Head of Xbox, Phil Spencer, has said that at some point in the future Fable fans may see another entry in the series.
Spencer was asked on Twitter whether or not a Fable 4 game would ever be made and though he replied that there was “nothing to announce right now” he does think “the IP has a lot of places it could go.”
This isn’t much to go on but it is a good sign that the franchise isn’t totally dead. Fable remains one of Microsoft’s most well-known IPs despite the fact that we haven’t actually seen any games bearing its name since 2012 when Fable Heroes and Fable: The Journey were released. The last mainline numbered title, Fable 3, was released even further back in 2010.
Last year brought the closure of the series developer, Lionhead Studios, also marking the end of the next planned game, Fable Legends.
The fact that Spencer has said Microsoft still has plans for the Fable franchise adds weight to reports that emerged in the aftermath of Lionhead’s closure that Microsoft had turned down offers to buy the studio as it wanted to keep hold of the Fable license.
What form another entry in the Fable series would take is still unclear. In an interview with IGN former Lionhead art director, John McCormack, revealed that though Lionhead had pitched an idea of Fable 4 to Microsoft it was rejected.
The idea had been to continue in the vein of the first three Fable titles and develop Albion’s main city of Bowerstone, moving forward in time to a more technological and industrial age and becoming darker and grittier in tone.
According to McCormack, despite Lionhead’s passion for the project Microsoft rejected it as it was concentrating on furthering the production of games that are continual services like The Division and Destiny (something which Phil Spencer recently reinforced in an interview with The Guardian).
All of this suggests that the next entry in the Fable franchise is unlikely to be a continuation of the traditional Fable franchise. What seems more likely is a title that jumps off of the development of Fable Legends and uses online servers and opens Albion up for players to explore via quests either alone or in groups. Something similar, perhaps, to Elder Scrolls online.
Of course, this is all just speculation. A sensible and achievable next step for the Fable franchise would probably be to bring Fable Anniversary to Xbox’s backwards compatibility program alongside Fable 2 and 3.