Unsurprising but sad news: what prevented the recently-closed, much-missed Britsoft studio Lionhead from finding a new home under another owner was, allegedly, Microsoft’s refusal to let the Fable IP go with it.
Kotaku UK cites ‘multiple sources’ who claim that several buyers, including “some of the biggest names in video game publishing”, were circling Peter Molyneux’s old stomping ground, making offers that were “in the range of hundreds of millions.” However, the long-running and best-selling Fable series was apparently a major part of their interest, and when MS allegedly make clear that it intended to hold onto those rights, “90% of the people interested just walked away at that point.”
I want to be all uppity at this point, and bellow about how Lionhead was about heritage and a huge talent pool, about how this was the home of mainstream gaming values that no other studio of its size shares. But the sad reality is that all Lionhead have been for quite some time is Fable games: from a purely business point of view, there is almost no other reason that a publisher would want to spend big on it.
I suppose that, even if Microsoft had relented, Lionhead would have been doomed to remain a Fable factory – and the studio itself would have been at some risk of future closure if the new owners’ primary interest was simply the IP.
Business is bad business.