The video game industry sees established figures come and go and in some cases that results in a few folks landing in unexpected places. For the most part figures central to their companies such as Cliffy B, Jack Tretton, and The Houser Brothers have stayed with their respective companies but the same can’t be said of everyone and that includes former SCE Worldwide Studios boss Phil Harrison.
It’s not news that Harrison left Sony as that happened way back 2008 and then he went on to join Atari, a move that seemed odd all around. The initial departure of Harrison from Sony was a big deal considering his position within the company and how he was the face of Sony, or specifically the PS3, at that time. However as most of us know it’s easy to move on and I think even the most ardent of PS3 fanboys have done so in the last few years.
With acclaimed game designer Peter Molyneux announcing his departure from both Lionhead and his core responsibilities at Microsoft, a position needed to be filled within Microsoft’s game branch and none other than Phil Harrison has been tapped to fill the slot. An official announcement has yet to be released, but according to the sources of both GameIndustry.biz and Eurogamer, Harrison will become the boss of Microsoft’s European game studios, effectively assuming a role similar to what he did when he was with Sony.
There’s not much else about this news that’s official as of now, but with Harrison’s previous expertise at Sony and Atari he does seem like more than a suitable fit to help guide and mold studios like Rare and Lionhead for the next-generation Xbox. Harrison’s imminent arrival to Microsoft isn’t exactly a betrayalton since it’s been four years since he left Sony but of course fanboys, on both sides of the fence, will paint it as such since it allow them to banter endlessly and feel good about themselves.
With the current state of Microsoft’s European studios being a bit meager it’ll be interesting to see what Harrison does to help build Microsoft’s roster of talent. Will we see any European studios, or what’s left of them at least, be acquired by Microsoft to help bolster the line-up of original content on XBLA and the next-gen Xbox? Such things obviously won’t be known for quite some time but I just wonder what sort of direction Harrison will push certain developers to explore and if any previous talent he worked with during his SCE tenor will accompany him at Microsoft.
To give credit where credit is due, Harrison was rather instrumental at Sony for backing games such as Infamous, LittleBigPlanet, and Heavy Rain – all of which paid off extremely well for Sony in the long run. It may be hard to duplicate such success at Microsoft but with a new Xbox console waiting in the wings maybe Harrison will be able to strike gold once again.