John Needham, former CEO of both Cryptic Studios and Gazillion Entertainment, has been appointed studio head of Lionhead, Microsoft Studios EMEA has announced.

Needham will report directly to Phil Harrison, corporate vice president of Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment Business (EMEA), and will be responsible for the day-to-day management of Lionhead Studios.

Needham brings over twelve years of leadership, business development and financial experience in the entertainment and online gaming industries to the role.

Besides his time at Cryptic and Gazillion, Needham has also served as senior vice president of Business Development and Operations, and CFO at Sony Online Entertainment.

"This is a historic time in our industry and I'm excited, and honoured, to be joining Lionhead and Microsoft Studios," Needham said of his appointment.

"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."

Harrison commented: "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."

Peter Molyneux announced he was to leave Lionhead and Microsoft back in March 2012.

Needham's appointment is a clear indicator of the direction Microsoft wishes Lionhead to take, focussing its developments on the online game space - the studio behind Fable has been heavily linked to the development of an MMO.

Source: Press release