Fable III is the upcoming entry in the action-RPG series by Lionhead Studios (part of Microsoft Game Studios), headed up by Peter Molyneux, the designer who is famous for spouting off pie-in-the-sky features about his next ‘best game ever’ that are eventually cut way back … only to repeat the process for the next game!
The original Fable was released in 2004 for XBOX360 first, followed up by an extended version for PC called ‘Fable: The Lost Chapters’. The game was originally going to be the ‘all-RPG’, taking you from birth to death in a ever-growing world in which you would see trees grow and houses slowly decay and so on. What we got, however, was a ~12 hour long whimsical, linear action-RPG with few real choices and your age progress cut down into childhood, teen years, and adulthood. You do age over time and build up scars and so on … it was a solid game that most folks agree was well done and enjoyable, but it was obviously far below the original promise.
The next game – again hyped to the max – was an XBOX360 exclusive, something PC gamers complained about until they saw the game itself. Still an enjoyable game, but some severe limitations made it even less replayable than the original, and after some positive early looks most folks agree that this was a bit of a disappointment.
Now we are gearing up for the third entry – what promises to be another fun game that will over-promise and under-deliver, but that tons of people will still have playing.
Only now we are learning that once again PC gamers will be waiting for an unspecified time to get their version. According to a statement from Microsoft to IGN, the PC version is now no longer arriving on October 26th:
The company would not say how long PC players will have to wait to get their hands on the game, however, though expect to hear something about a release date soon.
“The console and PC versions are now on different schedules as we’re focusing on building experiences optimized for each platform,” the company said in a statement.
“We aren’t announcing a ship date for the PC sku at this time, but expect news soon.”
OK, I’m just going to put my opinion out there: the delay of the PC version has nothing to do with technical requirements, and everything to do with pushing the XBOX360 sales of the game. Why do I say this?
– Many times we have seen dual-release games get delayed – and it is *always* the PC version that gets delayed. Why? Fear of piracy – which is only slightly justified.
– Digital downloads and new DRM have greatly stifled piracy, which will still happen but is harder now than ever. However, hosting on Steam (#1 digital site) costs Microsoft money.
– Now that Digital sales are ~50% of PC game sales, and since tying a game to an account (e.g. Steam, Battle.net, Games for Windows Live), there is much less concern about rampant day-one piracy. That argument is done, thank goodness!
– Microsoft has been a weak PC game supporter since the release of the XBOX – since they get added console loyalty, plus the $10 more they charge for console games goes straight to the bottom line!
– Since the X360 is nearly 5 years old, games to run on it will easily run on most PC’s and laptops >~$500 these days – this means that people can easily run games on their PC that they HAD to get a console for before.
So … by pushing back the PC version, they boost the sales of X360 versions of the game since many console gamers buy games on day-of-release similar to seeing movies on opening weekend. They also push back the clock for pirates to crack the game, and boost their bottom line.
Since they will eventually release the PC version they get to claim they are big PC game supporters without having it impact their core XBOX gaming business. And if anyone complains they will have hoards of console gamers saying ‘its a console world, deal with it and be happy you even GET a PC version!’ Microsoft wins all around.
Despite my ranting, since I enjoyed Fable five years ago (the PC version released in 2005) I will undoubtedly play Fable III on the PC … whenever it launches. How about you? Do you believe my paranoid theories? Or do you think they are just that? And what do you think about the silly cinematic?