March 13th 2012 8:00 am PT

Former Sony Exec Phil Harrison to join Microsoft

Today we’re announcing that Phil Harrison is joining Microsoft to help grow our efforts in Europe. Full text of the  press release is below, but please join me in welcoming Phil to the Xbox family.


REDMOND, Wash. — March 13, 2012 — Microsoft Corp. today announced 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 organization 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 Xbox’s development efforts 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.”

“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.


Industry, Xbox 360 By Larry Hryb, Xbox LIVE's Major Nelson

  • Emil Overgaard


  • Kairu

    “Including overseeing UK-based developers Lionhead Studios, Soho Productions and Rare Ltd.” Let’s hope he gets Rare picking from their pool of IP’s.

  • Chris Jay Falcon

    He’s a Sleeper agent for Sony!

    • Luke Es | sE ekuL

      Oh, you.

    • Anonymous


  • Brad Gravesen

    Must have him on the show!  Major, make it happen!

    • Daniel Brady

      Agreed! Major, you know of course we (your listeners) pretty much expect a show including Phil now. I look forward to it. Should be interesting!

  • Luke Es | sE ekuL

    Welcome Phil! Let me be nowhere near the first one to say “Moh-ta-stohm.” It’s the gaming equivalent of “mazel tov”. :D

  • Jason Danforth

    Welcome aboard Phil.  I know a lot of people want to make this a partisan issue, but we’re both professionals.  I get it.  Good luck with your new job!


    lost gamerscores?

  • Karl Cramer

    Xbox Home coming soon! Kidding aside, whatever happened to his time as director of Atari?

  • Anonymous

    Rubber duckie, you’re the one. You make life so much fun.

  • Anonymous

    This should be pretty interesting. He may be able to help bring the best parts of the PS3 world onto the Xbox platform making Xbox the ultimate platform for gaming and entertainment.

    • Liza Friend

       Gosh you sound like a Microsoft corporate drone. Xbox won’t be the ultimate platform of anything until they fix the 1080p video downscale problem and get rid of the awful Metro dashboard.

      • Anonymous

        There is no 1080p video downscale problem last I checked. I think you should check your settings.

        As for the metro dashboard, give it sometime. I remember back when the NXE Dashboard first came out, people hated it initially but then they got used to it and ended up liking it over the original Xbox 360 dashboard.

        I used to be Xbox-centric like you, but then I realized that Sony and the PS3 isn’t the enemy of Mirosoft and the Xbox 360. The real enemy is Apple and the iPad. If you saw the release of the newest iPad, you’ll see that Apple’s intent it to crush and phase out gaming consoles and PC’s so that the only gaming platform available will be the iPad. I’m willing to stick up for the PS3 in addition to the Xbox 360 and PC to make sure that game consoles and high quality gaming are not ruined by Apple. That’s why I welcome this Sony exec joining Microsoft. Divided the Xbox 360 and PS3 fanbase will defeated, but if there’s the chance that the Xbox 360 and PS3 fanbase can unite, Apple will never get it their way. Long live game consoles and PC’s.

        • Anonymous

          The biggest problem with the Metro dashboard is it LOOKS like Metro, but it doesn’t function like Metro.

          Metro allows you to put things where YOU want them and supports widgets, so you could (for example) have a weather tile.

          If the Xbox version supported these basic features that Windows Phone and Windows 8 Metro has, I don’t think people would be complaining half as much.  But instead it looks like Metro, but its not.

          The only saving grace is that its STILL nicer to use than the PS3 XMB.

          • Anonymous

            I don’t think the Xbox 360 can support a customizable UI.  People have been asking for this for some time and Microsoft has yet to deliver it, and I think that’s simply because what would be required to support it would require more than the system was designed to handle. 

            Not to mention, if you’re inside playing games why do you care what the weather is outside? :P

            Certainly the next generation will be a bit more interesting.  With Windows 8 apps on the market and available, it would seem many of those could easily be integrated into an Xbox console that fully supported Metro apps.  The Metro version of IE seems like it was made for the console as much as it was made for a tablet.  

            Back in the 1980’s you could buy a Ford Mustang with a 2.3L 4 cylinder engine.  Despite the fact that the two looked essentially the same on the outside, that didn’t mean the 4 cylinder variant had the same capabilities as it’s 5.0L V8 counterpart.  People need to understand, a UI and an OS are two separate things.  Just because the UI on the Xbox 360 has the same look and feel of the UI of Windows 8 doesn’t mean the underpinning OS has the same capabilities. 

            The Xbox 360 has a certain set of design limitations that it will always have, the only expectations you can bring are for what will be in the next generation console.  You have to live with the limitations of this generation as they won’t change before it’s done.

  • J.A.J.G. Thiéfaine

    Wow, another proverbial rat fleeing the sinking ship.
    It’s astonishing how many executives have left Sony and its departments this past year.

    Welcome Phil!

    • Anonymous

      You do realize that he left Sony back in 2008, don’t you?  Wait, no, obviously you don’t.

    • Ardania

       Whose ship is sinking? Microsoft’s or Sony’s?

      Because clearly the Xbox is losing its steam with no new exclusives or IPs.

      • David D Davidson

         Wow if you really can’t tell, then you are clearly a fanboy… but in the case you are just ignorant, I’ll give you a hint it’s the one that’s made almost a 9billion dollar loss on it’s third console, losing any profit it’s previous one had made.

  • bushmaster2000

    He could be a Spy trying to feed info back to Sony how how Xbox does things so well….  

    • Anonymous

       Not really, as plenty of their own customers have been telling them how the Xbox does things so much better and Sony just ignored them.

      People were begging for cross-gaming chat forever and granted it turns out they just didn’t assigned enough resources to the PS3 OS to implement it.  However they THEN promised the PS Vita would get it and now the Vita is out guess what, it doesn’t work on half the games because they disable networking “to save power”.

      The PS Vita is an awesome piece of hardware, I love it despite Xbox being my favourite console.  But I really wish Microsoft had made it as Sony don’t seem to have a clue how to make a gaming OS that works properly. (not that am 100% happy with the direction the Xbox dashboard is going)

      • Kairu

        Err… I think he was joking. 

  • Bennijin Turbo

    Sony’s mailed a package to Microsoft, it’s contains a half-eaten sandwich and a note saying “we thought you’d like these leftovers too”.

    Joking aside, hopefully this new blood could give MS EU the kick up the jacksie it so sorely needs.

  • Neftali Rodriguez

    Tell Rare to make Killer Instinct 3. Please, fighting games are being re born it would be a great time.

    • Ardania

       Don’t push it, MS acquired Rare years ago and they still haven’t produced any compelling games on the platform.

      Also, these days Rare is used to make the avatar clothes and props as well as some Kinect games.

      Basically, the old Rare with Banjo Kazooie, Killer Instinct and Conker’s Bad Fur Day doesn’t exist anymore.

    • Boe2

      Rather: re-release conker reloaded, in HD. Without the censoring. (Seriously, the foul language was ok for Nintendo, but not for Microsoft??)

  • Wai Chi

    Major, any words on the achievements loss incident?

    • J.A.J.G. Thiéfaine

      Should be completely fixed now. Recover your gamertag! Even achievements that were gained during the glitch have been added to my profile now so everything is OK!

  • Anonymous

    This is a really interesting and very strategic acquisition for the Xbox team.  Clearly, Microsoft is seriously interested in improving sales in its European market.  Phil will bring a great deal of executive experience and contacts within the European region to a team that could greatly benefit from it.

    It’ll be interesting to see what strategy changes Microsoft engages in in the next 12-24 months, and what successes Phil brings. 

  • Ardania

    We lost Molyneux and get a Sony executive? interesting…is he gonna make any exclusives or new IPs? probably not.

    So it doesn’t really matter.

  • Stuart

    Executive movements at Microsoft? Does anybody care but the investors?

  • Anonymous

    Welcome Phil – if you want to grow the European business a good place to start would be by recognising what makes the EU the EU.  Freedom of movement is enjoyed by European citizens so find a way to make MS see this and allow us to change our country of residence between EU states without losing our gamertag!

  • Daniel Brady

    Wouldn’t it be cool if this was all some huge secret Microsoft plot to create some game franchise like Metal Gear starring Phil Harrison where he infiltrates the competition and has to fight the Halo statue at the Microsoft campus at the end? Then the real Hero at the end of the game would be the dude that guards the Halo statue with that fire extinguisher! 

    I expect to see this awesome parody idea on XBLA soon. Your welcome. :p

    • Daniel Brady

      I wouldn’t mind seeing it in the Indie games section either.