Lionhead's surprise potential closure and the canning of Fable Legends (opens in new tab) has been a surprise for everyone. Especially Lionhead who, apparently as little as five hours before the announcement, was still apparently unaware the end was in sight:
Lionhead community manager 5 hours ago. Didn't seem to have any idea what was coming. (Thanks @Omicron_weapon) pic.twitter.com/iGthRPs15ZMarch 7, 2016
Now, while it probably wasn't a surprise for Xbox boss Phil Spencer, he was clearly not giving anything away at last week's Xbox Spring Showcase when we asked how Fable Legends was going, and if we'd ever see another numbered Fable?
His answer didn't suggest a dead game walking: "I think we could do many things with Fable. I think the world of Albion and the hero-based nature of that game could show up in many different spaces," was his reply. Although, yes, that is an oddly deflective answer as he talks about 'showing up in different spaces' and dodges saying how it's actually going.
He continues to say, "it's been in beta for a while, and we're watching the engagement numbers. The thing around Legends that I'm committed to is I want to make sure its release matches the expectations in terms of quality that our customers deserve. So it's not about releasing something because it's on a poster, because there was a date posted somewhere." Or, as it turns out, releasing it all.
For the studio itself, Lionhead, Phil stated that "the team's really committed to what they're doing with Fable right now," and referenced a "healthy turnover at the studio" as a reason why they couldn't do "a big single player RPG-driven thing like the Fable of old," because "that studio isn't that same studio," adding, "they've really crafted themselves around Fable Legends."
The idea that the team were so tightly interwoven with its product might go some of the way to explain why both the studio and game seem to have been shut down together.
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