Microsoft confirms the hiring of former Sony executive Phil Harrison


Phil Harrison left Sony back in 2008. He had spent 15 years with the company and was one of the their most recognizable public faces. In fact he was one of the founding members of Sony Computer Entertainment. Harrison had served in senior positions across North America and Europe before being appointed the founding president of the newly conglomerated Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios when it was formed in 1995. Harrison’s responsibilities included setting the global product strategy and managing development operations of 16 studios in five countries. He had played a pivotal role in Sony’s gaming business. Then (during a particularly rough time for the PS3) he decided to resign. The next time we saw Harrison was as director of infogrames, back when it was becoming Atari. He left that position back in 2010 and there hasn’t been much heard about him since.

Well it turns out Phil has a new job now and it is with a rather surprising employer. The quintessential Sony man is now the head of the European Games Studios for Microsoft. Harrison will replace Peter Molyneux, who as of last week left Lionhead Studios and Microsoft to join 22-Cans. Some strange things going on in the video game industry lately. I would have never expected to see Peter Molyneux leave Lionhead, A company he co-founded and I certainly didn’t think I would see Harrison become a Microsoft guy.

Microsoft’s Official Announcement:

Microsoft Corp. announces that Phil Harrison, video games luminary and former Sony executive, has joined the Interactive Entertainment Business (IEB) leadership team as corporate vice president, with an emphasis on growing the division’s European business.

As the senior IEB leader in Europe, Phil will not only lead the Microsoft Studios European organisation directly, but will also influence the broader performance of IEB’s European business through strategic partnerships and by bringing culturally relevant entertainment experiences to Microsoft platforms, now and in the future.

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 the development efforts of Xbox in Europe, including overseeing UK-based developers, Lionhead Studios, Soho Productions and Rare Ltd.

“I am excited to be joining the senior team at Microsoft at a pivotal time for our industry,” said Harrison. “I am really impressed with the company’s long-term vision for growing the market for interactive entertainment globally and also with the incredible wealth of talent, technology and resources the company has available to succeed.”

“We are honored to have Phil join a team that boasts a wealth of talent from across the industry,”
said Phil Spencer, corporate vice president at Microsoft Studios. “Phil is one of video gaming’s true visionaries, and his experience overseeing global studios and deep industry relationships make him the ideal person to lead our European efforts. Under his leadership, we look forward to continuing cultivating the best talent and growing our business in the region.”