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Even as the Satellites were growing up and signing deals, creature-featuring RTS/virtual pet title Black & White, which Lionhead's Molyneux himself described as "probably one of the most hyped games in existence," was approaching its debut. Molyneux commented of the insanely rabid hype behind the game, which was beyond what any of the Lionhead creators expected:
"At one point in 2001, the game was the 6th most-requested piece of information on the Internet." In the end, the game, which debuted in March 2001, sold two and a half million copies on the PC, despite a slightly mixed critical reception following the extreme hype.
Following the sales success of Black & White, Molyneux noted that the resultant cashflow "...put us into a very unique place" in terms of possible future expansion. So what did the company do next? Molyneux grinned: "I played a game of squash with Mr.X, who was a city person."
Apparently, this un-nameable Mr.X insisted that there was a valuation of half a billion pounds for Lionhead, explaining: "All you have to do is float your company." Working towards this plan meant that the company had to expand in certain very specific ways to satisfy the financial types, and led to the swift expansion of the company to a "massive team of people."
Why so? Well, to tick the right boxes to float as a firm, Lionhead as a company had to get bigger and had to have a much more complex infrastructure, including a full board; as Molyneux noted, "These were serious business types." He continued by commenting that the founders set up Lionhead "to do original games" - and the momentum "was such was that the focus was at least somewhat off the games."
This financial-friendliness even had to extend to game concepts, unbelievably, as Molyneux noted of the game concepts they were working on: "It had to be an idea that bankers understood,". Apparently, the bankers were a little confused by Black & White, basically understood the RPG/fantasy nature of Fable, and particularly 'got' The Movies. But whatever the amount of banker comprehension, the expansion proceeded apace - Lionhead was growing very fast, "by 2 or 3 people per week," in this 2002-2003 timeframe.