Kotaku UK has obtained access to a rush of new information about Lionhead Studios’ closing and Fable Legends cancellation, whose news was delivered with Microsoft not willing to provide a lot of details probably due to an internal privacy deliberation. Anyway, as said, the English end of Kotaku has gathered a few sources, with some of them coming directly from within the Peter Molyneux founded software house Lionhead.
It looks like Microsoft was increasingly demanding about this project, willing to have it launched as a true showcase for its proprietary technology, including SmartGlass, Windows 10 and Xbox One cross-play, DirectX 12, cloud and more. In particular the decision to release the PC version fo Fable Legends on Windows Store didn’t look like a good thing for the project at all:
“It was around this time that Microsoft came up with a new priority for Fable Legends: Xbox One and Windows 10 cross-play. There is reportedly an initiative within Microsoft, codenamed Helix, that centres around Windows convergence; the eventual aim is for all of Microsoft’s products to run the same software. In the shorter term, all Xbox One games were to be adapted to run on Windows 10 as well. Fable Legends was to be the first game that would do this.
This would take more time and money – and it wasn’t the only showcase feature that Microsoft asked for over the course of Legends’ development. Fable Legends was also to support DX12; back in 2013, it had to make use of the cloud and Smartglass, Microsoft’s ill-fated second-screen initiative. But it was the Windows 10 cross-play that proved the most damaging demand, because it would greatly restrict Fable Legends’ potential audience if the game were only to be available on PC through the Windows Store. Originally, the plan was for Legends to release through Steam – but the Windows/Xbox convergence strategy put an end to that.”
It looks like Fable Legends, and the entire Lionhead studio, was among the victims of the Xbox team changing leadership from Don Mattrick to Phil Spencer and his fellow execs. It’s normal stuff when changing strategy, so we wouldn’t take that too much as Spencer’s responsibility.