Lionhead is transitioning its game production cycle to embrace the games-as-service model, starting with the upcoming Fable Legends.
John Needham, studio head at the Microsoft-owned dev house, told Edge in a recent interview that he is “pivoting Lionhead into a games-as-service studio”.
Needham took up his position at the UK studio last year, following the departure of Peter Molyneux, and has been putting the MMO and free-to-play experience he has built up at Cryptic Studios and Gazillion to use, leading the studio in a new direction.
“We can do other styles of Fable games, and keep them within Fable Legends,” said Needham.
“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.”
Free-to-play companies, such as Kabam and King, have been among the first to move to the games-as-service model, which describes a studio delivering games that operate more like content delivery networks than singular pieces of entertainment.
Needham added: “There are lots of examples in the MMO 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.”
Fable Legends has been pitched as a four-player, multiplayer-focused action RPG for Xbox One, where players will choose heroes with different skill strengths and fight their way through a series of manageable quests or dungeon crawls. The twist is that a fifth player is can play puppet master of sorts, setting traps and unleashing more enemies to trouble the four hero players.