Lionhead sheds jobs, Microsoft says it's “normal”

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The latest chapter in the Fable…fable, motion-controlled Kinect-exclusive Fable: The Journey is out now – having been met with roaring ambivalent critical and commercial acclaim. A number of jobs at developer Lionhead are no longer necessary – and as a result has seen a number of job cuts.

“There is a thoughtful and fair consultation process for all employees to ensure they have the best possible chance of finding a role inside Microsoft Studios,” Microsoft said in a statement to GamesIndustry International.

“We are working closely with the affected employees during this difficult time, and helping them to explore opportunities. We do not have an exact number to share but by the end of 2012 these reductions will account for less than 10 per cent of the overall headcount at Lionhead”

That’s pretty fair – and an industry practice, but I can’t help but lament the state of Microsoft’s first party studios. Lionhead’s been turned in to a Fable factory; the once mighty Rare has been reduced to making motion-controlled sports games and avatar fluff; they lost Bungie; Bizarre Creations got nabbed by Activision who summarily dissolved it; Age of Empires developer Ensemble disassembled; Carbonated Games and FASA no longer exist. At least they’ve still got the rather excellent Twisted Pixel though, right?

In a follow-up statement clarifying the staff reduction as a standard industry practice, Microsoft said the following to IGN.

“Following the completion of Fable: The Journey the Lionhead studio is in the process of beginning work on its next projects. As is common in the games industry, a reduced headcount is needed as projects kick-off and ramp up as development gets underway.”

“At this time a very small number of positions have been identified as at risk of redundancy and the affected employees were notified today. We are working very closely with those people during this difficult time, to help them explore alternative opportunities within Microsoft including new roles at Microsoft Studios which is actively hiring.”

It’s sad – because like many of Microsoft’s first parties it really feels like the studio’s being underutilised. Lionhead’s capable of more than just Fable – a series of games that could have become some of the greatest in gaming history, but instead have just become poor facsimiles of games past.

What I’d like from Lionhead is a new Black & White – with optional Kinect controls and a PC release as well. that’d make it all better.

Last Updated: October 17, 2012

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

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