Today, news broke out that Microsoft would be cancelling the long anticipated Fable Legends. It was a sad, shocking development for everybody, but it was overshadowed by what was arguably an even worse bit of news- that Microsoft would be looking into shutting down the legendary Lionhead Studios, custodians of the Fable franchise, altogether.
It’s sad news, and it is yet another studio that Microsoft have ultimately seen closed down on their watch- previous greats like Ensemble Studios and Bizarre Creations are among the other studios that had a troubled existence under Microsoft. Others, like Bungie, eventually managed to wrest their independence from the publisher, while still others like Rare continue to languish.
According to a former developer for Lionhead, who once worked under Microsoft, the issue is endemic to the company, which simply does not value first party talent. Speaking out on Twitter, Ex Lionhead producer Daniel Gray criticized Microsoft pretty harshly, calling them the ‘destroyer of first party studios.’
“Really sad to hear the news about Lionhead. Microsoft really are the destroyer of first party studios. Seven years ago was a different story,” he said, before adding a rather grim and morbid metaphor for Microsoft’s treatment of its studios: “I imagine there’s a “first party studios” executioner that waits in Redmond until the day of reckoning.”
It really is a shame, but at this point, it is undeniable that Microsoft severely lacks first party talent and studios. The excuse of them being newcomers to the industry does not fly any longer, since they are almost 16 years old in the industry by now- at similar points in their histories, Sony and Nintendo both had a far better stable of in house developers and franchises. The fact of the matter remains that Microsoft does indeed seem to have a first party problem- and if they don’t solve it, and fast, then their days in the console market could be numbered.