Molyneux: “industry wasn’t ready” for Milo And Kate

Peter Molyneux has said the reason Lionhead's Kinect concept Milo And Kate never saw release was that the videogame industry "wasn't ready for something as emotionally connecting as Milo."

Speaking to VG247 last month, before news broke of his departure from Microsoft, Molyneux admitted that Milo And Kate, which was first shown off at E3 in 2009 and played a key role in Microsoft's early promotion of the Kinect sensor, was "the wrong concept for what this industry currently is."

"The problem with Milo wasn't the ambition; it wasn't the technology. It was none of that," he said. "I just don't think this industry was ready for something as emotionally connecting as something like Milo.

"The real problem with Milo was – and this is a problem we had lots of meetingts over – where it would be on the shelves next to all the computer games. It was just the wrong thing… It was the wrong concept for what this industry currently is."

Milo And Kate – also referred to as Project Milo – was billed as an "emotional AI". The first footage showed a woman conversing naturally with the onscreen Milo, a ten-year-old boy, and his dog Kate. Confusion arose over whether the project was a game, or merely a tech demo, and Molyneux later admitted struggling to convince Microsoft of its potential as a fully-fledged videogame.

"Maybe this industry one day won't be like that," he said, "but at this particular time, having a game that celebrates the joy of inspiring something and you feel this connection, this bond; it was the wrong time for that."

Molyneux went on to say that many of his Milo technology has been used in upcoming Kinect exclusive Fable: The Journey, but "it's just not this delightful celebration of youth… the most powerful story I could possibly tell is a story that reminds you of your own childhood.

"We've all had times in our childhood – we've all had common experiences when we felt down, and we felt up, or we celebrated doing something for the first time, and I loved that thought."

Microsoft confirmed Molyneux's departure from Lionhead, and his position as creative head of Microsoft Studios Europe, earlier this month. The Populous creator has returned to independent development, joining 22 Cans, a Guildford-based studio set up last year by former Lionhead CTO Tim Rance.

Microsoft has since announced the appointment of former Sony Worldwide Studios president Phil Harrison; while his remit will be focused on Europe he is not a direct replacement for Molyneux, whose position remains open.