Former Sony exec to head up Microsoft Studios Europe [Update]

When Peter Molyneux announced last week he was leaving as head of the Microsoft-owned game development studio Lionhead, he was also leaving his job as head of Microsoft Studios Europe. Now Microsoft has apparently hired someone to take over in that particular position.

Microsoft announced today that the company has now hired former Sony and Atari executive Phil Harrison. Officially, he will now be part of Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment Business leadership team as its new corporate vice president. As part of his duties, Harrison will be in charge of all of Microsoft's game development studios in Europe.

Microsoft's press release also says that Harrison will "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."

Harrison has a long history in the game industry. He is perhaps best known for his time working at Sony's Playstation division. He joined Sony in 1992 and later became the President of Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios, where he was in charge of all of Sony's game development studios around the globe.

In 2008, Harrison left Sony to join Infogrames, which later officially changed its name to Atari. As President of Atari, Harrison helped to switch the publisher over to releasing more online-only games, including having Atari acquire Cryptic Studios, the MMO game studio that launched Champions Online and Star Trek Online for Atari.

In 2010, Harrison left Atari and helped to found the game-themed investment group London Venture Partners. Today's press release says that Harrison will keep an advisory role in that company while he starts his new role at Microsoft.

Update - The Verge reports that according to a Microsoft spokesperson, Harrison's hiring has nothing to do with the departure of Molyneux last week, stating that the company will "determine if and when the Microsoft Studios Europe Creative Director vacancy should be filled." However, it does seem clear that Harrison will take over at least some of Molyneux's responsibilities.

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