Home Gaming Microsoft reportedly turned down multiple buyers for Lionhead

Microsoft reportedly turned down multiple buyers for Lionhead

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Back in March, Microsoft canceled Fable Legends and closed down Lionhead. It was sad news for the people who lost their jobs, and sad news for the industry – it’s never good news when a studio shuts down, even if it makes sense from a business perspective. But could it have been avoided?

Over on Kotaku, it seems that Microsoft actually turned down a myriad of offers for Lionhead because of licensing issues. That’s right, apparently publishers went so far as to file letters of intent to buy the studio, so what happened?

Why didn’t it happen? One source close to Xbox claims it’s because Microsoft would not sell the Fable IP along with the studio, despite offers that were in the range of hundreds of millions. “90% of the people interested just walked away at that point,” said the source.

Without ownership of the IP, any company that bought Lionhead would have to publish new Fable games (or Fable Legends, if it had been salvaged) under a licensing agreement with Microsoft – not a favourable condition for anyone looking to make money from the franchise.

Essentially, Microsoft wanted to keep its hands clenched around the Fable IP – to the detriment of Lionhead studios. It’s pretty normal for publishers to offer to buy studios before they close down, only for nothing to come of it. However, it’s got to be particularly frustrating for those people who lost their jobs to hear that maybe they could have not only stayed employed, but continued to work on a franchise they enjoyed if only Microsoft were willing to sell it off. Fans of the franchise will also have to wait a very long time before getting any new hope of seeing more Fable.

With the closure of Disney Infinity and Fable, I have to wonder if other studios will also be showing signs of trouble soon. Is the industry as a whole struggling, or was there simply not enough interest in these particular games?


Last Updated: May 11, 2016


  1. Pariah

    May 11, 2016 at 15:06

    Interesting you mention Disney there. Another company who likes to kill franchises.


  2. Raptor Rants

    May 11, 2016 at 15:22

    Oh you want to buy out and save jobs? No. Not happening.




  3. Admiral Chief in New York

    May 11, 2016 at 15:23

  4. HvR

    May 11, 2016 at 15:26

    That is typical company mentality. If your boss tell you something else he is lying; they will fire your ass regardless of performance it means they can have a 1% more return on the money spent on your salary.

    It is isn’t that gaming sector is making profit or not it; it is because the returns in other industries they are involved in is higher.


    • miaau

      May 11, 2016 at 15:46

      I understand you, from previous comments made, have had some very bad exp and may be fairly jaded.

      I just hope you are not, in fact, correct AND jaded…..


      • HvR

        May 11, 2016 at 16:04

        I’ve been lucky that my employers after that have been very straight forward and professional. it is specifically something I look at when considering taking a position at a company.

        No BSing, “we are all in it together, we are a big family, please work overtime for free since it benefit all, we will take you with us to the top …” which what I hear from other people seems to be the norm in South Africa.

        I work my hours, meet my goals set up beforehand and get payed for what I do. Want extra pay extra.


    • The Sten

      May 11, 2016 at 16:10

      “they will fire your ass regardless of performance”

      It sounds like you’re implying that LionHead was turning in a profit. From what i can undetstand, the Fable series has been getting worse and worse almost to the point of irrelevancy.

      They didnt perform, so they got fired. Microsoft still sees potential in the IP.

      I see no problem in that.


      • HvR

        May 11, 2016 at 16:13

        Talking in general, if the money spent on your salary can make the company more somewhere else they have an obligation to there investor to get rid of you and invest elsewhere.


        • The Sten

          May 11, 2016 at 17:03

          The its your responsibility to make yourself worth more to the company (learn new skills, take charges of things, be an asset). A bitter pill to swallow for most but its the way of the free market.


      • RustedFaith

        May 11, 2016 at 20:22

        Lionhead was once a great company, they only stopped performing when Microsoft purchased the company and started interfering. Now that they killed the IP and the good name the studio had and now fire the very people that made the company successfull from the start.

        Microsoft purchased Lionhead in 2006 and since then it was just downhill.

        Lionhead wasn’t turning a profit because Microsoft got involved …. they were turning a massive profit before Microsoft acquired them. That is why Microsoft acquired them cause they were making tons of money …. I am no fan of Lionhead or Peter Molyneux but you have to give credit where it’s due.

        So another case of Microsoft buying a studio/IP and destroying it, not to mention all those talented developers loosing their jobs.

        Remember the game Black and White in 2001, it was revolutionary for its time. They made it …

        I see a problem in that.


  5. Alien Emperor Trevor

    May 11, 2016 at 15:37

    Things could’ve turned out better if they hadn’t had a lyin’ head.


  6. miaau

    May 11, 2016 at 15:47

    Well, IP is important. I go to lengths to protect my (read, the companies) IP. It is the lifeblood. So MS wants to keep the Fable IP against some future maybe? Perhaps in 5 years time, make a Fable game that sells because of nostalgia and rose tinted glasses.


    • Strawman Jim

      May 11, 2016 at 19:29

      Or… HD remake of Fable 1 on Xbox Two!


  7. Strawman Jim

    May 11, 2016 at 19:28

    I wonder what a competent studio like Bioware would have accomplished if EA had managed to get their hands on the Fable IP? I guess we’ll never know… Thanks Microsoft! I would imagine Rare is next?


  8. Guava_Eater

    May 12, 2016 at 08:32

    Hey Microsoft, thats called a Dick Move!


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