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Lionhead moving towards “games as services”

by William Schwartz

Fable

“Games as services.” While many gamers aren’t overly fond of the notion, more and more developers have come out supporting the games as services model, most notably Valve. Now to join the list is Lionhead, according to an interview with Edge magazine.

Talking to the head of Lionhead Studios, John Needham, Edge asked about his feelings towards the gaming industry. “I think the real magic in the industry now is taking great traditional gameplay and IP, and this new connected world, and mashing them together. I am the person pivoting Lionhead into a games-as-service studio. Legends is quite different from previous Fable games.”

However, he still wanted to emphasize that, while different, Legends was still at its core ‘Fable’. “The trick with Legends, and the question we’re constantly asking, is: ‘Is it Fable?’ Even with the connected aspects. That’s why Fable Anniversary’s launch in February was perfect, because it grounds us – we want to make sure we’re maintaining what makes Fable great. Now we’re looking at all these great online features we’re building into Legends. We’re bringing both of them together, taking what’s great about Anniversary and [Fable] II and III and bolting on features that make it a great connected experience.”

fable-legends

Neeham cited games such as Journey and Dark Souls as inspiration for Fable Legends, games that he described as “people are flowing in and out of your world organically – very natural online modes.”

According to Neeham, Fable Legends will be a long term strategy for Lionhead Studios. “We can do other styles of Fable games, and keep them within Fable Legends. My plan is that Legends is essentially a platform for almost everything Fable going forward. It’s a long-range plan, of five to ten years, where we’re going to build and keep building onto Fable Legends. That’s the nature of games as a service – you keep adding systems and features and content.”

Fable-Legends-cineamtic

He cited MMOs as examples of the aforementioned model. “There are lots of examples in the MMOG world of keeping players engaged for that length of time, with new content constantly flowing into the game, and bolting on new [modes] into your game to keep it fresh. It all comes down to listening to your community, building content into the game that they want, and then iterating upon that.”

However, when pressed about how Lionhead planned on pricing Fable Legends, whether it would be a flat $59.99 game, a $59.99 game with a monthly subscription fee, or a Free-to-Play game, he simply said, “We haven’t talked about the business model yet. We’re just trying to build a great game.”

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