Even after seven years under Microsoft control, Lionhead still retains its own studio culture, according to creative director Gary Carr. Carr told OXM that Lionhead is the "opposite" of Microsoft's corporate culture, and the parent company was aware of this when it needed to replace founder Peter Molyneux.
"To be fair to Microsoft, they didn't want to drop in a Microsofty person," said Carr. "They wanted to find somebody who fitted the culture of Lionhead. Because when they did culture tests on Lionhead, and we're at the opposite end of the scale to where Microsoft normally are."
Microsoft ultimately settled with former Cryptic CEO John Needham as Lionhead's new studio boss.
"They know the culture of the studio, they know we want to retain an identity, and they also knew Peter's a difficult person to replace, and I'm glad they took so long because [Needham is] an absolute spot-on hire. The best thing about John is he's a people person, he can completely relate to anyone, he knows everybody in the studio by name already, he walks around, he talks to everybody, he asks them about themselves, he makes everybody feel like they're part of the studio."
Carr was insistent that Lionhead stands separate from Microsoft and is focused on making its games great. Lionhead is currently working on Fable Anniversary for Xbox 360 and Fable Legends for Xbox One.
"I'm not a Microsoft corporate dude," said Carr. "I want to make sure that Lionhead doesn't just sip the Kool-Aid, I want us to be a developer that makes games we think people actually want to play."