It was a sad month for Lionhead Studios in March 2016.
Back then, Microsoft proposed closing the studio behind games like Fable II and the seminal Black & White.
Lionhead eventually shuttered its doors that year, joining the list of failed video game studios.
Microsoft reflected on the closure of the iconic studio in the sixth episode of the documentary series Power On: The Story of Xbox, as was recently covered on IGN.
“You acquire a studio for what they’re great at now, and your job is to help them accelerate how they do what they do, not them accelerate what you do”, said Phil Spencer, Head of Xbox in the documentary.
Nonetheless, Lionhead produced some pretty good games while it was a Microsoft studio. Fable II, which came out in 2008, was a hit, and its successor Fable III was also similarly well received by game critics, and sold millions of copies too.
There were missteps too, and Lionhead Studios did release some not that great games such as Fable: The Journey, which Microsoft comments on in the documentary.
“Fable: The Journey was a passion project for a lot of people, but I think it deviated pretty significantly from the pillars of what made Fable 1 and 2 so popular”, said Shannon Loftis, General Manager of Global Games Publishing at the time of Lionhead’s closure.
But Microsoft still sees the closure of Lionhead as a “misstep” though.
Actually, Loftis said that what happened with Lionhead Studios was “one of the biggest missteps” for the company. She also said he wishes “Lionhead were still a viable studio”.
At the time of closing in 2016, Lionhead was working on Fable Legends. This was an asymmetrical multiplayer game which might have played like the popular Dead by Deadlight game by Behaviour Interactive.
What else Lionhead might have come up had they continue to exist as a studio is anyone’s guess, but it’s clear that the quality of their games went south when industry legend Peter Molyneux left the company in 2012.
Molyneux left Microsoft to start his own video game company, later saying that the closure of Lionhead was the “low point of the year”.
However, despite Lionhead Studios disappearing more than five years ago, a new Fable game will be hitting Xbox consoles and PC sometime in the future. Fable 4 is currently in development by British outfit Playground Games, although it currently has no release date.
So even if Microsoft probably made a mistake by shuttering Lionhead Studios in 2016, it’s a good thing for fans of their games that the Fable series will continue in the future, even if the studio is now confined to the history pages of the video game industry though.
Read more: 10 Video Game Studios That Failed