Fable Legends Free-To-Play Model Isn't "Evil," Dev Says

"It's a model that is a weapon, in some sense. So a weapon can be used for good and a weapon can be used for evil."

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In a new interview with GamesIndustry International, Fable Legends game director David Eckelberry offers new insight into why developer Lionhead Studios chose a franchise-first free-to-play model for the upcoming Xbox One game. Making the game free-to-play was not a directive that came down from Microsoft higher-ups, but rather it was the result of experimentation and actually came about organically.

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Still, Eckelberry acknowledged that free-to-play hasn't always been seen in the best light. It's his job to prove to fans that Lionhead is approaching free-to-play in a way that doesn't come at the cost of the experience, but rather improves the game overall.

"It's a model that is a weapon, in some sense. So a weapon can be used for good and a weapon can be used for evil," he said. "We wanted to be sure that the world knew that we weren't doing this for the reasons of a business model. Nobody came to Lionhead Studios and said, 'We want you to make a free-to-play game.' They said, 'Make a new Fable game.' And we said, 'OK, let's experiment, let's be innovative.'"

"Microsoft is much more interested in making a happy community of players and making the Xbox and Windows 10 a fun place to play--it doesn't need us to be evil," he added.

The reason Lionhead didn't announce Legends' business model until just recently was because the studio wanted players to think of the game as a full-blown, large-scale AAA game. Announcing the game as a free-to-play title could have led to the perception that it was something other than what it is.

"It's the biggest and most expensive Fable game that we've ever made in terms of the amount of time we're investing in it and the size of the team," Eckelberry said. "It's a major project for Lionhead, as big as we've ever done."

"It's the biggest and most expensive Fable game that we've ever made in terms of the amount of time we're investing in it and the size of the team" -- Eckelberry

"We really wanted the world to get a sense of that; we wanted everyone to know we wanted to do this innovative thing," he added. "Look, whether we had charged $60 for it or brought it to market as we are, we wanted people to be excited about playing it, instead of worrying about how they were going to buy it."

Legends launches on Xbox One and PC later this year featuring cross-platform play.

When the game arrives, players will have access to "Season One" content, consisting of a traditional linear RPG storyline and side quests, along with four heroes to play as. Those who choose to play as a villain will have a range of different creatures to command, which are tied into the narrative.

Lionhead is promising that players will be able to experience the entire game for free, with no gated areas, along with open access to all quests, and no energy bar to limit play time. For more on Legends' free-to-play model, check out GameSpot's in-depth preview.

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