It hasn’t been an easy few years for fans of the Fable franchise. Since Lionhead Studios was closed down by Microsoft, the popular IP has been bounced around in discussions with little indication it would ever see another title added to its polarizing lineage. For many, the much-maligned Fable 3 and the failure of Fable Legends were enough of an indicator of the series’ direction that its inglorious death has been viewed as merciful.
Yet there remain just as many fans interested in what could happen if another studio picked up the rights to Fable, or if Microsoft decided it was worth pursuing a follow-up. While fielding questions asked to him by fans on Twitter yesterday, Xbox boss Phil Spencer responded to someone inquiring about whether or not gamers would ever see Fable 4, and Spencer was more enigmatic than some might have expected:
@dragen_Light Nothing to announce right now but I do think the IP has a lot of places it could go.
— Phil Spencer (@XboxP3) April 30, 2017
“Nothing to announce right now” has gotten Fable fans at least partially excited about the potential for a future release, especially because Spencer seems optimistic about the franchise’s ability to adapt and be relevant in the future. Of course, it’s just as possible that Spencer was simply being honest about where Fable stands currently, and that there aren’t any plans to pursue Molyneux’s vision of Fable 4 or another title in the future of Microsoft’s console gaming development.
It’s worth nothing that, even if Spencer and Microsoft felt that Fable was a series worth developing once more, there would be no guarantee that the game would resemble anything like what gamers had seen previously from Lionhead Studios. The failure of Fable Legends indicated some serious design flaws – among many other issues – and a company as progressive and savvy as Microsoft would be unlikely to follow similar paths if it felt they all led to the same result.
That being said, however, it isn’t like new takes on the Fable franchise performed particularly well. Fable Legends was an asymmetrical multiplayer game that nobody seemed interested in, and the digital card game Fable Fortune never made it out of development. That’s likely why Microsoft is so hesitant to commit to another Fable, and it’s likely why, despite Spencer’s comments, a new Fable title is likely only a distant possibility, despite the fact a whole legion of fans is still enthralled by the promise and innovation of the original Fable and the sweeping changes it brought to the genre.