Microsoft’s sudden closing of one of its biggest in-house game developer, Lionhead Studios, came as a great shock to gamers everywhere. Now, sources have revealed that the veteran studio might not have had to meet such a gloomy fate, reports Kotaku UK.
Specifically, the site cites “multiple sources” that there had been plenty of interest in buying back Lionhead before its closure. This occurred during a period referred to as a “consultation period” – when companies are mandated by UK law to seek other options before their demise; the process is commonly fruitless for game studios, which doesn’t make the reality any less saddening.
The report did not make clear exactly who was ready to avert Lionhead’s eventual disappearance from the game-making world, due to the “confidential nature” of such information; the list of potential buyers reportedly included “some of the biggest names in video game publishing”, with offers ranging in the hundreds of millions. These prices are not really surprising, considering Lionhead’s ownership of one of gaming’s most beloved franchises: Fable.
Ironically, if the sources are to be believe, it is this same valuable possession that ultimately resulted in Lionhead’s closure – or rather, Microsoft’s refusal of putting the franchise in any other publishers’ hands along with its studio. This means that while buyers coul still get the studio with all the manpower needed for a Fable game, they would have to license the IP from Microsoft. The prospect seems to have left a distate in buyers’ mouth, with “90% of the people interested just walked away.” It is rather clear that Microsoft had no intention of letting go of one of its more valuable IPs.
While the news doesn’t change the reality, it should still serve as a bitter reminder to Fable fans that the franchise’s former new addition, Fable Legends – promised to be a return-to-form for the series with nice graphics and new gameplay mechanics – had had a chance of coming to life from the drawing board. Microsoft still holds the IP, however, and only time can tell if the company will use it for something new, or just let a great chapter of gaming fade away into Albion.