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Lionhead's new boss is a free-to-play MMO expert, will "take advantage of Microsoft's incredible hardware"

John Needham appointed as studio head, touts free-to-play experience

Meet the new boss, the same as the old boss! Or not. Microsoft has appointed the decidedly non-Molyneux-esque John Needham as studio head at Lionhead. Where the sorely missed Peter M gave us emotional simulations, moral quandaries and cartoony meditations on the nature of God, Needham's all about multiplayer of the massive variety. Moreover, his "deep understanding" of subscriptions, free-to-play and mobile gaming "will be a huge benefit" to both Lionhead and Microsoft's wider operations in our hemisphere. A hint as to the future of Xbox? Quite probably.

"John has been a prominent figure in the video game industry since 2001," reads a release. "As the former CEO of both Cryptic Studios and, most recently, Gazillion Entertainment, John brings over twelve years of leadership, business development and financial experience in the entertainment and online gaming industries to the role.

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"John's 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."

The man's past credits include senior vice-presidency of business development and operations at Sony Online Entertainment, board membership at mobile household Quark Games, and membership of the Gamestop Digital Advisory Council in the US.

"This is a historic time in our industry and I'm excited, and honoured, to be joining Lionhead and Microsoft Studios," Needham declared in the release. "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. Personally, I can't wait to get started."

Microsoft Studios corporate VP Phil Harrison (himself a newcomer) added that "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."

As revealed last year, Lionhead is crafting a multiplayer-driven game, which runs on the user-friendly Unreal Engine rather than proprietary tech. We'll let you know when they slap a title on the thing.

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