Fable III was the sequel to the hugely popular Fable and Fable II. One of the ways in which it strove to differ from those two titles was to feature more character customization. At one point, the team at Lionhead Studios was planning to highlight this by featuring a black woman on the game’s cover. However, this apparently didn’t go down so well with the folks over at the marketing department.
In a feature by EuroGamer, which chronicles the history of the now closed Lionhead Studios, Lionhead art director John McCormack revealed how marketing was very resistant to the idea of a black woman being on the cover art.
Though Fable III was published by Microsoft, McCormack said: “The marketing was shit, It was terrible. They just didn’t get it. But it wasn’t Microsoft’s marketing. Marketing was like its own department. And they were going, what are you making? An RPG? Right, dragons and shit. And that was their advert. And we were like, no, ours is a Monty Python-esque comedy.”
“They were going, you can’t have a black person on the cover, and you can’t have a woman,” McCormack said. “And you want a black woman. And I was like, yes, I do, because it’s about be whatever hero you want. No. It’s a white guy. That’s just the way it is. We know what sells and that’s fucking it. Stop the arguing. I was like, fuck 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 fuck you, man. I hated it.”
It seems McCormack understandably became very frustrated.
“I was screaming at them in conference calls. 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!”
Fable III was released back in 2010. Over the last few years, gamers have been vocal in their desire to see people from all walks of life represented in video games. If Fable III were in development today, one hopes there wouldn’t be such an issue over having a black female on the box art.