For developers, the fear-inducing visage tucked away under Death’s shroud of darkness isn’t that of a bleached skeleton, but an ordinary human; balance sheet clutched in one hand, big red marker in the other. If a product flops or the sales numbers don’t add up, candidate numero uno for the chopping block is the front line, often through no fault of its own.
Lionhead’s collective dream in 2012 was to make Fable 4, a surefire winner with a strong fan base, and yet, Microsoft, seeking to capitalize on the growing popularity of free-to-play, opted to sink $75 million into a risky project (Fable Legends) that its crew had no experience with making. Where’s the logic in that?
The very same gross mismanagement and lack of foresight that sunk Lionhead’s ship tends to repeat for many of the industry’s most tragic casualties, but the explanation need not always be so convoluted. Oftentimes, the answer is as simple as money, or, more precisely, the lack thereof.
Some publishers (hint: the name begins with E and ends with A) are more concerned with generating dollar bills than others, even if it comes at the cost of a world-renowned studio and expert in its field, there are no second chances.
Stay classy, video games.