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Peter Molyneux leaving Lionhead to start new studio

Microsoft will soon bid adieu to one of its greatest storytellers, as Lionhead Studios co-founder Peter Molyneux declared he is leaving his post as creative director of Microsoft Studios Europe to form a new independent studio, 22 Cans.

"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.," he announced in a statement to Kotaku. "I remain extremely passionate and proud of the people, products and experiences that we created...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's departure marks an end to his fifteen-year tenure with Lionhead Studios, which began life in 1997 as an off-shoot of his first studio, Bullfrog Productions, where Molyneux first found his footing in the game making biz with classics like Populous, Dungeon Keeper, and Syndicate. During his time at Lionhead, Molyneux was the driving force behind the Black & White and Fable series; the latter of which became the studio's chief export after being acquired by Microsoft in 2006. His efforts and enthusiast public persona have won him respect and admiration amongst gamers and developers alike, as well as industry awards including, most recently, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts' Academy Fellowship trophy, and a Lifetime Achievement Award at last year's Game Developer Choice Awards.

"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,” said Microsoft in a follow-up statement, adding, “He has made an indelible mark on the games industry and we wish him all the best of luck in his future endeavors."

Since making his announcement, Molyneux has taken to Twitter to chat with fans about his bold next step. “I have left the lovely amazing Microsoft and Lionhead. Now for something really amazing, scary and brave a new company called 22 Cans,” he wrote, later admitting, “I look forward to this, but also a little bit scary if I'm honest.”

We wish Molyneux well on his new adventure, and looks forward to seeing what he'll have to hype up under the 22 Cans banner.