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Lionhead survived job cuts by remaining professional - Molyneux

Thu 02 Apr 2009 1:00pm GMT / 9:00am EDT / 6:00am PDT
Development

While internal game studios were hit by Microsoft cutbacks, studio boss claims professionalism kept team safe

Lionhead Studios

In 1987 Peter Molyneux founded Bullfrog Productions, along with his then partner Les Edgar in Guildford,...

lionhead.com

Peter Molyneux, head of Microsoft's Lionhead studio, believes that his developers survived the recent round of job cuts at the corporation by remaining professional and playing the internal PR game.

Lionhead was the only internal game studio not to be hit by job losses, as a headcount reduction of 5000 left casualties at Rare, ACES and Games for Windows Live, amongst others.

"Our mission statement is to be the most respected developer in the world, and to create landmark games. And underneath that, to be the most professional studio in Microsoft Game Studios," offered Molyneux, speaking exclusively to GamesIndustry.biz.

"Part of that means that when we want to do something, we can't throw our creative toys out of the pram and say, 'Look, we want to do this because we're really smart people.' We have to prove it.

"We have to take the internal PR really, really seriously, and be really nice people to do business with," said Molyneux. "I know that sounds strange, but it's so tempting when you're acquired by another company - and this is what happened at EA, with Bullfrog - it's so tempting to feel, 'Well, they're the big bad bosses, why should we try to open our doors?'

"We didn't feel like that, right from the outset. We tried to be welcoming. So being professional, being nice to do business with, being super-passionate - when people come to look at saving money and where to direct their resources, it makes their decisions easier to take."

Molyneux also discussed the recent claims that the work culture at Lionhead has changed since it was a acquired by Microsoft. A recent allegation of homophobic bullying suggested that the studio became a worse place to work under Microsoft's rule.

However, Molyneux disputes any such claims. "I think if you walk around that studio, everybody is happier and they feel more empowered and more creative than they've ever felt before.

"I think everyone is really happy at Lionhead. That happiness is defined by the products they've just worked on - Fable 2. People feel super-proud of what they've done, and they feel they're trusted creatively to do amazing things."

The working environment has actually improved at Lionhead, says Molyneux, due to the security of being part of a much larger corporation.

"Lionhead was in a pretty scary place, being an independent developer, in those days. Being an independent developer now must be very, very scary because money is so tight. When money is tight, that's when things get really tough.

"It doesn't matter how wonderful and nice you are - if you're wondering whether or not you can pay someone's salary next month, that creates an awful lot of stress."

An interview with Peter Molyneux, where he discusses Lionhead's experimental development process, can be read on our sister site Eurogamer.net.

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