In an exclusive Develop interview, Peter Molyneux has candidly confessed that Lionhead lacked focus and was wasting money before Microsoft acquired it – but says now, a year after selling the company, the studio is in great creative shape.
The interview, published in the April issue of Develop which is out now, looks at how Lionhead is refining its creative and production process, but Molyneux himself wanted to begin his chat with the magazine by “fully” admitting that recent releases such as “Black & White 2 and The Movies, and to a lesser extent Fable: Lost Chapters, weren’t the games they should have been.”
Molyneux, who only a few weeks ago was named as a Chevalier (knight) award winner from France's Order of Arts, said: “The main reason was we’d grown into this huge beast. We weren’t focused. We were spending too much money. £1.5 million a month takes away your creative clout and your creative butterflies.”
With over 240 staff, the release of the above games seemed to prove Lionhead had lost some of the magic that had made it one of the world’s high profile gamemakers – specifically, it had lost the ability to take creative risks, said Molyneux.
“That's the pressure of the industry,” said Molyneux. "It's not about triple-A anymore, it’s triple-triple-A or triple-A cubed. You can’t promise and not deliver. That’s something we realised, certainly after Black & White 2.”
But he adds: “Now Lionhead’s about focusing on doing one thing at a time. Being acquired by Microsoft has allowed us to focus again. We’re focused on one and a half things; Fable 2 and Project X.”
Key to the activity has been the improvement of Lionhead’s project management, and scaling its attentions back to fewer projects. The studio now also boasts a new Central Technology Group, which is working on unified solutions and ideas for all the Lionhead game teams and also working on CONCRETE, a new game engine.
“One of my ambitions is to become the most professionally run studio in Microsoft Game Studios,” reveals Molyneux. “By professionally run I mean when we say we’re going to do something, we do it, but still make games that sell.”
The full interview with Peter Molyneux can be found in the April issue of Develop, available to download for free here.