Ex-Sony boss Phil Harrison joining Microsoft as Peter Molyneux exits

Update: Microsoft has confirmed Phil Harrison’s appointment is not a direct result of Peter Molyneux’s departure, but in fact a unrelated coincidence. The company also announced Lionhead COO Mark Webley would be taking over Molyneux’s role at Lionhead, while the Microsoft Studios Europe Creative Director position will be left vacant until it decides on a fitting replacement. Major Nelson verified this in a recent tweet, stating, “FAQ:Is Phil Harrison replacing Peter Molyneux? A: No. Phil’s role on the IEB leadership team is completely unrelated to Peter’s departure”. Obviously, we’re not as close to the situation as the good Major, but one has to wonder if Harrison’s role would be what it is now had Molyneux never left.

Microsoft has selected ex-Sony boss Phil Harrison to take a lead position at its European Game Studios branch. The appointment comes one week after Molyneux announced he will be leaving his post as creative director of the overseas division to launch his new studio, 22 Cans. The two events, we’re told, are completely unrelated.

Harrison is best known to industry watchers as the former head of Sony’s Worldwide Studios. Following his work with Sony, he spent a brief time as president of Atari, and later as an advisory board member with Gaikai. For his next act, Harrison will join Microsoft as the corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Business (IEB) team. His duties will include growing Microsoft’s European business, and overseeing operations at Lionhead Studios, Soho Productions, and Rare.

“We are honored to have Phil join a team that boasts a wealth of talent from across the industry,” said Phil Spencer, Microsoft Studios’s corporate vp, in the official statement on Major Nelson’s blog. “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.”

Reflecting on his new role with a former competitor, Harrison added: “I am excited to be joining the senior team at Microsoft at a pivotal time for our industry. 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.”

Phil Harrison hyping Microsoft? Surely, this is one of those alternate reality paradoxes we were warned about as kids. What do you think of Microsoft’s new hire?

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