Computing giant labelled 'saviour' after studio laid off 50 staff and scaled back projects

Microsoft buyout ‘brought jubilation’ – Lionhead dev

UK studio Lionhead desperately needed help and was on its knees before Microsoft bought out the Fable developer in 2006, a former staff member has said.

James Duncan, who joined the studio as an artist in 2006, just before Microsoft’s acquisition on 6th April, said the computing giant had become Lionhead’s saviour and prevented its possible closure.

"Literally the day I started Microsoft said we’re buying you," Duncan told Eurogamer.

"It was a big time, a lot of upheaval in the company. When you’re bought by Microsoft it’s quite a big deal. Lionhead was on its knees. They desperately needed help, let’s put it that way.

“So really, when Microsoft came along it was jubilation. A lot of people were taking sighs of relief that Microsoft had come in as the saviour.”

A month before the takeover, the troubled Lionhead studio had laid-off 50 staff and scaled back some of its projects after sales of games such as Black & White had underperformed.

Duncan added: "Things were difficult at the time, let’s put it that way.

"Certainly when Microsoft came in with the offer it was good for Lionhead because they needed maybe a stronger hand to come in and help them out at the time."

Since Microsoft’s acquisition, the Guildford-based studio has released Fable II and III, which have reportedly sold over three million copies each.

The studio is currently developing Fable: The Journey for Xbox 360, due for release on 2012.

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