Oh, how the cogs of destiny turn slowly. Who knew a couple years back that Phil Harrison, who left his role as corporate executive and a representative director of Sony Computer Entertainment, Inc. to become president of Infogrames and later Atari's non-exec director, would be taking the job that Peter Molyneux, of Fable and Black&White fame, would leave behind.
Or will he?
According to Microsoft's United States PR, Phil Harrison will indeed be moving over to their European offices but will NOT be replacing the role left behind by Peter Molyneux, which was creative head of Microsoft Europe's studios:
"[Phil Harrison's hiring] is completely unrelated to Peter [Molyneux's] departure. 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."
Rather, Harrison's job will be that of corporate vice president at the Interactive Entertainment Business (IEB), and will be directly in charge of growing Microsoft's studios European division. The official word is that he will "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."
Phil Spencer, a longtime Microsoft executive had these words to say on the hiring of the other Phil:
"We are honored to have Phil join a team that boasts a wealth of talent from across the industry. 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."
Microsoft's reach around the globe is slowly becoming tighter and tighter as its place in the industry becomes more apparent. When the Xbox first launched in November of 2001 I doubt people had any idea that a company whose focus was soley on licensing an operating system could become one of the bigger players in the console wars.
With the addition of Harrison, Microsoft is showing that it needs leadership from those who know the business through and through. The key players are lining up for one of the biggest fights of their life as the industry turns the corner to an unknown future; will discs soon become obsolete? when will digital distribution take over? will Nintendo pull off another stunning victory right out of the gate with Wii U?
So many questions lay in the near future and it's pretty apparent that the big guys can sense it too.
Do you think the hiring of Phil Harrison will make any dents in the way Microsoft operates as a whole in Europe or even in the States?