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Microsoft reportedly turned down several offers to buy Lionhead and Fable IP

A new report claims Microsoft received several serious offers to acquire its UK-based Lionhead Studios. However, the company turned them down because it was unwilling to sell the studio's Fable franchise as well.

Microsoft announced its plans to potentially close Lionhead in early March, after the UK government-required consultancy period expired. That period came and went, so Microsoft officially shut down the studio in late April. According to Kotaku, there were many buyers interested in acquiring Lionhead:

Potential buyers included some of the biggest names in video game publishing - though, unsurprisingly given the confidential nature of discussions such as this, we were not able to confirm involvement with any of the specific publishers mentioned. The discussions were not just ephemeral: letters of intent were reportedly filed.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.

Lionhead was working on the free-to-play RPG Fable Legends for the Xbox One and Windows 10 before it closed its doors.

70 Comments
  • Well that's a bit ****. If Microsoft is not willing to keep it going should have sold it! Unless they got plans for it in the future.
  • if you own a property ( house etc) and you are not willing to invest in it and modernize it, you should be forced to sell it...
    yeah no thanks
  • Not the best example (house), but I agree.
  • They could use the engine or many other parts to bring it into other games or create other games. They could also evolve it into something different and better. There's a lot they can do. If they don't want to sell it likely they want to do something with it.
  • This analogy doesnt make any sense.   
  • If you don't plan on using the property and others have interest in it and are ready to modernize it, selling it to those who need it is not a bad idea.
  • But you don't know whether or not they plan to use it and the brand still has value with gamers. Plus, if the other companies "needed" it, they wouldn't have had the money to buy it in the first place.
  • Still better than just destroying the property(or killing the game in this case)
  • But they aren't destroying the property and they may choose to make another Fable game through another studio. You are also assuming whoever might buy it would do the series justice.
  • Now what? Microsoft is going to backtrack and create the game? The same way they said they don't care about phone this year and later said they do?(I do get why though.) It would be too late. People are already starting to criticize Microsoft. If they sold it then the blame won't be on Microsoft. The blame would be on whoever buy it.(sorry for bad English)
  • Re-read what I said. Why does the Fable game have to be Legends? Also, Microsoft didn't backtrack on phones either. Saying that phones aren't the focus this year does not equal "they don't care" otherwise they would have completely halted development on Windows Mobile. You are jumping to conclusions.
  • Else why would they immediately make an official statement clearing it? You are acting too naive. Also, now that they have officially killed lionhead, what you are saying are just assumptions. Even if they make a game in(maybe 2025) the future, people wouldn't care. You are making conclusions about Microsoft making game out of think air. There are no official statements.
  • Again, re-read what I said. I said they "may" decide to make another game. Meaning it can go either way. I neither confirmed nor denied that the series is dead or continuing on, simply said that you can't state definitively that it's gone. Also, Lionhead being gone doesn't guarantee that the series is over with. Are you not aware of the fact that Halo and Gears of War, two of Microsoft's biggest series, are not made by the original studios that created them?
  • Also I did not say they don't care. I said I get why they don't care about phone this year. Read my comment properly.
  • You word-for-word said "The same way they said they don't care about phone this year and later said they do?" MS never said anything of the sort.
  • "This year" my friend. That's important in my statement. And just like you said, Terry Myerson said phone are not focus this year, later said they do for years to come. That's what I meant. Thinking they are focusing on phones like you are doing now is being naive and hoping Microsoft is doing something for the fans is pretty much what we have done for the past couple of years and yet nothing mind blowing.(bad English, sorry)
  • You are putting words in my mouth. I never said they are focusing on phones right now so I'm not sure where the "naive" comment comes from. You know what, I'll chalk this back and forth conversation we are having up to miscommunication and the language barrier and leave it be.
  • Microsoft can and will make new fable game any moment just wait and see and lionhead without Peter Molyneux is nothing.
  • @Onkel_axel, in the UK that law actually exists. If you leave a house unnoccupied for a period of time, the council can sell the property and have tennants occupy it.
  • Actually this could mean that we'll see a fable game in the future
  • Unless they got plans for it in the future.
    ​Bingo.
  • Since they did not want to sell Fable, obviously they value it highly. More Fable is coming at some point. Probably with a studio that doesn't take half a decade to create a f2p. Från min Lumia 1520
  • Microsoft is a for-profit company. There is a reason they are not selling the Fable. I sense the Hololens in the horizon.
  • Project milo
  • You what?! How incredibly pathetic. Feel sorry for the team.
  • That's some bullstank right there. Not only are you depriving the fans, but also keeping Lionhead out of work. If you don't want to support the franchise the sell it.
  • So, because they didn't bring a game to market, they should automatically sell the IP? Why are there so many shortsighted comments like this?
  • They own an IP that still has value to it, no business would sell that IP just to sell it.  Either they will make plans for it in the future or the offer wasnt that good.      
  • Doesn't surprise me after the destruction they wrought on Nokia.
    This is just the way Microsoft does things. What a shame they became such a big player.
  • pretty sure Nokia was going down the toilet well before MS bought them.  
  • Microsoft have systematically destroyed everything that they purchased from Nokia. There is essentially nothing left now.
    Also, I guess we'll never know for sure - but I v.much doubt Nokia would have ended up where they did if they went the Android route.
  • yeaaahhh... all of the android oems are doing so well.
  • They would still have a phone division, but they would be about as bad off as they were before the microsoft purchase. The android market is oversaturated, there's no money to be had there.
  • Please stop perpetuating that nonsense. Nokia was dying long before MS bought their phone business. Recall that Nokia wasn't forced to sell it, they gratefully unloaded their dying mobile business in order to save what was left of the company.
  • maybe this means they'll let lionhead employees finish fable legends as an indie studio?
  • I doubt it, since it's still tied to the IP, which MS owns. I'd love to see it happen though
  • It's almost like the concept of having another one of their studios working on Fable in the future is unthinkable to people here. Just because Lionhead closed down, that doesn't mean Fable is automatically dead and MS is just holding out to be mean.
  • That's how I sort of took it as well. They may be looking for another one of their studios to do something with the property. And I don't blame them. Regardless of the quality of the last game, it's still a well known franchise. Be stupid to just give up on it   
  • The concept of people being concerned about some other studio working on the Fable IP is quite understandable. Lionhead was pretty unique in the style of games they created, their game concepts and their execution have always set them apart from others. Now, if anyone else makes a Fable game in name only, it would definitely lack what made Fable a recognisable IP.
  • But that's not what the people here are complaining about. They are acting like the series is dead and gone forever. There's also the possibility that a Fable game made by someone else will finally let the series reach its full potential as Fable has always been a good but flawed series.
  • May I ask what "IP" in this context means? I have briefly searched the internet and couldn't find the abbreviation explained. "IP address" comes up in the searches. When referenced relative to video games, it isn't spelled out, it's just "IP". Obviously I'm not a video gamer. I've seen it in "VG" (video games) articles recently and was just wondering.
    Best Wishes
  • Intellectual property. You know copyright stuff.
  • Like Aaron said, it stands for intellectual property. Microsoft was willing to sell Lionhead as a studio, but not the Fable IP along with it.
  • Thank you. Now it seems obvious.
  • Sounds like a typical MS decision...
  • Sounds like a typical ignorant and shortsighted comment.
  • Smart move on their part. Selling off already established IP is rarely worth it, especially one as historically successful and unique as Fable. Microsoft should be accumulating IP, not selling them off.
  • Accumulating or hording? It's all very well and good owning oodles of IP, but doing nothing with it isn't very fair on us fans, especially when the only new IP to emerge from Microsoft's dwindling first party studios is Sea of Thieves.
  • So basically EA or Activision wanted to buy Lionhead for the Fable franchise and Microsoft said no. Does the one guy who removes Windows 10 Mobile features also work for their game division too? ;)
  • One in the same
  • Lol acti would be the last after their terrible time working with Bizarre Creations
  • Lol, the comments. Maybe thought of other (MS) people get to use the IP? Noo of course not. Do feel silly. Fable can become Indie or even have a fable 4 in the end. Saying NO obviously has a good reason behind it.
  • That's sucks because Fable has a cult like following. They missed what's app Twitch and a number of other huge opportunities. I wonder why they pass on some things while supporting others so passing on Fable & Lion Head has a good reason behind it.
  • They tried quite hard to get Twitch but Twitch wasn't interested in selling to them, so they went with Google first (didn't work out ) and Amazon second. It would've been nice had they gone with Microsoft, but at least Microsoft tried for once.
  • There's nothing stopping these oh-so generous companies from hiring all the old employees from Lionhead and starting a new IP.  Oh that's right, it's not the employees they want, just the IP. 
  • You stop right there with your level-headed thinking and logic-based assessment of the news - this is the internet.
  • Actually the most of the studios with a UK presence (including Sony and Ubisoft) had jobs fairs in the Guildford area immediately after MS shut down Lionhead.
  • I thought ms should have bought the company who made ryse. Amazing game grahic engine. critics didn't like the game but then again the loved ps4 flower. So f the critics. Lol
  • Im confused. Why are people hating this decision. When MS released a statement along the lines of "hey Lionhead are closing, and we are pursuing games that people care about", that may not apply to the Fable franchise, but just Fable Journey. They can easily release Fable 4, which they would get plenty of requests for anyway. I hope thats the case. Not angry with them keeping the IP. Would of liked to have seen them keep the gunstringer ip, as its the only game that seems worthy of a sequel with Kinect. Bringing me to the point of, its typical and wrong for Microsoft to not sell IPs. Look at Twisted Pixel they have all their IPs, including 'Splosion Man which is somewhat significant. Not sure about the priginal rights to Geometry Wars or Dishwasher but same thing.
  • Probably because people are missing the business aspect of this move and using logic.  Spend the extra 10 minutes to think this through and they may eventually understand why they didnt sell the IP.  
  • It's a catch22 situation, Fable was Lionhead's biggest asset however without that it's really worthless unless the teams were included in the acquisition. As the value in a studio is the IP held and the many talented people who created or made aforsaid IP's a reality. Without these it's like buying a factory that produces cranberry juice but with no supply, equipment, or any associated land and building (just the brand). So in essence that is what it looks like Microsoft was willing to sell - the lionhead brand. But without knowing the nitty gritty details we can only speculate.
  • Pretty crappy move. Especially because in the best case scenario it gives the right to MS to have another studio make another Fable game, which could never be like something done by their original creators. as always the industry side of things just sucks the soul out of everything. I'm sad and angered to learn this. This also means that Fable Legends is deader than dead. It was a great game.
  • The beta for Fable was pretty awful. I wasn't surprised it got canned.
  • Yep quit during the long winded tutorial
  • the one person to blame is the one who FORCED lionhead to work on free to play game and kinect games that nobody bought Microsoft please stop interfering with there work , you nearly killed RARE
  • Fable is my most favorite RPG series. People get so upset or disappointed over bleeding edge phone updates, apps, Windows bugs, but I never feel too let down or disappointed by MS until the day they announced they were killing Fable and Lionhead. First time MS made me genuinely sad about something. Can't believe they're just throwing it all in the garbage. I guess my copies and accompanying CD soundtracks are collectibles now.
  • I still wonder if Fable is going to become something else. I would love to see Fable go back to how Fable one was but push it in the direction Peter was trying to do with the limited tech the xbox had at the time. Ide also love to see a Black & White game made for Kinect to as I think this could be a killer app on it but also add easy to use controls for the controller like halo wars did. It will be interesting to see what MS do with the ip's left by LionHead and I hope they do use them.
  • Sounds like noone actually wanted to buy Lionhead, they just wanted the Fable ip.  Not selling shows that MS has not given up on Fable.
  • Come on guys get real none of those companies cared about Lionhead studios or their employees. They just wanted the Fable IP
  • #BringBackFable