Sounds like it could have been incredible :-/
"However, we were also under pressure to be enormously profitable. To be clear, Fable 1, 2 and 3 were highly profitable, despite the somewhat protracted developments of Fable 1 and 2, but not being as profitable as one or two of Microsoft's other properties created a certain amount of tension."
It was in this context that a pitch for a Fable 4 game was rejected. John McCormack was the chief architect of the pitch. He wanted to switch to Unreal Engine 4 and move the series into the technological, industrial age, with tram cars and flying machines. "We wanted to hit the late Victorian proper far out Jules Verne shit," McCormack says.
In the first Fable, Bowerstone was a small town. In Fable 2 it was a big town. In Fable 3 it was a city. In McCormack's Fable 4, Bowerstone was London, vast and dense. Jack the Ripper would run the streets, a Balverine in disguise.The game would lean heavily on British mythology. McCormack planned to take Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, give them a Fable twist and drop them in "this kind of weird fucked up London environment".
"And that was going to be Fable 4, and it would be darker and grittier. And because it was R-rated it would have the prostitutes and the humour. I was like, man, this is going to be fucking brilliant, and everybody was really into it."
Well, not everyone. The pitch was rejected because Lionhead had to switch to making games as a service.
McCormack was incensed by the decision, and says it was one of the reasons he left the company in 2012. "It was like, you've reached your cap of players for RPG on Xbox and you need to find a way to double that, and you're not going to do it with RPG," he says. "I thought, yes we can.
"I said, look, just give us four years, proper finance, give us the chance Mass Effect has, Skyrim has, the games at the time. They're getting four years and a lot of budget. Give us that, and we'll give you something that'll get you your players. Nah, you've had three shots and you've only tripled the money. It's not good enough. Fuck off. That's what I was annoyed about."