Phil Harrison has joined Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Business team as Vice President. Harrison has a long history in the video game industry, and much of that time was spent with Sony. Indeed, Harrison first joined Sony in 1992. Until his resignation in February of 2008, he held a variety of positions including Vice President, Third Party Relations, and Research and Development. He was also named President of Sony’s Worldwide Studios when the organization was first created in 2005.
Regarding his new role at Microsoft, Harrison said he was excited about it:
“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.”
Microsoft has said that Harrison will be working to improve their European business and are excited to bring him aboard. Corporate Vice President Phil Spencer went so far as to say they were honored to have him:
“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.”
The president of IEB, Don Mattrick, made a similar statement:
“Phil has played an instrumental role in shaping modern console history through his keen insights into both hardware and software strategy… 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.”
Analysis: Phil Harrison’s move to Microsoft is big. He has been heavily involved with the PlayStation brand for sixteen years (this assumes Sony had been working on the first console two years prior to release). Considering that the Xbox is seen as the major rival to the PS3 right now, having a player as big as him switch sides says a lot. It’s no secret that the 360 has been leading the hardware sales numbers by a large margin; in fact, it’s been in the lead for the past seven months. At this point, Microsoft is going to do everything in their power to keep that lead, even going as far as hiring people who contributed to the success of the PlayStation over the years.
I’m not sure what projects Microsoft has up their sleeves, but everything here points to their wanting to expand their business in Europe. I believe this is to make up for their lack of market share in Japan, but they could very easily have other reasons for wanting to do so. Regardless of the reasons, hiring Harrison is probably a good move, considering his background with the area. He likely has a lot of European contacts and friends in the industry that would allow him to build the relations they need to bolster their market share in Europe.