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Confirmed: ex-Sony man Phil Harrison to head up Xbox in Europe

Microsoft upgrades to taller bald man

Following a story on Gamesindustry.biz Microsoft has confirmed that Phil Harrison, previously a dyed-in-the-wool Sony man who worked on the launch of the original Playstation, has joined the company as the head of the European business that contains the Xbox 360.

Harrison left Sony in 2008, when the PS3 was going through a particularly rough patch, and reappeared as director of Infogrames as it was transforming into Atari. He left that company in 2010 as it was consumed by Namco Bandai, and hasn't been much heard of since.

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It's an interesting hire. While we've never had much cause to write about him around these parts, he's clearly got an unbeatable CV when it comes to managing studios and getting games made, and if the rumoured 2013 arrival of the next Xbox proves correct he's arrived in time to make his mark on the launch titles.

His new job as corporate vice president of Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment Business (IEB) includes dominion over Rare, Lionhead and the Soho studio that worked on Sesame Street, along with third-party developers like Crackdown curator Ruffian Games and Forza Horizon creator Playground. Microsoft's press release says that Harrison's main emphasis will be "on growing the division's European business," which will involve influencing "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."

We initially reported that Microsoft had hired Harrison to replace departing Creative Director Peter Molyneux, but the company denied this in a statement to Develop. Molyneux's job is still open, apparently, although there's no guarantee the company will fill it - the role was created for Molyneux and it might not survive him.

"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 honoured 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."

While an industry legend and a handy man in a press conference Harrison is, alas, far less loose-lipped than Molyneux so we fear he won't be quite as much fun to write about. We'll try not to judge him for it. Molyneux announced his departure from Lionhead and Microsoft two weeks ago, following a characteristically enthusiastic demonstration of Fable: The Journey. He's staying on at Lionhead to oversee the game's release this autumn.

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