Fable Developer Lionhead Studios Closed by Microsoft

Microsoft Studios has announced that it is closing Lionhead Studios, developer of the Fable series, and Denmark’s Press Play Studios, which was in the process of making Project Knoxville. The closure of Lionhead means that Fable Legends is now effectively dead.

“After much consideration we have decided to cease development on Fable Legends, and are in discussions with employees about the proposed closure of Lionhead Studios in the UK,” the official announcement reads. “Additionally, we will close Press Play Studios in Denmark, and sunset development on Project Knoxville.”

The twenty-year-old Lionhead Studios was formed by Peter Molyneux in 1996, and was responsible for classic RTS God game Black & White. Molyneux sold the studio to Microsoft in 2006, later forming his increasingly precarious 22Cans studio.

“These have been tough decisions and we have not made them lightly,” the announcement continues, “nor are they a reflection on these development teams – we are incredibly fortunate to have the talent, creativity and commitment of the people at these studios. The Lionhead Studios team has delighted millions of fans with the Fable series over the past decade.”

“Press Play imbued the industry with a unique creative spirit behind games like Max: The Curse of Brotherhood and Kalimba, which both captured passionate fans. These changes are taking effect as Microsoft Studios continues to focus its investment and development on the games and franchises that fans find most exciting and want to play.”

Microsoft has not yet revealed when the two studios will officially close their doors.

Controversial Microtransactions Removed From Godus Wars

Peter Molyneux is one of the mistrusted game developers throughout history and it’s not unwarranted given the hugely disappointing releases during the last decade. Molyneux has forged a terrible reputation for promising so much and failing to deliver! For example, Fable 3 was a pretty hollow experience and didn’t have a lasting appeal. However, this isn’t reason enough to explain why many people perceive Molyneux as an unreliable figure. This animosity mostly stems from the release of Godus, a god game made possible through crowdfunding. Prior to the release, many Kickstarter pre-order promises were broken and the game is filled with microtransactions. Rather shockingly, the business model is akin to a freemium mobile title, and wasn’t altered from the iOS version.

Recently, the publisher launched a RTS based around the Godus world. Despite creating such a huge backlash from the original game, Molyneux didn’t reward the initial player base and decided to charge for extra content. This rightfully resulted in terrible user reviews and many people voiced their displeasure on the Steam forums. In response to the frustration from players, 22can’s CEO, Simon Phillips released a statement on Steam which reads:

“Hi Godus Wars Community!

Firstly welcome to our new Godus players and hello to our existing users. As you noticed, yesterday we (finally) released Godus Wars. By now, all of you that purchased the original Godus and our Kickstarter backers should have Godus Wars in your Steam Library. We’re aware that it took a few hours to propagate to some of you and if you think you should have it and still don’t then do get in touch.

We’ll be making some changes to the game and also the steam page to reflect the feedback that’s coming in and we’ll do a round up of that very soon.

In the mean time, its been brought to our attention that the extra content being a premium add on really isn’t a popular choice. Whilst we think that it does represent good value, especially considering that Godus Wars has been delivered as a free update to hundreds of thousands of users and the lower purchase price of the main game we understand previous Godus owners frustrations with this.

Therefore, based on your feedback, the extra content will be available to all free-of-charge

Apologies for the frustrations and we hope you enjoy playing.

Simon Phillips, 22cans CEO.

PS: Thanks for everyone posting their Godus Wars feedback in our discussion boards. The Godus Wars team really appreciate the detailed feedback we have received.”

Despite the change of heart, consumers are still very suspicious and extremely angry with the game’s development. One user proclaimed:

“Ok, but why was this EVER considered in the first place? You know damn well that people were extremely dissatisfied with Godus. To think you would have the audacity to try and charge Godus owners for the extra content is just absurd. On top of that, we were promised no microtransactions – unlocking new areas with real money is a microtransactions. Our faith in you as a company is already pretty much gone, don’t start lying to us too.”

Molyneux and his studio didn’t learn anything from the Godus furore and had the gall to charge loyal players with a series of micropayments. Frankly, the damage has been done, and I can’t see this latest endeavour making any difference.

Peter Molyneux’s 22Cans Worth -£1.2m

Peter Molyneux’s 22Cans, developer of the notorious (and still unfinished) Godus, has been revealed to be worth -£1.2 million. According to NextPowerUp, 22Cans’ net worth has fallen from -£710,022 in 2013 to -£1.2 million after its assets dropped from £1 million to £487,816, with liabilities of £1.7 million having remained the same.

The fact that 22Cans’ liabilities have not budged since 2013 suggest that it has not been in a position to pay off any startup loans or costs it initially accrued. With no sign that the developer will be able to increase its assets any time soon, it seems 22Cans may not be long for this world.

Molyneux has been back in the news recently after he spoke to Eurogamer regarding 22Cans’ release of Godus Wars, despite the fact that:

  1. Its previous game, the Kickstarted Godus, remains incomplete, three years after it began development; and,
  2. Molyneux swore that he would no longer talk to the press.

Upon its release on Steam, Godus Wars was offering its players microtransactions, presumably to help dig the company out of the financial hole it found itself in, but removed them following outcry on the Steam forums.

Despite going back on his word to no longer speak to the press, Molyneux claims that his “world changed after that interview.” It seems the fortunes of his company, however, have not.

Peter Molyneux Accepts Blame for his Portrayal as a “Fraud”

Infamous game developer Peter Molyneux has suffered quite a hammering of late, not least due to the Curiosity/Godus debacle, and he now concedes that he is partly to blame for his portrayal in the press as a “fraud” and a “liar”, admitting that he’s guilty of waxing lyrical about game features that excite him at the time, but that won’t necessarily make it into the game that he is discussing.

“The mistake I made, and I’ve made it again and again and again, and if I ever do this again I’ll probably make it again,” Molyneux said, speaking at the Reboot Develop Conference in Dubrovnik, Croatia yesterday, “is to go to talk to the press about my current ideas. As you can see from the iterative development side, the current idea is the most exciting idea ever.”

Molyneux spoke about E3 press junkets, and how he would try to rouse weary journalists by giving them a glimpse into his imagination. “In Fable, I said ‘one of the things I’d love in an RPG is to have this world that evolves. I’d love to have trees that grew’,”, Molyneux said. “Well, they grew in Black and White. So I said I’d love to have an acorn you could plant and would grow into a tree. But of course the game didn’t have that, but that became the headline. And some people get so incensed. “why are you lying to us?” I wasn’t lying – this is what I thought of the game at the moment. They say this is fraud.”

I like Peter Molyneux. I think there’s plenty of room in a game industry dominated by AAA titles, sequels, and tie-ins for original thinkers with great ambitions, and Molyneux has had that box ticked for over thirty years. The guy is still very passionate about his work, despite regular criticism and attacks. However, it seems the irony of complaining about bad press in a public forum that will subsequently be reported in the press seems lost on him. Though he admits to mistakes, and that he will “probably make [them] again”, Molyneux must realise that not only is he’s swimming against the tide in continuing to fight this perception, he is as guilty as anyone of keeping it in the public consciousness. That die is cast, and he’s only reinforcing it by discussing it so frequently.

Conversely, instead of being chastised for failing to meet his own ambitions, Molyneux should be celebrated for having them in the first place, and long may that continue.

Thank you Gamasutra for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Indie Haven.

Nineties Classic Syndicate Available Free on Origin Now

Classic real-time strategy game Syndicate is available for free through EA’s digital distribution platform Origin. Syndicate, developed by notorious game developer Peter Molyneux under the Bullfrog banner, puts the player in charge of a team of four cyborgs tasked with wiping out the other syndicates on isometric cityscapes.

Syndicate is only free for a limited time, and depends upon the risible Origin platform, but as one of the best games of the Nineties, it’s worth grabbing while gratis.

“I Will Not Speak to the Press Again,” Claims Peter Molyneux

After the recent controversy concerning the broken promises over his game, Godus, game developer Peter Molyneux has announced his retirement from public life, swearing off all future press interviews.

“The only answer is for me to retreat,” Molyneux told The Guardian via Skype. “I love my games and I love sharing them with people. It’s this amazing incredible thing I get to do with my life, creating ideas and sharing them with people. The problem is, it just hasn’t worked.”

Molyneux, creator of such classic games as Populous, Dungeon Keeper, and Theme Park, and notable for the recent Fable series, has a fractious history with the press. His tendency to over-promise on in-development games, only to fail to deliver once the game has been released, has not gone unnoticed. The same pattern repeated itself with Godus.

“I suppose the big mistake was estimating how long the game would take to make,” Molyneux explains. “I very stupidly and naïvely didn’t build in enough contingency time into my predictions and I was 100% wrong. When you’re creating something that hasn’t existed before, it’s very, very hard to be precise about those things.”

Responding to the angry investors who funded Godus on Kickstarter, he said, “My hope is that in six to nine months time, people start to finally see the game they really did pledge for. That will be two to three years into development but that’s kind of what it takes when you do an original game. I wish it didn’t. Up until mid January, every single moment of this company was dedicated to Godus.”

“My answer to this is this simple,” Molyneux says. “I love working on games, it is my life. I am so honoured to be a part of the games industry, but I understand that people are sick of hearing my voice and hearing my promises. So I’m going to stop doing press and I’m going to stop talking about games completely. And actually I’m only giving you this interview now in answer to this terrible and awful, emotional time over the last three days. I think honestly the only answer to this is for me to completely stop talking to the press.”

However, reports suggest Molyneux made the same pledge to Rock, Paper, Shotgun a day earlier, and spoke to another site after this Guardian interview. Old habits die hard.

Source: The Guardian

The Man Who Opened Peter Molyneux’s Curiosity Cube Still Awaiting His Reward

When 18-year-old Scot Bryan Henderson opened Peter Molyneux’s Curiosity cube, he was promised that the reward would be “life-changing”. That was on 26th May 2013, and Henderson is still waiting.

Curiosity, a mobile game developed by Molyneux – the famed auteur and creator of the Fable games – through his new indie production house 22Cans, was billed as a “social experiment”. It required players to tap on the tiny cubes that made up a larger cube, stripping it away, layer-upon-layer, until someone uncovered the secret in the centre. Molyneux was cryptic about the contents of the Curiosity cube, but promised that it would change the life of whoever discovered it.

Henderson uncovered the secret, and won the accompanying reward. That reward, it turned out, entitled Henderson to a cut of the profits of Molyneux’s next game.

That game? Godus.

Kickstarted back in 2012, Godus was meant to be Molyneux’s magnum opus, which he described as the spiritual successor to his 1989 game Populous. Despite raising $750,000 from investors and releasing for Windows and OS X in early acccess form, iOS, and Android over a year ago, the game has failed to hit its targets – including the still-uncompleted multiplayer option – and is yet to raise a penny, with rumours that Molyneux has handed the game off to a skeleton crew while he develops his new folly.

Henderson, of Edinburgh, Scotland, now 21 years-old, is more disappointed by the lack of professionalism at 22Cans than the absence of his prize. He told Eurogamer, “Since I won and a year after, I would email them as a ritual thing, every month, just to get some kind of update. Eventually I was like, they’re not being professional at all. Communication is non-existent, so I’m not even going to try any more.”

Before communications with 22Cans ceased, though, Henderson was granted access to an early version of Godus, but he wasn’t exactly impressed. Though he says, “It was interesting. And it was pretty fun,” he later admits, “I did get bored of it, like after an hour-and-a half, two hours.”

The full interview with Henderson is available on Eurogamer.

Source: Eurogamer