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Microsoft may have exciting future with reviving of game titles

Microsoft's first-party lineup may have received a shot of adrenaline recently, if reports are to be believed. 

Speculation began almost two weeks to this day when an online user leaked possible information found in a Xbox Live SDK database. At the time, the leaks could not be substantiated. That's now beginning to change as an independent source told online gaming news site Eurogamer that a new title is in the works for one of Microsoft's most successful, albeit recently dormant, franchises. 

Speaking in anonymity, the source told Eurogamer that "Forza Horizon" developer Playground Games is now hard at work on reviving the "Fable" series with a new mainline entry. The world of Albion has long since been abandoned since 2012's much-maligned Kinect-infused "Fable: The Journey" and, before that, "Fable III" in 2010. 

"Fable" lead designer Peter Molyneux left Lionhead, the studio that he founded and continued to run after Microsoft's acquisition, following the release of "Fable III." Microsoft hasn't attempted a new mainline title since his departure. Instead, it's tried to utilize the IP for various spinoffs, with little success.

The most recent attempt at a new "Fable" title was in the form of a free-to-play online co-op experience, "Fable Legends." It was one of the first titles announced for the Xbox One back in 2013. But after at least three years of development and sunk costs, Microsoft canceled the title abruptly in 2016, following the bad reception of another beta. Phil Spencer had just taken over the Xbox division and canceled it, among several other projects, in an attempt to right a vessel that had spent the previous three years wandering aimlessly. 

In addition to the cancellation of "Fable Legends," developer Lionhead, with more than 20 years of history, was shuttered and its employees were either moved to other positions within Microsoft or terminated. Many saw this as Microsoft's admission of defeat  perhaps a symbol of the gaming division slowly eroding until it could be sold off or shuttered entirely. The lack of any real major first-party support beyond a rotating release of "Halo," "Gears of War" and "Forza" seemed to emphasize that belief. 

The "Fable" franchise  based around a more traditional single-player RPG experience  just didn't really fit in with what Microsoft has been doing over the last several years. All of the publisher's efforts seemed more focused on exploiting the blossoming games-as-a-service model by loading its exclusives with microtransactions aimed at keeping players involved  and spending money  rather than jumping to new games. Spencer even commented last year on the decline of single-player experiences  noting that while they were not dying, they were not the focus. 

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