Layoffs at Lionhead

Company confirms less than ten percent of overall headcount at Fable studio to be let go by end of 2012 following launch of Fable: The Journey.

Fable developer Lionhead Studios has been hit with layoffs. A statement from Microsoft provided to GameSpot confirms that ten percent of the overall headcount at the Guildford game company will be let go by the end of 2012 as part of a common development procedure.

“Following the completion of Fable: The Journey, Lionhead Studios has begun work on its next projects," reads a line from the statement. "As is common in the games industry, a smaller headcount is needed as projects kick-off and ramp up as full-production gets underway. At this time a small number of positions have been identified as at risk of redundancy and the affected employees were notified today."

Microsoft said it is "working closely" with those affected to help place them in new positions at other Microsoft Studios outfits like Rare, Soho Productions, and the firm's new shop in London. Additionally, the company said it plans to add more than 100 jobs across its United Kingdom studios by June 2013.

Lionhead's most recent game was the Kinect-exclusive Fable: The Journey. The company is rumored to be working on a next-generation MMO-like game.

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Discussion

85 comments
GSGuy321
GSGuy321

The days of exclusivity are over. You have to be on all platforms. The whole range.

blairstheman
blairstheman

Anybody remember Black&White 1&2??

Those were the days

hemoleech
hemoleech

Speaking of Fable, why isn't the 2nd one on Steam? I had a copy for the Xbox 360 but the POS broke.

Fatbeaverlol
Fatbeaverlol

I rather had a fable 4 NOW and 5 later.. now i still have to wait for the 4th one to come 

tgwolf
tgwolf

Too bad they didn't just see the outlook for what it was and cut staff BEFORE making another sequel of Fate, they might have still turned out something of value even if by de facto rethinking.

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

Should have known it was coming the moment Microsoft forced them to make a Kinect game.

mariokart64fan
mariokart64fan

this is what happens when you abandon your original audience,  

PodXCOM
PodXCOM

Poor Lionhead. it wasn't their fault that  Fable: The Journey was so bad. It was a Kinect game, after all.

Landsharkk
Landsharkk

Ahh Lionhead, selling gamers DLC that causes game breaking bugs.  I still cannot play Fable 3 anymore, because my character is stuck in a room thanks to a bug introduced by one of the DLC I downloaded (and the area I'm stuck in has nothing to do with the DLC!).

 

 

WolfGrey
WolfGrey

Not a surprise. Fable 3 was terrible and Kinect game was entirely not worth making.

 

Fable is most likely dead now.Tis a shame.

Deadly_Nemesis
Deadly_Nemesis

 

Should have canned the Kinect only idea right when that clueless bubble head(Peter) left guys.

Something tells me we won't be hearing much about Fable anymore

.

Promised_Trini
Promised_Trini

I see bad things happening now when MS takes control of a studio.They should've just stayed PC only.Fable 1 is still the best Fable game yet,I have it on PC,but as for the rest they were meh.

Tribesmaster
Tribesmaster

I hate the fable series (first game was alright). Never cared much for Lionhead either.

ziproy
ziproy

Lionhead is dead.

 

The only single thing that made that company great was Peter, and even then he usually caused more harm than good.

 

Without his insight ( think what you will of the hype machine that was his mouth, between Black and White, Bullfrog, and Fable he was a genius) this is nothing more than another sequel factory.....if it survives

robertcain
robertcain

The hardcore crowd wasn't convinced enough by Tom Mcshea's more positive review on the Kinect only title to bring in a profit for the company. Perhaps they've learned a lesson to stay away from Kinect only titles and will go back to focusing on the Fable games fans enjoy the most? Or maybe it's because no one really cares about the series any more, having migrated to the insanely popular FPS market... 

ebeorietemethhp
ebeorietemethhp

always sad to see people let go from their jobs. my father was recently unemployed for some time, but things worked themselves out. hopefully microsoft finds these people a position somewhere, and soon. and to everyone who thinks this is as a result of fable the journeys low scores, i really doubt thats the reason. great game.

cyclocrosser
cyclocrosser

Let's take a little reality check on a couple of things:

10% for a studio the size of Lionhead amounts to maybe a dozen-ish people so this is hardly a major new story. It's pretty normal for a studio to see 10-25% of their staff leave once a project hits RTM. The other reality is companies are shifting their focus as the industry shifts. Some are starting to work on titles for next gen consoles while others are shifting their focus to the mobile/social space. When this happens they inevitably have staff whose skills will no longer be relevant. The upside is if you're good at what you do, have a good reputation and are willing/able to move there are still LOTS of opportunities in this industry. 

 

As for Kinect, it's hardly a failure by any objective measure. It's certainly not hurting Microsoft's balance sheet (then again all of Xbox makes up a pretty small slice of Microsoft's overall revenue!) Keep in mind it was never really meant for the core gamer audience (ie: anyone reading this site). Don't forget that the core gamer audience is a REALLY small portion of the overall population and platform companies such as Sony and MS can't rely solely on the core gamer audience to stay afloat. Selling 20 million copies of a game might sound impressive but once you start looking at other forms of entertainment you'll see that it really isn't. For sake of comparison, CoD has 40 million players online each month worldwide while a single episode of American Idol attracts ~25 million viewers just in the USA. It's very debatable if video games have  really crossed over into mainstream entertainment, especially if you're talking about console titles. That's why you're going to see more mobile, social and Kinect/Move titles as well as more non-gaming content being offered up on consoles.

mav_destroyer
mav_destroyer

It must be a horrible feeling when you get a message from the higher ups telling you that your job is over. I hope I never go through that.

And what really ticks me is that companies layoff a part of their staff and shortly afterwards start hiring again, somehow it feels like an insult to the older staff.

jon2435
jon2435

I would never buy Fable: The Journey even if I did have a Kinect.  $50 is very far too high of a price point for this type of game.  Many series are going open world, or least much more open gameplay. 

SolidTy
SolidTy

Well, it was actually expected. These companies routinely patrol metacritic when they release a game, and if the game does great there, people get a bonus. If the game doesn't, we see layoffs almost immediately when it's clear the metascore is low.

 

Fable Kinect scored a 62/100. Not good for the Fable Brand. http://www.metacritic.com/game/xbox-360/fable-the-journey

 

Peter Molyneux and some staff left Lionhead, so we may be seeing the destruction of Lionhead altogether as M$ isn't shy in closing studios.

 

I'm guessing if they are lucky, those still remaining at Lionhead will get one more chance with one more product (whether it be a 720 or 360 game is anyone's guess.). RARE was transformed into a Kinect studio, so maybe they could do that to Lionhead. The question of sales has yet to be determined until after the Holidays. Any good members could always be transferred to RARE or whatever.

jinzo9988
jinzo9988

It's testers being let go.  What do you do with them between the time of a game release and the first pre-alpha prototype of whatever game comes next?  Nothing.

broly17
broly17

Meh I could care less about another failed Fable, bring out another Black and White!

MidnightMeteor
MidnightMeteor

In honor of Peter Molyneux's tradition, "Well you see Kinect Fable sucked because it was for kinect...blah blah blah." "Now in Fable 4 they will do this...."

 

Love how he doesn't derail his own games till the new one is out :P

servb0ts
servb0ts

always do this new game comes outfollowed by layoffs. its been a trend

vyaswanth
vyaswanth

they should have named it Kinect - the journey

please lions head don't ruin fable series.bring us fable 1

emperiox
emperiox

Just start Fable 4 already. Seriously, who had the idea to make an on rails carriage sim and call it a Fable game to milk it? That person is mentally retarded and I hope he got laid off right along with the other 10%.

jasongm
jasongm

 @Deadly_Nemesis I wonder if Peter M knew that the Fable Journey would be a huge dissapointment and took off before anybody would get blamed for it's failure?

clsid
clsid

 @Promised_Trini You should read Gaming Wonderland by Francesco Fraulo before saying something like that. Especially considering that Lionhead pretty much was built on XBox AND Windows development.

clsid
clsid

 @ziproy I agree, but that guy has a pretty cool ability to start new companies and come up with great stuff. So watch out wherever he is going.

Spartan_418
Spartan_418

@robertcain

At this point people are predisposed to be dismissive of Kinect. Out of everyone calling for Tom Mcshea to be fired because of giving The Journey a good review, very few or none of them actually played the game.

 

People are so dismissive of Kinect that they whine and cry when it becomes a part largely controller-only games, such as Skyrim, even when it's just voice commands and no motion controls are involved. I find that Skyrim's Kinect voice commands work amazingly well and add a layer of depth and fluidity to the game that is lacking in the otherwise completely superior PC version.

 

The hardcore crowd won't buy Kinect games. At this point it's not the actual features or gameplay in a Kinect game that turns them off, it's the word Kinect, by itself.

jasongm
jasongm

 @robertcain No, Fable can be a great franchise, but the whole "Kinect" thing should only be for "Family" oriented games. I like my kinect.. but i prefer to use it when friends are over..

ebeorietemethhp
ebeorietemethhp

 @robertcain

 changes in consumer taste MIGHT account for poor sales, but its only been out a week. it might end up doing reasonably well somewhere along the line. but i dont think kinect will stop being a part of the fable franchise going forward. i doubt this game was purely created on molyneuxs whim and not lionhead trying to diversify their portfolio. theyll marry what they learned during the production of this game with the core series, of that im sure. it wouldnt make sense otherwise. also, i dont think the hardcore crowd was ever  going to care whether the game got decent scores or not. theyre not playing kinect, or are they?

jasongm
jasongm

 @shingui5 Yeah we do.. kinda.... only when we have a party or have friends over... but my Kinect has been collecting dust since i barely use it, So many great games out there that don't use Kinect, I'm enjoying Borderlands 2 and some other games, Kinect for me at the moment is a after thought really.

jasongm
jasongm

 @jon2435 Like i stated, Fable the journey is more of a family oriented title not to be taken seriously..

cyclocrosser
cyclocrosser

 

"These companies routinely patrol metacritic when they release a game, and if the game does great there, people get a bonus."

 

Nope. Happens at other studios but not at MS. Bonuses at MS are tied to individual and team performance. If you're a developer and a title bombs because of a flawed IP or lack of marketing support it wouldn't be reflected in your bonus. I say this having spoken with people at MS who worked on less that stellar hits who still received a full bonus. I've also been offered jobs at MS so I've seen the bonus plan. The overall trend of connecting Metacritic ratings to bonuses is a disaster in the making, IMO.

dlCHIEF58
dlCHIEF58

 @SolidTy 

 

The layoffs have absolutely NOTHING to do with game sales or Metacritic reviews. These are just common layoffs that happen after a game's release and happens with almost all development studios - crunch time followed by modest layoffs. A lot of developers have curbed the amount of layoffs with work on post release DLC. A high Metacritic rating would not have made more work or prevented layoffs, this is just part of the game development cycle. 

mav_destroyer
mav_destroyer

 @jinzo9988 the game development cycle (and any software for the matter) needs testers throughout the whole cycle. they don't just do 90% of the game and then ask testers to test it.

SolidTy
SolidTy

 @broly17 Peter Molyneux is gone, and what would be a Black & White game without him? Besides, EA owns the IP, I'm fairly sure as EA published both games in 2001 and 2005, including the expansions.

MR_TUBBy
MR_TUBBy

 @emperiox But, but, Emperiox, hasn't it been your dream since you were a little child to be a carriage driver with your trusty steed?  Lionhead is realizing the dreams of children everywhere!  All ten of them!

jonasas2
jonasas2

 @emperiox its probably the same person who thought every new fable game should have less spells, weapons and crappy final bosses

SolidTy
SolidTy

 @dlCHIEF58  @SolidTy You can't possibly know what you speak to be 100% accurate. A more likely scenario is a multitude of factors, including what I said, what you said, and what has been unsaid. It's true that there are common layoffs that happen, but they don't happen enough to dismiss these layoffs as typical common situation.

 

Especiallly with Peter M. and crew recently leaving, there are other things we consumers simply aren't privy too.

 

Then there is M$ themselves who are not shy of shutting down fantastic studios they own, if they don't sell them off, or downsize them.

 

I laid out a perfectly good explanation as to why a collective firing was going to happen, and as predicted it happened. How we came to the conclusion may be off if, in the unlikely event you are 100% accurate, but the results are in and people were let go. Fable bombed and the brand has been hurt, Lionhead's rep is now damaged, and Peter M. and some higher ups are gone.

 

The fact you seem emotionally invested makes me wonder your motives, but perhaps that's just your typing style.

 

Either way, the future isn't looking good for Lionhead.

broly17
broly17

 @SolidTy Crap you're right I forgot about that :( damn my hopes for another B&W have been dashed...well any decent B&W any ways lol

DOW161
DOW161

 @jonasas2  @emperiox So peter molyneux.

 

Fable needs to go back to the start. I loved the amount of spells we had in Fable TLC. 

SolidTy
SolidTy

 @dlCHIEF58 Dude, all you did was repeat M$ PR on the matter. I found an article, and you seemed to just quote it verbatim. I did just a little bit of digging and I found even more news.. Another mangled studio in the making :

 

http://www.computerandvideogames.com/373574/lionhead-evolving-into-entertainment-as-a-service-studio/

 

"An advert for a job opening at Lionhead has offered insight into the future of recently downsized Fable developer Lionhead."

 

"...key participant in the transformation of Lionhead from a retail focused game developer into a provider of Entertainment as a Service".

 

"In industry parlance, 'Entertainment as a Service' refers to the practice of continually supporting games with downloadable content and post-release updates, as well as expanded media such as animated shorts, comics and fiction."

dlCHIEF58
dlCHIEF58

 @SolidTy 

 

No you laid out a perfectly flawed theory that has no basis in truth or logic. Studios do not lay off people based on Metacritic scores...PERIOD. Bonuses for studios are sometimes linked to Metacritic scores (like rumored about Fallout: New Vegas), but their continued employment is not. And it was not a "collective firing", it is a layoff that is common in almost every developmental cycle for smaller studios and was clearly stated in their press release. This is perfectly normal and absolutely no cause for alarm.

 

Sales of the game (which it is too early to have any significant data yet as well as the fact that NONE has been released) also do not affect layoffs by themselves, at least ones that are this small. But sales after the first week of release would not be a reason for any layoffs. 

 

I am not emotionally invested, I just can't let it stand when someone posts a hairbrained theory as fact. You are spouting the doom of Lionhead without any facts such as actual game sales figures, only quoting a Metacritic score (which for a Kinect game I have trouble trusting many of the Metacritic sources as a lot of gaming sites have a prejudice against it to begin with). Most of the reviews I saw for the game were positive and after playing the demo myself will pick it up at a later date. 

SolidTy
SolidTy

 @broly17 Maybe if Peter M decides to work with EA once again...

MidnightMeteor
MidnightMeteor

 @emperiox  @DOW161  @jonasas2 

So true. All I ever wanted after Fable was everything that was left out of it and just optimized. I wanted it in the same setting as Fable too lol.

emperiox
emperiox

 @DOW161  @jonasas2 No kidding. I thought Fable 2 was too boring also, and the Fable 3 setting was too boring imo...