Phil Spencer: Lionhead's future is safe
MGS chief also hints at the security of Rare as well, thanks to high productivity
Phil Spencer, head of Microsoft Game Studios, has told GamesIndustry.biz that the publisher has no plans at all to follow up the closure of Ensemble Studios with a similar move on Lionhead - and he also hinted that Rare's productivity would secure that team's future as well.
Speaking in his last interview on UK soil before flying back to the US, Spencer also talked about the importance of the European development presence, and noted that the British talent represented the company's "largest concentration of studio resources anywhere on the planet".
"The studios, and the franchises, remain a very important part of our success," he explained. "An important part about those studios, and the creation of the MGS organisation is Europe, is for our platforms to succeed here."
When asked directly about the future of Lionhead and Rare, Spencer was quick to praise both teams, particularly the output of the latter studio.
"The work that those studios are doing [is] incredibly important to MGS. For Rare, this will be their fifth game in the first three years of the Xbox 360 - that's crazy. Two launch games? What studio on the planet signs up for two launch games? That's just crazy.
"So the productivity and effort in those two studios is just great to see," he added.
And on the subject of Lionhead specifically, he confirmed that the studio's next project would definitely be an MGS title, but denied that the publisher had any plans for a Bungie- or Ensemble-style arrangement going forward.
"Well I'm going to drill in on that a little, but no - no plan for Lionhead," he said firmly. "But even the Bungie games that come out as Bungie - the entity they are today - are still MGS games. We look at those as first party games.
"In terms of our investment in a game like Crackdown or Gears of War, where they're developed by other developers - those are as important to us as games that are developed by internal studios.
"Because in the end, our customers care about exclusive content - I'm not sure they care what business card the people who are building those games have. Is anybody going to look at Gears of War and say it's not a pillar franchise for us on 360? No, because it is. But we don't own Epic, and Mark Rein and those guys are their own people. That's good.
"So yes, the next Lionhead game is definitely an MGS game. And Peter's right - it's very different than games that Lionhead or many others have built before," he finished.
The full interview with Phil Spencer is available now.