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The Secret History of Lionhead: Molyneux, Webley Get Honest
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The Secret History of Lionhead: Molyneux, Webley Get Honest


October 16, 2006 Article Start Previous Page 3 of 5 Next
 

The Bust, The Alternative Plan

At this point, Molyneux and Webley commented, about "100% of our time" was spent on working on the financial deal - Molyneux even lamented that he put on around 3 stone in weight from business dinners revolving around the Lionhead flotation.

The deal was finally set to go through and Lionhead were to make a public statement on the float. But around 48 hours away from the final Go/No Go meeting that would have preceded the public announcement: "That's when the luckiest thing of our lives happened, and there was a crash." The bankers decided to call off the public floating of Lionhead.

Suddenly, this meant a significant change of tack - Lionhead needed to turn their float-centric business model to one centered around not floating. Thus, the firm signed The Movies to Activision in March 2003, and also focused on Black & White 2, while development of Fable continued at Big Blue Box/Lionhead. Even though a plan was still firmly in place, Molyneux referenced his thoughts at times on the financial-centric company workings: "My God, what the hell are we doing here?"


Black & White 2

Nonetheless, the company moved on, and Webley noted that the firm took the step of "closing down some of the prototype teams" at that stage in 2003, and focused on what they were doing next. Development for Lionhead's major titles included significant resources - around 70 people for Fable, for example.

But the company's freewheeling attitude to scheduling had led to some issues. Molyneux freely admitted that his "the game will take as long as it takes" approach wasn't necessarily the right choice when such big budgets were on the line. He commented: "My big mouth got us into trouble,", continuing, "You can't have that ethos when you're spending $10 million."

At this point, lacking the flotation-centric funding they had expected, Lionhead needed further investment to continue to thrive - and looked to venture capital. Webley commented: "They were very sympathetic for what we were going for,". Thus, deals with muliple VC firms were successfully signed in July 2004, allowing Lionhead's continued expansion. Fable, developed by Big Blue Box and Lionhead, finally debuted in September 2004, and has now sold over 3 million copies worldwide on both Xbox and PC - another significant sales success, although the game also suffered somewhat from excessive hype in some area of the press.


Article Start Previous Page 3 of 5 Next

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