Michael Pachter On Lionhead’s Closure: Microsoft Made A ‘Business Decision’

‘I don’t think Lionhead did a very good job of creating profitable franchises.’

Posted By | On 10th, Mar. 2016 Under News | Follow This Author @Pramath1605


Fable Legends

The abrupt and unexpected closing of Lionhead Studios earlier this week came as a surprise to everyone. It was the end of a historic studio, and an indication that all may not be well at Xbox and Microsoft Game Studios- after all, why else would they close one of their most high profile studios?

Earlier today, I had a chance to sit down with Michael Pachter of Wedbush Securities. Pachter is a well known analyst, whose frequent and outspoken predictions and views on the gaming industry have made him practically a household name among gaming enthusiasts. I posed this same question to Pachter- does the closure of Lionhead indicate that all is not well at Microsoft’s gaming division? A big core studio being closed like that, after all, surely indicates something is wrong, right?

“A big core studio’ with small games, so,” Pachter began, before I reminded him that Fable is one of Microsoft’s biggest franchises- in fact, Halo/Gears/Forza/Fable is almost satire at this point, due to Microsoft’s overt reliance on those franchises.

“I read somewhere, and this could be wrong, that all the Fable games combined sold only 7 million units- so that’s across three games, combined,” Pachter said. “Fable 1, 2 and 3 only sold 7 million units put together, and that’s not impressive at all. So, the fact is, it was a big, expensive studio, that was unproductive as far as sales go. Certainly, they created good content, well reviewed content, but not big sellers. And so, I think Microsoft made a business decision- this is a profit driven business, so, people are trying to make money. I don’t think Lionhead did a very good job of creating profitable franchises.”

But Lionhead is not the only Microsoft studio with this problem, Pachter said. it is, in fact, something endemic to most of Microsoft’s first party as a whole.

“You could say the same thing about Rare, actually- I think Microsoft’s internal studios have not been particularly productive, with the exception of 343,and Bungie before that. They really, I don’t know, they have Black Tusk, I think it’s called The Coalition now- and I assume that they’ll end up being good, because Rod Fergusson is running the studio, and he managed Gears with Epic too. But, short other really big two franchises – Halo and Gears – they really haven’t done anything else. You know, it’s not like Ori and the Blind Forest is gonna keep Microsoft afloat. I mean, it’s a good game, but it’s not like it’s a giant seller or anything.”

So isn’t this an issue, I asked him- Microsoft’s total failure to build up a stable of first party content and studios even sixteen years into their time in the industry?

“Well, ‘total failure’ is kind of an overstatement, considering Halo has done well. That’s five good games out of Halo. They’ve had a few exclusives that have done well, and I actually think Quantum Break- Quantum Break looks great, and I actually think that game is going to do very well, but… you know,they’ve had Titanfall, it did really well. Third party game, but still. So,you know, they’re okay. I just think…it’s a hard business. It’s hard to make consistent hits,” he said.

Pachter is right, of course- it is a profit driven business, Lionhead was an expensive studio that hadn’t put out a profitable game since at least Fable 2, Microsoft have failed at building a profitable first party on the whole, and it is a difficult business- still, I look at Sony supporting obviously unprofitable ventures like The Last Guardian or Gravity Rush, or Nintendo with The Wonderful 101 or Xenoblade, and I can’t help but draw a contrast here between companies that actually seem to care for the medium and its artistic and expressive potential to an extent, and a company making purely profit driven decisions.

Stay tuned to GamingBolt for our full interview with Michael Pachter.


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  • lagann

    “Pachter is right, of course- it is a profit driven business, Lionhead was an expensive studio that hadn’t put out a profitable game since at least Fable 2, Microsoft have failed at building a profitable first party on the whole, and it is a difficult business- still, I look at Sony supporting obviously unprofitable ventures like The Last Guardian or Gravity Rush, or Nintendo with The Wonderful 101 or Xenoblade,
    and I can’t help but draw a contrast here between companies that
    actually seem to care for the medium and its artistic and expressive
    potential to an extent, and a company making purely profit driven
    decisions.”

    Aren’t you forgetting Sony sold off SOE recently?

    You cite The Last Guardian and Gravity Rush as examples of Sony caring so much about the medium primarily and profit second….and try to portray MS as this evil corp that is purely profit driven when according to the article, MS has spent so much money on these big studios…namely Rare and Lionhead which have been, as the article says, totally unproductive while at the hands of MS…..

    Your Sony fanboyism is coming out Pramath….please try to keep it in check.

    Also, the only thing i can agree with you on is about Nintendo. Nintendo is really the only one you can describe as being caring about the medium and profits second. They’ve released some of the best games around.

    • sgt_hammertime

      I came here to say the same things but you did it already so thumbs up

  • heima

    The most profitable game of the Fable series was the third one not the second one (5mln copies more or less).
    Check your facts for once in your life.

  • Orionsangel

    That you captain pachter the obvious.

  • Jimmy DoneGood

    To the author. If you are just here for the artistic expression. Why don’t you get rid of the ads on this site altogether. Ohh right you need to make money to survive.

  • Mr Xrat

    Xgimps still not handling the news well, I see. Poor souls.

    • Truth™

      Reminds me of Sonycucks trying to claim the playstation brand was OK after Sony fired Studio Liverpool in the middle of Wipeout on PS4 and now they all work on Android games despite Sony’s PR trying to claim they still work “With sony through XDev”

    • Bilal Prince-Ali

      lol…. please shut up….

    • Truth™

      Studio Liverpool was fired and disbaned despite producing two highly rated metacrtic games in the PS3’s lifetime.

      Explain why this was a great thing for Sony 🙂

  • textomatic

    Pachter is irrelevant. He’s going to talk about Microsoft’s big franchises and doesn’t mention Forza. The series has sold well over 10 million and has a hardcore following. There’s a reason they keep making the game.

  • jent

    I think it is amusing that you (Pramath) set up a bunch of statements/questions that in essence predict the downfall of Microsoft over this thing with Lionhead and Pachter shot all of them down. Doesn’t that tell you something?

  • Mike E. Delta

    I just wanna make sure I can at least finish up the games after they shut down LH… =s

    • MaximMillion

      The games will still be playable as they’re all offline campaigns.

  • Jonathan George Anaya

    Doesn’t Sony Charge for PS Plus because they want Money and don’t care for the Gamers?
    But, please write more articles about how Sony doesn’t need Money, please

  • MaximMillion

    Pramath sounds like a sony fanboy. Sony closed down a few studios last year, did you write an biased article framing them as a hero then?
    Didn’t think so. Sony are the same as MS, a business, they’re just not making as much money as a company.


 

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