In a statement to Kotaku, Lionhead Studios founder Peter Molyneux is leaving his company to join an independent game company named 22 Cans, founded by former Lionhead employee Tim Rance. The statement reads:
It is with mixed emotions that I made the decision to leave Microsoft and Lionhead Studios, the company that I co-founded in 1997, at the conclusion of development of Fable: The Journey.
I remain extremely passionate and proud of the people, products and experiences that we created, from Black & White to Fable to our pioneering work with Milo and Kate for the Kinect platform. However, I felt the time was right to pursue a new independent venture. I’d like to thank the team at Lionhead, as well as our partners at Microsoft Studios for their support, dedication and incredible work over the years.
Molyneux revealed that he will stay on as a consultant for the fourth Fable game, the Kinect-powered Fable: The Journey, before leaving permanently. In addition to his role as Lionhead’s chief, Molyneux was head of Microsoft Game Studios Europe, the division that oversees both Lionhead and fellow UK developer Rare. Lionhead’s co-founder, Mark Webley, will take over as head of the studio. Microsoft have not announced a new leader for their European Division.
Analysis: While it may seem at first glance that Molyneux was tired of big bad Microsoft ruining his artistic vision, it seems this isn’t the case; the split was rather amicable, as this statement from Microsoft indicates.
“As co-founder of Lionhead and an integral part of Microsoft Studios, Peter was the creative visionary behind the blockbuster Fable franchise, and one of our most passionate and influential developers for the Xbox 360 platform. He has made an indelible mark on the games industry and we wish him all the best of luck in his future endeavors.”
So over all, I think he doesn’t have any problems at all with Microsoft and Peter Molyneux is just being Peter Molyneux, a maverick who always wants to try new things. It’s not the first time he’s done this:iIn 1997, he left his original company, Bullfrog Productions, after selling it to Electronic Arts and then founded Lionhead.
I think it’s at this time he got his reputation for overhyping his games. All his previous titles at Bullfrog (Dungeon Keeper, Theme Park, Syndicate, Populous, etc.) have been innovative but still somewhat sane in scope. It’s why the most reasonable and under-hyped game in his Lionhead tenure, The Movies, is still my favourite.
I hope being in an independent studio can ground Mr. Molyneux and provide him with the incentive to produce more of the good old-fashioned business simulators that made him famous.