Back in April, gamers were met with news that the British developer that brought Black & White and Fable into living rooms across the globe would be closing its doors for good. A Microsoft representative made the announcement and revealed that the company had been preparing its employees for the closure since March. This was a particularly emotional closing for many gamers and it caused the hashtags #RIPLionhead and #LionheadMemories to start trending on Twitter. The closing also brought the development of Fable Legends to come to an end. The game was originally supposed to be released as a free-to-play multiplayer game, but rumors quickly circulated that the project was struggling to garner sufficient interest and backing.
UK-based Lionhead wasn’t the only casualty of Microsoft’s studio closings. At the same time, Denmark’s Press Play was also closed down. Microsoft’s decision to close two of its internal game studios meant that not only had development for Fable Legends development ended, but that the plug was also pulled on titles like Project Knoxville as well. The general manager of Microsoft Studios Europe, Hanno Lemke, released a statement about the decision and explained that it wasn’t an easy one to make.
“These have been tough decisions and we have not made them lightly, 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,” Lemke said before adding. “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.”
Disney Interactive Studios
This spring brought particularly sad news for young gamers and anyone who was a fan of the Disney Infinity series. The franchise was a success financially as Disney Infinity turned out to be one of the best-selling games of 2013 and despite some declining numbers earlier this year, it still didn’t seem like the Infinity series was falling from graces any time soon. Either way, the troubling news came via a blog post by Disney Interactive SVP John Blackburn. This May, it was revealed that the Disney Infinity series would be no more and Disney Interactive was officially closing its doors.
n-Space broke into the gaming industry back in 1994 and garnered a reputation as a studio that had successful projects on multiple platforms although its main focus seemed to be Nintendo consoles. Its impressive list of developed games includes the Call of Duty series for the Nintendo DS, multiple James Bond games like Goldeneye007 for Nintendo DS, Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 for multiple platforms, and Sword Coast Legends. Sword Coast Legends, released in 2015, was the studio’s first independent title and was set within the Dungeons & Dragons universe. It was a promising project but it wasn’t enough to keep n-Space from closing the next year.
United Front Games
United Front Games was founded in 2007, and in less than ten years, the studio managed to create titles for PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Xbox 360, Xbox One, and Microsoft Windows. The Vancouver-based developer is behind titles like ModNation Racers and Sleeping Dogs. United Front also teamed up with other studios to bring Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition and Halo: The Master Chief Collection to the market. Only a few months ago in October, however, gamers received the news that the studio was going out of business. It was an unexpected announcement since United Front had just released a new title, Smash+Grab, on Steam Early Access only a few weeks before the announcement. Ultimately, the game ended up getting canceled along with Triad Wars and the company remained rather hushed about their decision to close its doors.
Evolution Studios’ closing didn’t necessarily come as a huge surprise. Before Evolution was closed in March, the developer was hit with layoffs that left 55 people without jobs. It was a sign that the inevitable would happen soon… and it did. Sony confirmed that the studio behind titles like MotorStorm and DriveClub had been shut down but Sony also promised to help reallocate the Evolution Studios employees onto other projects. Saying goodbye to Evolution felt particularly solemn when DriveClub Game Director Paul Rustchynsky posted a short statement on Twitter thanking fans for their support and asking them to take one last victory lap on their favorite Evo game.
Renegade Kid, the studio behind Mutant Mudds and Dementium: The Ward, proved to be a particularly interesting story as one company’s closure led to the creation of two new studios. While the studio did make an entrance into the retail space, Renegade Kid’s true fanbase was built through Nintendo’s eShop. After roughly ten years in the business, however, the studio’s co-founders decided to go their separate ways. Jools Watsham and Gregg Hargrove decided to split Renegage Kid as they both launched their own individual studios, Atooi and Infitizmo respectively.
The studio behind Toki Tori announced that it would be closing its doors at the same time it announced a new (and its last) release. In March, Two Tribes co-founders Martijn Reuvers and Collin van Ginkel announced that while Two Tribes would “continue to support” its “partners and all gamers out there” the studio would no longer be bringing its own titles to the market. Rive turned out to be the studio’s very last new release and it also marked the end of an era for a company that had been in the gaming industry for 15 years.
After 13 years of business, UK-based indie studio Relentless Software shut its doors this fall. Relentless was known for family-friendly party games. Perhaps its most notable title was the Buzz! series that allowed gamers to test their knowledge on a variety of different subjects depending on which game they purchased. The series kicked off with a music quiz game for PlayStation 2 back in 2005 and the series continued on into 2010.