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Peter Molyneux leaving Microsoft

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Peter Molyneux

One of the biggest names in Microsoft's stable of developers is leaving the company.

Peter Molyneux, the creator of games like Fable, Populus, Theme Park, and Black & White, has announced plans to leave both Microsoft (where he serves as creative director) and his own Lionhead Studios once development is complete on his latest title, Fable: The Journey.

"It is with mixed emotions that I made the decision to leave Microsoft and Lionhead Studios, the company that I co-founded in 1997, at the conclusion of development of Fable: The Journey," he said in a statement to Kotaku. "I remain extremely passionate and proud of the people, products and experiences that we created, from Black & White to Fable to our pioneering work with Milo and Kate for the Kinect platform. However, I felt the time was right to pursue a new independent venture."

Molyneux plans to join a new game development studio, dubbed 22 Cans, he announced via Twitter. Lionhead's former chief technical officer Tim Rance started that studio earlier this year.

[ Related: Watchdog group probes 'suspicious' Microsoft hire ]

Molyneux is one of the more polarizing figures in the game development world. While he has undeniable vision, his enthusiasm and grand ideas sometimes overstep the final product that consumers receive. That led to the creation of a loving but hilarious faux-Twitter account from an anonymous fan, who's often dead on with his Molyneux-like musings.

Though he started making games in 1982, it wasn't until 1989 that Molyneux became a prominent figure in the industry. The release of Populus, the first "god game," instantly won him fans, and began his ascent.

From there, he went on to create notable franchises such as Dungeon Keeper and Black & White. In 2006, Microsoft acquired Lionhead, and the two have made the Fable franchise one of the Xbox's most popular. He also showed the potential of Kinect with a now-cancelled project dubbed Milo, which would have let players interact with a small child.

The parting seems to be an amicable one. Microsoft issued a statement of support for Molyneux as the news came out.

"As a co-founder of Lionhead and an integral part of Microsoft Studios, Peter was the creative visionary behind the blockbuster Fable franchise and one of our most passionate and influential developers for the Xbox 360 platform," the company said. "He has made an indelible mark on the games industry and we wish him all the best of luck in his future endeavors."

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