Casting aside any sort of assumed brand loyalty, former Sony executive Phil Harrison has joined Microsoft.
Those of you who meticulously track gaming industry figures with the pubescent ferver of a Tiger Beat-addicted teenybopper will remember Mr. Harrison as the exceedingly British, glabrous Executive Vice President of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe. Harrison left that post in 2008, joined Atari's Board of Directors in 2009, resigned less than a year later, then took an advisory position with Gaikai. Since then, he's made few public moves, though this morning's revelation certainly changes that.
At Microsoft, Harrison will fill a "corporate vice president" role for the company's "Interactive Entertainment Business" team. If your brain parses those phrases as largely meaningly corporate doublespeak, congratulations, you're a human being. In short, it means that Harrison will be one of the bigwigs directing Microsoft's efforts at dominating the home entertainment marketspace.
"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," Harrison said, via the standard homogenized press release announcing his new position.
This hiring comes at a very interesting time for Microsoft, given that Fable creator Peter Molyneux vacated his role as Microsoft Studios Europe Creative Director only a few dozen hours ago. I wouldn't describe Molyneux's departure as suspicious or dramatic, but it was unexpected, and Harrison's hiring shortly thereafter might cause conspiratorially-minded folks to wonder if the two events are somehow related.
So, we asked, and according to Microsoft's public relations team, they aren't. To wit:
... Phil's role on the IEB leadership team is completely unrelated to Peter's departure. Phil will lead Microsoft Studios European organization, but will also influence the broader performance of IEB's European business. 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.
There you have it. It's a weird coincidence, but there's no conspiracy. Just a big game of corporate musical chairs, that (unless you own Microsoft stock) will likely have no affect on your continued well-being.