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New Lionhead studio head announced

Ex-Cryptic Studios CEO John Needham takes charge of the Fable house

Microsoft has appointed ex-Cryptic Studios and Gazillion Entertainment CEO John Needham as boss of Lionhead Studios.

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Responsible for the day-to-day management of the Guildford based Fable studio, Needham takes on the role departed by Lionhead founder Peter Molyneux in March 2012. He will report directly to Phil Harrison, corporate VP of Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment Business.

Needham, who has also served as senior VP of business development and operations, and CFO at Sony Online Entertainment, will bring over twelve years of games industry leadership to the role.

Microsoft said his "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".

Needham said: "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 added: "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."

Last October, following the completion of Kinect game Fable: The Journey, Microsoft issued redundancies to "less than ten per cent" of staff at Lionhead. In its official statement the platform holder confirmed that production on the studio's next projects had begun.

In May 2012, a LinkedIn profile hinted that the studio may be working on an RPG with MMO elements for Microsoft's next home console.

It has been heavily rumoured that Microsoft will reveal its next-generation Xbox platform at an as-yet-unannounced event on May 21.

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