Microsoft welcomes former Sony Worldwide Studios president Phil Harrison as the new head of of its Interactive Entertainment Business for Europe. While Harrison's responsibilities as IEB Europe chief will encompass direct leadership over Microsoft Studios Europe and Microsoft's UK-based first-party studios like Lionhead, the company dismisses any parallel between his appointment and Peter Molyneux's recent departure from both Lionhead and Microsoft Game Studios Europe last week.
The company wanted to make clear that Harrison's recruitment is "completely unrelated" to Molyneux. According to a company spokesperson:
"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."
Harrison will be tasked with cultivating IEB Europe's growth by tapping into and fostering regional talent, to better deliver "culturally relevant entertainment experiences to Microsoft platforms, now and in the future." It sounds an awful lot like like his responsibilities back when he served as Sony's chief of European operations, though Harrison had considerable experience serving as executive management for the company's North American gaming business as well.
Harrison was also involved in the global launches of Sony's gaming consoles including the PlayStation 3, and Microsoft is definitely keen on him leveraging that sort of experience at his lofty new position with the company. It will be interesting to see if Microsoft will similarly warm up to Harrison's vision of a games industry that will become less centered on the "old guard" of major players.