Microsoft Rejected Fable Dev's Idea to Put Black Woman on Fable 3 Cover - Report

"I was screaming at them in conference calls."

348 Comments

[UPDATE] It's been confirmed now that McCormack's comments were about Fable III, not Fable II. The headline and text have been updated to reflect that.

The original story is below.

As part of Eurogamer's fascinating, in-depth report on Fable developer Lionhead Studios comes a story about a time when the team pitched Microsoft on the idea of putting a black woman on the cover of Fable III. According to former art director John McCormack, Microsoft vetoed the idea.

He was not pleased.

"They were going, 'You can't have a black person on the cover, and you can't have a woman. And you want a black woman.' And I was like, 'Yes, I do, because it's about be whatever hero you want.' [According to McCormack, Microsoft said] 'No. It's a white guy. That's just the way it is. We know what sells and that's f**king it. Stop the arguing.' I was like, 'F**k you!' That was a huge fight."

"They said, 'What's the most unsuccessful Disney film? I was like, 'I don't know.' They went, 'Princess and the Frog. Work it out.' I was like, "F**k you, man.' I hated it."

McComack went on to say that Microsoft "missed the point" of Fable III overall by putting a traditional-looking, male hero on the cover.

"I was screaming at them in conference calls," he said. "I lost it at that point, because they just weren't getting the game. Especially because we were the first ever game that had gay marriage, we were about breaking down walls. It was meant to be funny and mature. They just took none of it and just did the usual white guy with a sword on the front. Damn it! You missed the point!"

No Caption Provided

According to Eurogamer's report, McCormack's story is something of an outlier.

"Most who worked on Fable II speak of the relationship with Microsoft in glowing terms," the report said. "The company comes across as one keen to retain the magic that has spawned the first Fable, that quirky British humor that went down so well with Monty Python fans back home."

Also in the report, McCormack said one of the reasons why he quit Lionhead in 2012 was because Microsoft rejected his pitch for a "darker, grittier" Fable 4.

GameSpot has contacted Microsoft to see if the company has a response to McCormack's comments. We will update this post with anything we hear back.

In 2012, Naughty Dog revealed that it was asked to put one of The Last of Us' main characters, the young woman Ellie, on the back of the box.

"I believe there's a misconception that if you put a girl or a woman on the cover, the game will sell less," director Neil Druckmann said at the time. "I know I've been in discussions where we've been asked to push Ellie to the back and everyone at Naughty Dog just flat-out refused."

Box art has the tricky job of capturing your attention and representing the game. BioShock Infinite's box art was criticized for not representing the tone of the game. Director Ken Levine responded to the criticisms, saying the cover was designed for the uninformed, not fans of the series.

Lionhead officially closed its doors at the end of April. Microsoft reportedly fielded numerous buyout offers for the studio and Fable franchise, but Microsoft apparently rejected them all.

GameSpot may get a commission from retail offers.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

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Homey_D_Clown

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When I first read this article I gave it no credit the I began to think about MS owned titles and the ethnicity of each main character.

Halo - White man

Gear of War - White man

Quantum Break - White man

Fable - White man

Sunset Overdrive - White man

TitanFall - White man

Dead Rising - White man

Damn, I first thought they were bull shiting, I guess not!

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FreeRyu

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@homey_d_clown: The guy from DR looks Hispanic.

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Attitude2000

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@homey_d_clown: Do we know what race Master Chief is? You can't go by voice, Michael Dorn has voiced a variety of races.

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sladakrobot

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@Attitude2000: You would knew if you finished Halo 4 :-)

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sladakrobot

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Edited By sladakrobot

@homey_d_clown:

Quantum Break...its made by Remedy,a dev from Finnland.
Not a country with a great population of black people(are there black people living at all?).
Do you blame them for nor thinking of a black lead character when they create a game?
t would be like expecting a dev from South Africa to make a white lead character.

Sunset Overdrive...as soon you start the game you land in the character creation mode,which nullifies your comment.

Halo...With Halo 5 we have Locke,a black guy. You are right previous parts.

How many main characters are black in Nintendos and Sonys games?

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Metallinatus

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@sladakrobot:

"How many main characters are black in Nintendos and Sonys games?"

"Not a country with a great population of black people(are there black people living at all?).

Do you blame them for nor thinking of a black lead character when they create a game?"

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Homey_D_Clown

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@sladakrobot:

There aren't that many black people in Montreal Canada either, yet the main character in one of the Assassins Creed game was black man, was it not?

When I began the list all I thought about were the characters on the cover, and correct me if I'm wrong but the character being shown on Sunset Overdrive is white , right?

And before you try to correct me again, maybe try looking up MS published games with any minorities or women on the cover, go ahead take your time.

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sladakrobot

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@homey_d_clown: "I began to think about MS owned titles and the ethnicity of each main character"
You didnt mention cover arts and therefore my reply is like it is.
Its great the there is a one black lead character in one of 15 AC games so far. There is also a female lead in the Vita version as far i remember.
But...for a game series where devs points out that the diversity in religion,ethnics or gender is very important to them,the result is pretty one sided...imo.
I am not here to defend MS as i will not find any games with covers with persons with a minority or other backgrouds but that it a problem of the whole industry including Sony,Nintendo,Atari,Sega,Capcom,SquareEnix and others.
Of course you will find nice exceptions like Tomb Raider,Remember Me,Never Alone,Mirror Edge but these are excetions from the rule(unfortunatelly).

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suicidesn0wman

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@homey_d_clown: All the mains in AC are white except for Conner, who is half American Indian. You might be thinking of the Adewale DLC for Black Flag, which took a side character who had a small role in the main game and gave him a small expansion. I believe it was called Freedom Cry.

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Fedor

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@suicidesn0wman: AC liberation had a black female lead.

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bluebird08

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Who cares, I'm sick of this racist, sexist crap.

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Myron117

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@bluebird08: Probably because you are white and male. If you were female and another ethnicity you will get bothered again and again. Want to change your hairstyle? only one to choose from is shaved head. Want to customise voice? only white voices. want a main character that's black, barely any.

Try and name 10 either Black, Hispanic or Chinese MAIN characters . If you can name them, time how long it takes to count 10 of them then do the same with white protagonists.

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Fedor

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@Myron117: why do they have to be Chinese?

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YohanDeEmercer

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@Myron117: white people are harassed more than any other

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brn-dn

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Edited By brn-dn

@Myron117: You're the problem.

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Myron117

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@brn-dn: explain

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konor

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Edited By konor

@Myron117: Slsly, you must be black, cause you people shout racist left and right when you find something that you do not like. You want fucking Chinese main characters? Check out 3/4 games from Asia ffs.

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Charlton2

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@konor: Japan is 98% Japanese. America, 65% at best. We know you don't care about other races. We know you're racist. Just admit to being one.

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Simplytrolled

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The part that gets me is that THIS is what people are concerned about these days. I have just about had it with all of this talk of racism in everything white people seem to do or say these days. It's the cover of a game...who cares, who buys a game based on the cover anyways. There is definitely racism in the country no doubt about that but it isn't even close to what certain people and groups are making it out to be. Most of it is just whiny people looking for an easy way to get out there on TV or in a news article. Racism is actually being made worse by the fact that people are still talking about it every day. You will NEVER eradicate racism from this world, it will never happen. Everyone has things people do not like about them. Whether you are black, gay, poor, rich it doesn't matter everyone suffers from discrimination. So if you are black or gay or white and you act like this man in the article shame on you. You are not special, you do not DESERVE anything and you are not a knight of justice for people who have been "hurt" by discrimination. Stop worrying about what others think of you and what others think of your race and just get on with your lives. Go out there and do something useful for society. Look at Obama, as much as I dislike him as a president there is no denying his success, do you think he gives a damn about racist people? If you were truly a person deserving of respect you would have it. So think about that the next time you look in the mirror.

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Charlton2

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Edited By Charlton2

@simplytrolled: You don't care because you are white.

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JoshRMeyer

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I'm no business man, but everytime I see one of those Hardee's commercials I crave a burger.

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Myron117

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This is disgusting. I am truly shocked at Microsoft for this.

But im damn sure it's 90% of publishers that think the same way, so hats off to EA/Dice for Battlefield 1 which im going to buy day 1 (Which i refrain from doing as it's always buggy as shit)

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masscrack

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Edited By masscrack

@Myron117: so battlefield 1 appealed to your demographic and they got you to buy the game already.. thats what they planned dude, its all about $$$ they don't give a shit about you lol.

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Balrogbane

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@Myron117: I'm shocked that so many people just take this one ex-employee at his word. I'm not saying it didn't happen just that I would need some proof first.

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Myron117

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Edited By Myron117

@balrogbane: I work at a company, these types of things are NEVER written down. It's either verbal, or over the phone (and those calls may be recorded). It doesn't surprise me in the least from the things i hear at my workplace.

A business as big as Microsoft? Worse.

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Balrogbane

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@Myron117: Like I said it may very well have happened. But the fact that there are no names given as to who supposed to have said it makes me skeptical.

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Myron117

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Edited By Myron117

@balrogbane: True, but i doubt they'd want to drop the guy in it like that. He could lose his job over something that happened a few years back.

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cayne_phoenix

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Edited By cayne_phoenix

@anakin11380: Social Justice Warriors - those who tend to "fight" against racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, etc,

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Cnoggl01

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@cayne_phoenix: and by "fighting" you of course mean "typing heated arguments on message boards" lol. Some warriors.

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cayne_phoenix

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@Cnoggl01: shhh, you'll make the SJW efforts seem trivial :D

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PStrife

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Seems like this guy is an agenda pushing SJW, even bringing this to the media forefront now only puts more focus on who he is, not really Microsoft at all. It isn't his money being used at the end of the day, stop being so annoyingly sassy about the marketing end. McCormack should get into marketing, if so smart! Put your money where your mouth was.

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Meatball01

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You can't even be black in Fable 3. This story makes no sense.

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Spartan-1657

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@Meatball01: This is exactly what was going through my head the entire time reading this article. I even googled it after just to make sure I wasn't wrong. You cannot be black. This guy is an idiot. Sounds more like he didn't understand his own game.

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konor

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Edited By konor

@Spartan-1657: No, no, no bro. Everyone is racist. We do not need any proof. Internet has spoken and judged. One guy gave an interview so it must be true. 100 % objective and true. Do not let them tell you that it was not true and if you think he lies you are probably RACIST

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alaannn

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no wonder ms got rid of the devs

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deactivated-5893d17ed65b4

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If choosing a black woman is done simply to push an agenda, then I'm not for it. If it's done for a legitimate purpose, as seems to be the intent here, then I support the decision.

21 • 
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Jako998

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well I cant say I'm surprised really. White people for some reason always have to be " on top" compared to black people to sell stuff. Why? I don't know and it needs to stop

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brn-dn

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@jako998: Battlefield 1? Mafia III?

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Myron117

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@brn-dn: Please, name some more.

Name 10 black main protagonists, time yourself then name 10 more white protagonists and time those.

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brn-dn

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@Myron117: No thanks, this isn't Tumblr.

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JoshRMeyer

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@jako998: it might have something to do with one being a minority and one not. I'm not racist. I love American football and hockey and both are oddly in favor of either whites or blacks. It makes no difference, it's just how it is.

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Myron117

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Edited By Myron117

@joshrmeyer: . "I'm not racist".

Im sure you're not and a lot of people on this site aren't. I just hate that you have to state it in this day and age just because you may disagree. I welcome your opinion, please dont ever shy away from it and that goes for anyone else here.

I blame my own race when it comes to rap music (especially in the US in 2000 era) for portraying continuously that they have guns, that they treat people like shit, drugs guns etc...it all sticks to people and reinforces the stereotype

But the media, they dont like to/want to show the achievements, the professors the lecturers, the scientists, the fire fighters the positive black role models. Instead they're focussed on the fucking retards that ruin it for the rest of my race.

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JoshRMeyer

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@Myron117: I appreciate your response. And I'm glad you see why blacks get a bad stereotype. It sucks it's like that, but like you said, rap and other media like BET don't exactly represent the race well. Morgan Freeman should be the new MLK. He seems to get it. Not talking about racism is the best way to rid this gen of it (not completely but you know what I mean). I'm 35 so I never really experienced racism, in fact, most of my friends were black just because of where I lived. There are some great black people that represent your culture well out there, and I hope the media soon focuses on that.

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Jako998

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@the-promethean: wait what? I never said nor put whites in a racist category... wtf?? hit the door please

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