Damn you Microsoft - Rare, Lionhead - who will you put on the chopping block next?
Doesn't Rare still exist in a uh... comatose shell of what it used to be or something?
I agree with the above statements about Molyneux. I loved that man's games before I even knew who he was (Raid on Bungeling Bay and Populus). I loved Black and White and the sequel, despite there being specific annoying issues, they were both great games.
As for the Fable series, I believe it was massively overhyped by both Molyneux and Microsoft. Molyneux had such grand dreams for the game - something that was going to be better than Morrowind, and Microsoft touted it as the killer RPG that would blow everything else out of the water. I specifically remember Molyneux's bragging that you could "plant a tree and watch it grow" or other such nonsense that never made it into the game. What we got instead was a linear action-RPG with a main story that, going slowly, was finished in 6-8 hours (not counting one of the longest credit sequences I've ever seen where if you skip them the game goes back to the title screen and you can't keep playing after the end).
Fable was disappointing if you had followed the hype. I looked at it for what it was, and in its own it was a fun game even though it was nowhere near what was promised. Fable 2 improved on complaints from the first, but had its own issues. Fable 3, my personal favorite because I think the story and coop were much improved, STILL had stupid issues that you would think they would have found in testing. Instead, when you look back at all the hype Molyneux was spouting off, it was likely a case of him trying to cram too much in with too little time - whether that was Microsoft's fault for a deadline or his because of the crazy vision, who knows. Actually, if you read the interviews from some of the devs, I blame Molyneux more because of the way he would come in, make crazy demands and changes, then walk away and expect it to just happen.
I think he got frustrated with all of the criticism and walked away to do something less stressful and different. And those projects have, for the most part, been pretty bad failures (despite attracting publicity - which Molyneux is good at). Honestly, these days he's a great PR guy but he shouldn't have a say in the development of stuff.
Anyway, as for Microsoft's gaming studio acquisitions?
Games: MechCommander 1 and 2, MechWarrior 4, Mechassault 1 and 2, Crimson Skies, Shadowrun (the crap FPS one)
Games: Do I really need to list them?
Set free: 2007 (before MS could kill them off)
Games: Starlancer, Freelancer, Brute Force
Games: Age of Empires, Age of Mythology, Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds, Halo Wars
Killed: Announced to be dismantled in 2008 - before their last game even released the next year.
Games: Battletoads, Wizards & Warriors, Killer Instinct, Donkey Kong Country, GoldenEye 007, Perfect Dark, Conker's Bad Fur Day, Grabbed by the Ghoulies, Conker Live and Reloaded, Kameo: Elements of Power, Perfect Dark Zero, Viva Pinata 1 and 2, Banjo Kazooie Nuts & Bolts, Kinect Sports, Kinect Sports Rivals
Killed: Still around, but let's be honest: They died in 2001
Games: Black and White 1 and 2, Fable 1 - 3, The Movies, BC (Original Xbox title cancelled in 2004), "Milo & Kate" (unreleased Kinect Tech Demo)
BC looked so amazing back in the day, but it was likely a lot of Molyneux hype and disappointment. Still, it looks like a game that was ahead of its time:
Games: Kinect Joyride, Kinect Sports 2, Joyride Turbo
Games: The Maw, 'Splosion Man, Comic Jumper, Ms. Splosion Man, The Gunstringer, LocoCycle
Set Free: 2015
Games: Max & the Magic Marker, Tentacles: Enter the Dolphin , Max: The Curse of Brotherhood, Tentacles: Enter the Mind, Kalimba
Games: Minecraft, Scrolls, Cobalt, Crown & Council
Still Alive: Without the original developer and loss of the creative vision, this is one I consider to be DOA.
A smart acquisition though, as they're on their way to make the money back on all the different game versions, texture packs, skin packs, and tons of merchandise.