Sources claim multiple publishers were after Lionhead, but Microsoft wouldn't let go of Fable IP

By midian182 · 8 replies
May 11, 2016
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  1. Back in March, Microsoft announced that it had canceled the upcoming Fable Legends game and would be shuttering Lionhead Studios, the long-running studio responsible for the Fable franchise. Now, it's claimed that Lionhead could have been saved from closure by one of several potential buyers, but the companies backed out when Microsoft refused to let go of the Fable IP.

    According to a report from Kotaku UK, “some of the biggest names in video game publishing” expressed interest in acquiring Lionhead during the studio’s consultation period, which, under UK law, is the set amount of time when a company must explore other options before closing down.

    While the report doesn’t specifically state who the interested parties were, it does say that letters of intent had been filed, signaling just how serious they were about purchasing the studio.

    The problem allegedly lay with Microsoft’s refusal to sell the Fable IP along with Lionhead. "90% of the people interested just walked away at that point," claims one source close to Xbox. Despite recent entries in the series failing to capture its former glories, owning the Fable name would have been an enticing proposition for publishers.

    As Kotaku UK notes, the refusal to sell the IP would mean that any publisher buying Lionhead would have to enter into a licensing agreement with Microsoft in order for the studio to make a new Fable game - a deal that would likely eat up a significant percentage of the title’s revenue.

    If the source’s information is accurate, then perhaps the 20-year-old Lionhead would still be open, if only Microsoft had allowed a competitor to buy the Fable brand.

    Permalink to story.

  2. Teko03

    Teko03 TS Evangelist Posts: 414   +186

    So how exactly was it beneficial to Microsoft to close down Lionhead and cancel Fable altogether, as opposed to selling it all to a willing buyer?
  3. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 3,329   +1,975

    It's all about control ..... no matter how how ridiculous, they will do anything to maintain control. They keep this up they will go the way of Disney, ever so slowly .....
  4. Tanstar

    Tanstar TS Evangelist Posts: 613   +175

    Fantastically rich and owning everything?
  5. davislane1

    davislane1 TS Grand Inquisitor Posts: 4,736   +3,757

    If the source’s information is accurate, then perhaps the 20-year-old Lionhead would still be open, if only Microsoft had allowed a competitor to buy the Fable brand.

    Lionhead is expendible; the Fable IP is not. This is why the issue was an impasse for the negotiating parties. If MS had let go of the IP, Lionhead might still be around but the long-term revenue (for Microsoft) from Fable would have been lost to the other parties.

    This deal was never about Lionhead. It was always about Fable.
    mbrowne5061 likes this.
  6. davislane1

    davislane1 TS Grand Inquisitor Posts: 4,736   +3,757

    It's very simple.

    Lionhead was an expense (thus its closure). The Fable IP has the ability to generate long-term profits for whoever controls it. If they had sold Lionhead and the Fable IP, they would have made a sizeable short-term profit. However, someone else would be making money off of Fable for years or decades to come.

    Remember, there are plenty of competent development studios out there. Low risk/high return IPs are a much more difficult to come by.
    Teko03 likes this.
  7. loading

    loading TS Enthusiast Posts: 67   +13

    Meh. The only decent Fable was the first one. Ever other spin on the franchise wasn't received very well and it only became worse with every release. Mr. Molyneux didn't help the situation either.

    Black and White on the other hand I would love to see revived, but certainly not by Microsoft.
    alabama man likes this.
  8. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 2,094   +1,270

    I think that at this point the fable franchise isn't worth very much anyways.
  9. davislane1

    davislane1 TS Grand Inquisitor Posts: 4,736   +3,757

    It's worth lots. All they have to do is license it to a well-respected studio that promises to bring it back to its former glory.

    This is why MS wouldn't give it up and the publishers wanted it.

    Recall that most games don't sell on their actual merit. They sell on hype.

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