Xbox's Fable reboot suffers from Microsoft's overreliance on contractors

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The Fable reboot art with a classic Fable character

Xbox’s upcoming Fable reboot is one of the most intriguing exclusives for the green gaming brand. While games like Hellblade 2 and Perfect Dark are still in development, Fable has seen more hype than any other Xbox Series exclusive.

However, it seems that not all is well in Microsoft’s fantasy land. While Forza Horizon developer Playground Games toil away at the new fantasy RPG, Microsoft’s history of contractors and internal tools spells trouble for the magical RPG.

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Fable is currently expected to release in 2023 on Xbox Series consoles and PC, but the new game is currently without a release date. But what is taking so long?

In a report from Windows Central, it’s been claimed that development on the Xbox exclusive Fable reboot isn’t going as smooth as expected. As with previous Xbox exclusives — such as Halo Infinite — Microsoft’s overreliance on contractors is causing issues.

Microsoft’s wish to use short-term contractors, usually on six-month contracts, has caused issues with development. Combined with the publisher’s insistence on using internal engines and tools instead of standard tools like Unreal Engine, short-term contractors don’t have enough time to learn how to work within these projects.

According to job listings from 2021, Playground Games’ Fable reboot is being developed with the ForzaTech Engine. Known for the simulation racing games Forza Motorsport, the game engine is a proprietary tool that is not an industry standard that contractors will be familiar, unlike Unreal or Unity.

Microsoft does allow some studios to use industry standard engines, but not all. The Gears of War franchise uses Unreal Engine, but that series has since Epic Games’ original in 2006. Additionally, Hellblade 2 uses Unreal Engine 5; the first game used UE4.

Many expected Microsoft to push developers to use internal tools it acquired after buying Zenimax in 2021. This acquisition gave Xbox developers access to IdTech, the Creation Engine and Arkane’s Void Engine. At the time of writing, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Two years into the new generation and Microsoft is struggling to release exclusive games. While titles like Redfall are scheduled for 2023, the Xbox owners are far behind the constant hits of Sony’s PlayStation. Xbox doesn’t have an answer for God of War, and fans are starting to get annoyed. Hopefully, 2023 will be a slew of hits, because Xbox desperately needs it.