Microsoft has captured Peter Molyneux - one of the UK's leading game makers - with the purchase of Lionhead Studios in a move to secure exclusive titles for its XBox 360 console.

Molyneux has been a leading figure in the video game industry for well over a decade, and is best known for inventing the god genre in 1989 with Populous.

Some regard him as one of the world's most inventive game developers, with titles including Syndicate, Theme Park, Dungeon Keeper, Black & White and more recently Black & White 2 and The Movies.

There has been an increasing number of doubts surrounding the future of Lionhead Studios after Molyneux scaled back future projects by laying off one fifth of his work force after disappointing sales of Black & White 2 and The Movies. Neither game sold as well as Molyneux expected, despite a wealth of good reviews from leading publications.

A Microsoft spokesperson stated that the software giant was not going to put pressure on Lionhead to play it safe in the development of future headline titles. Molyneux's past proves that Lionhead is willing to do things a little differently. A recent example of this was The Movies, where players took control of a Hollywood movie studio, allowing them to create their own films.

The rumours suggest that Lionhead is working on a sequel to Fable. The RPG was heavily hyped by Molyneux during development and was released in 2004 without many of the features that were discussed during pre-release interviews. Could the sequel be an XBox 360 exclusive?

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