Lionhead Studios

Lionhead Studios

Infobox Company
company_name = Lionhead Studios
company_type = Video Game Developer
foundation = 1997
location = Guildford, Surrey, United Kingdom
key_people = Peter Molyneux
Tim Rance
Mark Webley
Dene Carter
Simon Carter

industry = computer and video game industry
products = Video Games
revenue =
operating_income =
net_income =
num_employees =
owner = Microsoft
homepage =

Lionhead Studios is a United Kingdom-based computer game development company led by industry veteran Peter Molyneux, and acquired by Microsoft Game Studios in April 2006.

Lionhead started as a breakaway from the developer Bullfrog, which was also founded by Molyneux. Lionhead's first game was "Black & White", a god game with elements of artificial life, strategy, and beat 'em up games. "Black & White" was published by Electronic Arts in 2001. Lionhead Studios is named after Mark Webley's hamster, which passed away not long after the naming of the studio. []

"Black and White" was followed up with the release of an expansion pack named "". Lionhead then released the popular "Fable", from satellite developer Big Blue Box. In 2005, Lionhead released "The Movies" and "Black & White 2". On April 6, 2006, it was announced that Lionhead Studios was to be purchased by Microsoft to further bolster their range of Xbox 360 games.

Corporate Structure

For a period of three years, Lionhead set up a network of "satellite" developers, including Big Blue Box Studios (developers of "Fable)", Intrepid Games (developers of "B.C.", since suspended due to a massive overrun) and Black & White Studios (who have taken responsibility for the continuation of the "Black & White" series). Lionhead proper was working on three games, Fable, B&W2 and The Movies, potentially including "Dimitri".

The "satellite" system has ceased to exist in any meaningful form since mid-2004, however, with Big Blue Box having been more or less integrated into the main company, and Intrepid essentially having been disbanded.

Lionhead was a privately held company until October 2004 (shortly before the suspension of BC) when a consortium of investors, including Ingenious Ventures, IDG VE and technology firm Add Partners, made a significant investment into the developer. This at a time when the company was in severe financial straits, as they had over-run development on two projects, "Black & White 2" and "Fable", and also canceled B.C. and a project with Jeff Minter named Unity.

However, since September 2005 Lionhead have successfully released two titles, "Black & White 2" and "The Movies", as well as an updated version of "Fable" (entitled ). To date, these titles have not achieved a massive impact in sales, and this left the company vulnerable to a takeover bid. They have since finished the highly anticipated Fable 2 and an unknown game, for which only subtle hints have been dropped, which may have been a continuation of "Dimitri". [] []

In April 2006 Lionhead Studios was acquired by Microsoft, signalling the end of independent development, and a focus on Microsoft's proprietary gaming platforms. Lionhead will be a fairly independent part of Microsoft Game Studios, which has also acquired Rare Ltd. and Bungie Studios (Bungie Studios became an independent studio in late 2007, shortly after the release of Halo 3)


Lionhead has received a lot of media attention for delays to their games, in part due to the large amount of publicity and hype generated for their games. Various reports on this indicate a company tendency to re-design games mid-development and a tendency toward over-ambition, though few reports are official. The company is always on the cutting edge of developing new technology, especially in the area of NPC AI, which adds considerably to their development schedules. Peter Molyneux, who often refers to himself as either the lead designer or creative director of Lionhead, often promises specific release dates early on in the development of his titles. This causes particular problems and disappointment among fans as many release dates are pushed back, sometimes more than once. "Black & White" missed several deadlines until it was finally released in 2001. A similar problem occurred with the release of "The Movies" which was intended for a 2004 release date but was eventually delayed to 2005.



* "B.C." (Xbox)
* "Unity" (GameCube)
* "Black & White: Titan" (Xbox, PlayStation 2)
* "Black & White" (PlayStation, Dreamcast)
* "The Movies" (GameCube, Xbox, Playstation 2)

External links

* [ Lionhead Studios]
* [ Official Lionhead news site]
* [ About Lionhead]
* [ Interview with Head of Lion Studios Peter Molyneux by BBC Blast]

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