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."