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New Lionhead Studios boss is an MMO veteran

Microsoft has appointed ex-Cryptic Studios and Gazillion Entertainment CEO John Needham as boss of Lionhead Studios. Needham will take charge of the day-to-day running of the UK based Fable studio, assuming the role Lionhead founder Peter Molyneux left last year.

Needham, who also previously served as senior VP of business development and operations, and CFO at Sony Online Entertainment, will bring over twelve years of industry experience and MMO knowledge to the company. He’ll report to Phil Harrison, corporate VP of Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment Business.

In its official announcement, Microsoft said Needham’s "deep understanding of all aspects of the gaming industry, from subscription-based, massively multi-player to client-based console and free-to-play online, PC and mobile experiences, will be a huge benefit to Lionhead and European Studio operations more widely".

Last October, after the completion of Kinect game Fable: The Journey, Microsoft cut "less than ten per cent" of staff at Lionhead. The platform holder also confirmed that production on the studio's next projects had begun, and over the past year it has been speculated that Lionhead is working on an RPG with MMO elements.

Needham said today of his appointment: "This is a historic time in our industry and I'm excited, and honoured, to be joining Lionhead and Microsoft Studios. Our vision is focused on building innovative gaming services and AAA experiences at Lionhead, and the rest of Microsoft Studios, which take advantage of Microsoft's incredible hardware and software platforms."

Phil Harrison also commented: "It's my pleasure to welcome John Needham to Microsoft Studios and Lionhead. He brings a wealth of proven executive leadership experience in the online gaming space to the company and I know he will confidently lead Lionhead towards an ambitious online future."

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12 comments

  • winner2 - April 23, 2013 6:31 p.m.

    Am I the only one here who loved fable 2? I played it from start to finish without stopping.
  • Tulkastaldo - April 24, 2013 6:31 a.m.

    I loved Fable 2. It was emotionally affecting to the point that I felt a little depressed at the ending, but when I found out how much "post Lucien" content there was, I quickly got back into it. The secret cave with the katana near Garth's tower? The sex change potion? I wished it would never end. I missed the ridiculous powers from fable 1 though. Turning into a hulking monster and then assassin rushing enemies never gets old.
  • winner2 - April 24, 2013 6:41 a.m.

    Oh cool, I thought I was alone. Which choice did you make at the end? I thought the relationship would give me the sister back but I got the dog and was even happier. And then I tried the money so I could buy the castle. THEN I did the good guy choice and felt nothing whatsoever. The only thing i didnt like about the game is that when i finished it, everything felt as if the characters i cared about had moved on and I was just left behind in a world that felt kind of hollow post grand quest. Fable 3 had the same thing, but the overall game wasn't as good either.
  • Tulkastaldo - April 24, 2013 7:16 a.m.

    Haha. I made the good choice but immediately regretted it. I thought "bringing everybody that had been killed by the spire back" would include my wife and child somehow, since they were indirectly killed by its influence. I wish I got something besides a statue for having my family massacred.( I figured that making one tiny evil choice and sacrificing one person to get my dog back in the dlc was the least I deserved) I have to admit I made a ton of money in the pub games before I got the game, so my character owned half the kingdom by the end and the greed choice had no draw for me. Fable 3 was a massive letdown. It added mixable spells and evolving weapons,but its good moments graphically and story wise were overshadowed by how it dumbed everything down.
  • hahagirl727 - April 24, 2013 10:39 p.m.

    I picked the save everyone/good guy ending assuming my husband and child would be resurrected, they weren't. But yes I loved Fable 2 I became so emotionally attached to Hammer, Reaver, and my Doggie :'( that when they each left me I shed tears. After the game ended I kept playing, what a great experience. Also yeah Fable III really let me down, I loved the characters, but everything else fell flat. The duties as Queen nearly gave me a heart attack.. I hope that in Fable IV they can solve some problems and bring back some characters (those who are still alive of course).
  • PBC13 - April 24, 2013 9:44 a.m.

    I'd like to go on record as a massive Fable 2 fan as well! Absolutely loved it. It's up there with the most engaged and invested I have ever felt in a video game.
  • Frieza - April 23, 2013 5:40 p.m.

    Black and White 3 please. Or a good Fable game please. Or even an HD remake of Fable TLC please. Or just a game with more gameplay than loading screens please. If Needham can't bring Lionhead back on the radar, than I can't see a future for this company. It would be a darn shame if they closed down, since I've had a whole bunch of fun with Black and White 2 and Fable TLC.
  • shawksta - April 23, 2013 1:58 p.m.

    Hmm, interesting, wonder what the mmo will be and what will become of fable. Would Fable becoming an MMO be a good idea of potential or a terrible decision?
  • Frieza - April 23, 2013 5:34 p.m.

    It really depends on where they go with it. If they decide to go back to Fable's roots and have the MMO take place in the days of the Heroes Guild and the Hero of Oakvale, then I could see the game having a lot of potential. But if it takes place after Fable III or even II, then I can guarantee it won't be very good. I think most of the problems from Fable II and III were a result of the game being focused in a more industrial world than the original Fable. The whole idea of Fable was built around being a fantasy based RPG, so adding guns and taking away (most) magic didn't really translate well gameplay wise and story wise.
  • Rowdie - April 23, 2013 12:36 p.m.

    I'm more excited about the idea we will get some serious MMOs on consoles next gen than the thought on where fable might go. What's Bullfrog up to these days?
  • Fuzunga - April 23, 2013 10:21 a.m.

    I just realized that next year is the 10th anniversary of Fable. I would seriously buy the new Xbox if they remade the original game.
  • Tulkastaldo - April 23, 2013 8:12 a.m.

    Is Fable going to be another series I have to leave behind because it throws contrived MMO conventions into the mix? Doesn't anybody play games to, you know, get away from other people anymore? I'd honestly be interested if they did something innovative with it like Destiny.

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