The moment Molyneux realised he had to leave Xbox... when the MS chair police arrived

"I felt like I was being suffocated creatively"

Former Microsoft Studios European boss Peter Molyneux has revealed the moment he realised he needed to leave the house of Xbox and form his own studio... when the Microsoft chair police arrived to adjust his seat.

Speaking in a typically frank chat with Develop, the ex-Lionhead man confessed that in Microsoft's bubble wrap world of procedure and policy, he felt like he was being "suffocated creatively."


He said: "About 18 months ago, this series of strange things started to happen. I started to get all these accolades. I got a BAFTA Fellowship. I got a Lifetime Achievement Award in Spain, another in Italy, over in the States I picked up a few more. They were all coming in.

"Of course, I was unbelievably proud of it. But eventually I took a long hard look at all these awards lined up on the mantelpiece and asked myself, do I really deserve these? Are these a representation of everything I've done before? I couldn't believe it. Is this it? People were saying 'you've done it all, Peter'. Have I?"

The Populous creator conceded he simply couldn't accept that his best work was already behind him, a feeling that eventually led to his departure from Microsoft.

"I had this unbelievable desire to make something special," Molyneux explained. "Of course I didn't have the idea for the game itself, partly because when you're at Microsoft any idea you have is property of Microsoft.

"But then, this terrible thing happened to me. One day I was at the studio sitting on my chair, in the zone, my eyes closed, my headphones on, blaring music in, trying to think of ideas for Fable: The Journey.

"Suddenly I felt my chair move. I looked around. Standing there was the Microsoft chair adjustment personnel, this nice woman who comes over once a month, fiddling with my seat settings to make sure it was posturepedically correct. I thought; this is insane."

The designer said the chair incident, among other ultra-safe Microsoft procedures, meant that he eventually felt like he was in "a creative padded cell".

"Microsoft was so safe. Microsoft was so nice. You're so supported. Everything I did couldn't hurt me, both creatively and physically," he explained. "The danger was long gone. I had this huge desire to make something truly special, and I felt like I was being suffocated creatively a little bit. That was the moment I realised I had to go."

Peter has since formed his own studio, 22Cans, where he says his mixed team of veterans and industry outsiders will eventually create "something that will inevitably change the world".

"I've been given so many advantages in life. Many of them through luck. I've got a profile, I've worked with incredible people, publishing bosses know me, developers know me, people know who I am. I believe it has all led me to this point. I believe the greatest game I've ever made is still ahead of me."

Molyneux was replaced at Xbox by former PlayStation studios boss Phil Harrison.