After nearly 20 years of awesome videogames, British developer Lionhead Studios was closed down by Microsoft last month.
The story isn’t quite over yet, though, as Kotaku UK claims multiple sources told the website that some of the largest videogame publishers in the business offered to buy Lionhead, but Microsoft turned them down.
Why? Because Microsoft didn’t want to part with the rights to Fable, the popular action RPG franchise created by Lionhead.
There were apparently several potential buyers lined up for the studio during its consultation period. Owing to the confidential nature of this kind of discussion, Kotaku couldn’t name any specific publishers, though letters of intent were reportedly filed.
One source close to Xbox told Kotaku that Microsoft refused to sell Fable along with the studio, at which point “90% of the people interested just walked away”.
As Kotaku points out, without the Fable license, Lionhead making a new Fable title would have required their new publisher to reach a licensing agreement with Microsoft- something that would have cost them time and revenue.
Clearly these potential buyers (whoever they were) decided it wasn’t worth the effort in the end.
If these reports are true, it’s frustrating to consider that Lionhead, along with hundreds of jobs, could have been rescued from the axe, if only Microsoft could have let go of Fable.
Then again, I can’t imagine Microsoft would have been too chuffed if Fable 4 landed as a PlayStation 4 exclusive.
Ewan Moore is a journalist at UNILAD Gaming who still quite hasn’t gotten out of his mid 00’s emo phase. After graduating from the University of Portsmouth in 2015 with a BA in Journalism & Media Studies (thanks for asking), he went on to do some freelance words for various places, including Kotaku, Den of Geek, and TheSixthAxis, before landing a full time gig at UNILAD in 2016.