Lionhead closure linked to Microsoft refusing to sell Fable IP

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first_imgOn April 29, Microsoft-owned Lionhead Studios closed its doors for the last time, bringing an end to the games development house that gave us Black & White, The Movies, and many games in the Fable series. However, new information regarding the last days of Lionhead reveal it didn’t actually need to close, and in fact Microsoft could have avoided it completely.Lionhead Studios is a UK studio, meaning it must operate under UK laws. If a company is set to close, UK law states that there be a period of time during which other options can be explored in an attempt to avoid the closure and the subsequent loss of jobs. As Lionhead is such a well-known name with some solid intellectual property on its books, it’s not surprising to discover several publishers apparently showed an interest in acquiring the studio from Microsoft during this period.As we know, none of these interested parties ended up buying Lionhead, but it wasn’t because the price was too high. No, the reason they all apparently walked away is Microsoft. Even though Microsoft is done with Lionhead and canceled Fable Legends, it was not willing to sell the Fable IP along with the studio. As that is/was Lionhead’s most valuable asset, publishers understandably lost interest.None of this has been confirmed by Microsoft, and probably never will be. Details come via an unnamed source “close to Xbox” who also claims offers for Lionhead were in “the range of hundreds of millions” as long as the Fable IP formed part of the deal. So Microsoft turned down a relatively big payment in order to retain a dead (for now) gaming series.It could be that Microsoft already has a plan in place for new Fable projects and therefore the decision not to sell was an obvious one. However, it could just as easily be management and lawyers unwilling to let go of an IP that has future potential even if they have no intention of doing anything with it.Then there’s the embarrassment reason: Microsoft may have been unwilling to sell the IP for fear of a new Fable game appearing as a PlayStation exclusive. It’s not out of the question an independent publisher could choose to do that, especially considering the sales lead Sony enjoys coupled with the desire to recoup the acquisition cost as quickly as possible. And while that now won’t happen, it’s likely quite a few former Lionhead staff are now working on Sony games.last_img

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