Despite being something of an open secret for several weeks now, officials from Microsoft Game Studios (MGS) have announced that the company has purchased British developer Lionhead Studios.
Fronted by prominent industry figure Peter Molyneux, Lionhead has been responsible for the titles Black & White, Fable, The Movies and Black & White 2. Xbox exclusive Fable has proven to be the biggest commercial and critical success for the company so far with more than two million copies of the game being sold, including the Windows version.
“At Microsoft Game Studios we have worked hard to become the best partner for the best creative talent in our industry, and this acquisition underscores our commitment to excellence,” said Shane Kim, general manager of Microsoft Game Studios. “Peter Molyneux is one of the few true visionaries in our industry, and his joining us is incredibly important to the future of both interactive entertainment and MGS. Lionhead is a shining example of the innovative and creative talent that has delivered some of the most influential and unique games experiences to date, and I am honored to welcome Peter and the incredible people at Lionhead Studios.”
Although already closely aligned to Microsoft and its formats, both Windows and the Xbox, Microsoft’s decision to purchase the developer may have been precipitated by Molyneux’s numerous positive comments concerning the Nintendo Revolution’s controller, with hints that Lionhead was likely to be a strong supporter of the format.
“We could not be more excited about being part of MGS. They have long supported our creative vision, and this teamwork resulted in the hugely successful Fable franchise,” said Molyneux, managing director of Lionhead Studios. “This acquisition gives Lionhead the stability and opportunity to focus on creating world-class next-generation titles. We are joining some of the most incredible game creators in the industry, the combined talent of which will truly take next-generation gaming to a new level.”
This will be the second time that one of Molyneux’s companies has been acquired by a major publishing, the first being Bullfrog Productions, creators of the likes of Populous, Syndicate and Theme Park. In that instance the developer and brand did not last long after the purchase, with Molyneux leaving shortly after to form Lionhead.
The same is not expected to happen at MGS, where Fable’s position as the best selling role-playing game on the original Xbox makes Lionhead one of the publisher’s most important studios.