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 Post subject: Lionhead to close / Microsoft strategy ?
PostPosted: Mon Mar 07, 2016 16:38 
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http://www.kotaku.co.uk/2016/03/07/micr ... -cancelled

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Microsoft to Close Lionhead Studios, Fable Legends Cancelled

In an announcement that came completely out of the blue, Microsoft is planning to close the storied UK developer Lionhead Studios. Its current project, Fable Legends - which has been in development for years - has been cancelled. We've confirmed the news with people who work at the studio.

Here is the statement in full, from Hanno Lemke, General Manager at Microsoft Studios Europe:

Today, I have some difficult changes to announce that affect some of our Microsoft Studios teams and projects in the UK and Denmark.

After much consideration we have decided to cease development on Fable Legends, and are in discussions with employees about the proposed closure of Lionhead Studios in the UK. Additionally, we will close Press Play Studios in Denmark, and sunset development on Project Knoxville.

These have been tough decisions and we have not made them lightly, nor are they a reflection on these development teams – we are incredibly fortunate to have the talent, creativity and commitment of the people at these studios. The Lionhead Studios team has delighted millions of fans with the Fable series over the past decade. Press Play imbued the industry with a unique creative spirit behind games like Max: The Curse of Brotherhood and Kalimba, which both captured passionate fans. These changes are taking effect as Microsoft Studios continues to focus its investment and development on the games and franchises that fans find most exciting and want to play.

I speak for all of Xbox when I say that despite this news, we remain committed to the development communities in the UK and Europe, and Xbox will continue to support new IP and originality in the games we offer on our platforms, whether they’re AAA blockbusters likeQuantum Break from Remedy, adventurous new IPs like Sea of Thieves from Rare, or unique new creations from independent developers like Moon Studios with Ori.

We have nothing but heart-felt thanks for the members of Lionhead and Press Play for their contributions to Xbox and gaming. We are committed to working closely with those affected by today’s news to find them new opportunities at Xbox, or partnering with the broader development community to help place them in jobs elsewhere in the games industry should they desire.

I've seen Fable Legends at the studio several times, and it was looking promising - though its long beta, with no sign of a final release, was starting to look a little worrying. Having spoken to people at Lionhead just last week, it seems this news was not expected.

Lionhead Studios is one of the most well-known developers in the UK, having made the Fable series and Black & White, amongst other things. Founded by Peter Molyneux in 1996, it was acquired by Microsoft in 2006.

This is a real bloody nose for UK game development. More on this story as it develops.


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 Post subject: Re: Lionhead to close
PostPosted: Mon Mar 07, 2016 16:47 
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zaphod79 wrote:
sunset

>:(

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 Post subject: Re: Lionhead to close
PostPosted: Mon Mar 07, 2016 17:43 
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You should reach out to them. Going forward. In terms of what they mean.


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 Post subject: Re: Lionhead to close
PostPosted: Mon Mar 07, 2016 19:41 
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Grim... wrote:
zaphod79 wrote:
sunset

>:(


You are Ste Curan AICMFP

https://twitter.com/steishere/status/706883464990216192




Quote:
Using the word "sunset" instead of "close" to make your decision sound kinder fools no-one / marks you out as an A++ corporate dick, imo.


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 Post subject: Re: Lionhead to close
PostPosted: Mon Mar 07, 2016 20:28 
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Lionhead made some great games, but looks like the latest Fable release was dragging on and maybe fans had moved on?


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 Post subject: Re: Lionhead to close
PostPosted: Tue Mar 08, 2016 23:00 

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Wasn't the new Fable game meant to be out in the next month or two? Seems a bit strange to basically throw away all that money...


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 Post subject: Re: Lionhead to close
PostPosted: Wed Mar 09, 2016 1:42 
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Cookie197 wrote:
Wasn't the new Fable game meant to be out in the next month or two? Seems a bit strange to basically throw away all that money...

Long beta. It wasn't really anywhere near finished.

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 Post subject: Re: Lionhead to close
PostPosted: Wed Mar 09, 2016 2:03 
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Although it's not unheard of for games to be essntially finished, but have the publishers balk at the marketing cost and can it then


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 Post subject: Re: Lionhead to close
PostPosted: Wed Mar 09, 2016 3:25 
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From the outside it looks like they have been severely mismanaged, working on projects to push whatever MS is currently pushing rather than having the freedom to make something their players actually want (multiple Kinect projects, F2P Windows 10 cross play thing).

Crazy to think that the only Xbox studios left now are the Halo, Gears of War and Forza factories. Pretty much everything else hey publish on Xbox is externally developed.

It's consistent with the notion that they are seeking to get out of the loss leader console hardware propped up by exclusive software model, and are seeking to use "Xbox" to shift as many of their customers over to the Windows 10 UWP ecosystem. I think there will still be hardware called "Xbox" in the future, but I think that aspect of Microsoft's business is going through a transition.

Edit: Worth noting that Lionhead staff (including senior staff) found out about the closure the same time as we did. They had no idea the studio was being closed until they read the same press release we did. Pretty awful.


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 Post subject: Re: Lionhead to close
PostPosted: Wed Mar 09, 2016 8:44 
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Phil Spencer did a 'future of XBox' podcast or something last week, I wasn't interested but my colleague who's a rabid XBox fanboy scumbag (he calls me a superior PC cunt, we love each other really) was listening intently.

By the end of it he looked quite miserable, apparently the next' XBox' really is going to be pretty much a PC, to the extent that they envision iterating the hardware on a regular basis. Full backwards compatibility will be maintained between the iterations but if you've got an XBoxTwo 2018 edition you might have a weaker graphics card and slower processor than someone who's bought the shiny new XBoxTwo 2020 edition, so your games will run with less pretties and stuff like that, and maybe the 2020 edition has a bigger SSD in it, stuff like that.

I expect at this point we'll see the operating systems for 'XBox' and 'PC' become very closely aligned as well.

EDIT - I didn't hear the podcast, that was my colleague's summary of it. I did ask him if he'd misunderstood as he can only play games with auto-aim so must be a bit dim, but that didn't seem to help.


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 Post subject: Re: Lionhead to close
PostPosted: Wed Mar 09, 2016 10:06 
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Hearthly wrote:
Phil Spencer did a 'future of XBox' podcast or something last week, I wasn't interested but my colleague who's a rabid XBox fanboy scumbag (he calls me a superior PC cunt, we love each other really) was listening intently.

By the end of it he looked quite miserable, apparently the next' XBox' really is going to be pretty much a PC, to the extent that they envision iterating the hardware on a regular basis. Full backwards compatibility will be maintained between the iterations but if you've got an XBoxTwo 2018 edition you might have a weaker graphics card and slower processor than someone who's bought the shiny new XBoxTwo 2020 edition, so your games will run with less pretties and stuff like that, and maybe the 2020 edition has a bigger SSD in it, stuff like that.

I expect at this point we'll see the operating systems for 'XBox' and 'PC' become very closely aligned as well.

EDIT - I didn't hear the podcast, that was my colleague's summary of it. I did ask him if he'd misunderstood as he can only play games with auto-aim so must be a bit dim, but that didn't seem to help.


He was pretty vague about it so it's difficult to draw concrete conclusions but you can actually read what he said yourself here rather than having it filtered through your colleague:

http://www.polygon.com/2016/3/1/1112166 ... -microsoft


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 Post subject: Re: Lionhead to close
PostPosted: Wed Mar 09, 2016 10:08 
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Yeah, I think people are missing the bigger picture. This is basically MS admitting defeat and ending the Xbox as a console.

A themed xbox equivalent of a steam box is the likely inevitability, but they're clearly hoping for a iPhone style yearly upgrade pattern.

Microsoft's core belief is that the market for games is rabid and obsessive (Which is why they've never worried about adding microtransactions to £50 games). I'm certain their plan is that because the average gamer is now in his thirties he will have the disposable income to pick up the yearly latest model and the annual Forza, Halo and Gears.

The problem is they are likely right. Depressing times. As a primarily console gamer, I've still Sony, and this may give some breathing space to Nintendo, but if I was a PC gamer I would be rather worried right now.

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 Post subject: Re: Lionhead to close
PostPosted: Wed Mar 09, 2016 10:17 
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There's a lot of "could's" and "maybe's" in that article. To write the Xbox One off this early is ludicrous.

What is he going to say instead of this? Is he really going to say something like "The Xbox One is fantastic and we have absolutely no further plans for innovation". Of course he isn't! He's merely saying what the future of consoles could look like and he does make some good points.


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 Post subject: Re: Lionhead to close
PostPosted: Wed Mar 09, 2016 10:45 
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Bamba wrote:

He was pretty vague about it so it's difficult to draw concrete conclusions but you can actually read what he said yourself here rather than having it filtered through your colleague:

http://www.polygon.com/2016/3/1/1112166 ... -microsoft


Isn't that just an excerpt though? He seemed to listening to the podcast for a lot longer that it would have taken Snoop Philly Phil to say that bit there.

Having said that, even just reading the excerpt makes the direction they're going in fairly clear, to the extent we can determine that consoles will be upgradeable and/or iterated on a regular basis throughout what we'd currently think of as a 'generation'. (I realise the 360 and XBone have had iterations but nothing that's actually made the console more powerful.)

Anyway, that's definitely the takeaway that my colleague took from it, and he's (a) Very clever and (b) Well loves his XBox, and he looked upset about it.


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 Post subject: Re: Lionhead to close
PostPosted: Wed Mar 09, 2016 10:50 
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I was reading an Xbox magazine last night (February I think) and there was a big add for the new Fable game in there

So must have been a very sudden decision as it looked they were moving ahead with everything.

On the Xbox One future are they saying it will just be some sort of media type PC running Windows 10 moving forward?

The last update they pushed out made the dash look a lot more like Windows 10.


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 Post subject: Re: Lionhead to close
PostPosted: Wed Mar 09, 2016 11:03 
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Hearthly wrote:
Bamba wrote:

He was pretty vague about it so it's difficult to draw concrete conclusions but you can actually read what he said yourself here rather than having it filtered through your colleague:

http://www.polygon.com/2016/3/1/1112166 ... -microsoft


Isn't that just an excerpt though? He seemed to listening to the podcast for a lot longer that it would have taken Snoop Philly Phil to say that bit there.


I don't know what to tell you; maybe your colleague was listening to it in slow motion? Maybe he just put it on a loop for an hour? Or maybe there was more than one thing covered in the duration? I can't speak to some random podcast some random guy was listening to because I don't know what it was. The comments being discussed here were apparently made directly to the assembled gaming press during some event so, I dunno.

Hearthly wrote:
Anyway, that's definitely the takeaway that my colleague took from it, and he's (a) Very clever and (b) Well loves his XBox, and he looked upset about it.


I'm not sure why anyone would be massively upset by this news. On the assumption you'll have the choice not to upgrade your Xbone then you can either play a game at the level of fidelity you'd have had anyway if they'd just stayed with one hardware set or, if you want to and you can afford it, you can upgrade and get a shinier looking game. That seems like a fair enough deal to me. Certainly fairer than having your games chugging along on ten year old hardware while MS work on the next iteration.


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 Post subject: Re: Lionhead to close
PostPosted: Wed Mar 09, 2016 11:31 
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He was upset because he feels like it's a spread of superior PC cunt infection.

I mimed autoaiming a headshot at him.


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 Post subject: Re: Lionhead to close
PostPosted: Wed Mar 09, 2016 11:44 
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Dr Lave wrote:
A themed xbox equivalent of a steam box is the likely inevitability, but they're clearly hoping for a iPhone style yearly upgrade pattern.
That does seem to be a commonly held theory: Xbox becomes a software platform, possibly with a mandated hardware spec, but runs on various things. It may even be a pure software layer on top of a COTS gaming PC ie. all Xbox games run on a PC.

This is a strategy that harkens back to Microsoft's past: sell software for commodity hardware. Fine. But the thing that puzzles me is that this is the exact opposite of the Surface strategy, which is to make (very well-received) devices. Possibly it's just two divisions of MS making different decisions, or maybe the internet hivemind has misread this.


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 Post subject: Re: Lionhead to close
PostPosted: Wed Mar 09, 2016 11:49 
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From what I can see, Microsoft is a very divided and political company. Strategy seems to wave around like twenty drunk men in a duck swinging contest.


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 Post subject: Re: Lionhead to close
PostPosted: Wed Mar 09, 2016 12:11 
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Mr Dave wrote:
From what I can see, Microsoft is a very divided and political company. Strategy seems to wave around like twenty drunk men in a duck swinging contest.

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 Post subject: Re: Lionhead to close
PostPosted: Wed Mar 09, 2016 12:20 
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Doctor Glyndwr wrote:
Mr Dave wrote:
From what I can see, Microsoft is a very divided and political company. Strategy seems to wave around like twenty drunk men in a duck swinging contest.

Image

Yup, that'd be the one.

Also: duck swinging contest? Oh Mr Phone you're at it again.


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 Post subject: Re: Lionhead to close
PostPosted: Wed Mar 09, 2016 13:23 
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Mr Dave wrote:
Also: duck swinging contest? Oh Mr Phone you're at it again.

I'm almost afraid to ask what it was supposed to be.


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 Post subject: Re: Lionhead to close / Microsoft strategy ?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 09, 2016 13:24 
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Dick swinging contest, natch.


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 Post subject: Re: Lionhead to close
PostPosted: Wed Mar 09, 2016 13:27 
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lasermink wrote:
Mr Dave wrote:
Also: duck swinging contest? Oh Mr Phone you're at it again.

I'm almost afraid to ask what it was supposed to be.

Knowing Dave's phone it was probably 'purple monkey dishwasher'.

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 Post subject: Re: Lionhead to close / Microsoft strategy ?
PostPosted: Fri May 13, 2016 14:47 
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Wonderful article about the inside story of Lionhead from start to finish, if you have the time:

http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2016- ... side-story

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 Post subject: Re: Lionhead to close / Microsoft strategy ?
PostPosted: Fri May 13, 2016 18:57 
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Definitely worth the read, great piece.


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