It seems Microsoft may have turned down “several potential buyers” for Fable developer Lionhead Studios before the studio was shut down.
Kotaku UK has stated that multiple sources have told them that “some of the biggest names in video game publishing” offered to buy Lionhead Studios.
According to one of the sources, Microsoft was willing to let go of Lionhead. They did not want to sell the rights to the Fable franchise, however. When Microsoft would not sell the franchise, 90 percent of the parties interested “just walked away at that point.” As Kotaku UK states, if a publisher wanted Lionhead Studios to make another Fable game without first buying the rights to the series, they would need to give Microsoft a portion of the game’s revenue.
Before Lionhead was closed, the studio was working on Fable Legends, a free-to-play multiplayer title for the Xbox One and PC. Eurogamer also reports that Microsoft had turned down a darker and grittier Fable title before moving onto Legends.