The incestuous game industry showed how it got its reputation, as Microsoft has announced that Phil Harrison, former Sony executive and PS3 head honcho, has joined Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Business (IEB) leadership team as corporate vice president with an emphasis on growing the division’s European business. Translation: dude’s focused on expanding the Xbox 360 in Europe.
Phil’s role on the IEB leadership team is completely unrelated to Peter Molyneux’s departure. Phil will lead Microsoft Studios European organization, but will also influence the broader performance of IEB’s European business. We will continue to rely on our stable of first party developers as we determine if and when the Microsoft Studios Europe Creative Director vacancy should be filled. Peter’s previous role as Lionhead Studio Manager is being filled by Lionhead COO Mark Webley.
As the senior IEB leader in Europe, Phil will lead the Microsoft Studios European organization directly and influence the broader performance of IEB’s European business through strategic partnerships and determining culturally relevant entertainment experiences to Microsoft platforms, now and in the future. Translation, part deux: Microsoft doesn’t quite ‘get’ Europe yet, so they brought in the big gun to help them figure it out.
In addition to the wealth of experience Harrison has in the console gaming space, he has immersed himself in new business models and technologies, particularly in the mobile and social space and will bring that market perspective to bear in the new role. He will also tap his deep experience in studio leadership to grow Xbox’s development efforts in Europe, including overseeing UK-based developers Lionhead Studios, Soho Productions and Rare Ltd. Final translation: first-party Xbox studios in Europe aren’t cutting the mustard, and homey needs to help. He’s going to work on games for Windows-based tablets and phones too.
“Phil has played an instrumental role in shaping modern console history through his keen insights into both hardware and software strategy,” said Don Mattrick, president, Interactive Entertainment Business. “His addition to our leadership team will impact our global business in innumerable ways, as he aligns our studio development and growing portfolio of entertainment experiences in Europe to drive our continued growth worldwide.”
Harrison brings 25 years of games industry and development experience to his new role as the senior leader for IEB Europe. He was a long-time leader at Sony Computer Entertainment, where he held various senior executive positions within the company, most recently as president of Worldwide Studios. After leaving Sony, Harrison joined the board of Infogrames, as president of Atari, where he led the company’s transition into online gaming. Most recently, Harrison is co-founder and General Partner of London Venture Partners, LLP the venture capital firm focused on the web, mobile, social and cloud game sector, where he will continue as Special Advisor.