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Phil Harrison to leave Microsoft

Microsoft refuses to comment as figurehead departs

Executive Phil Harrison is leaving Microsoft, GamesIndustry.biz has learned through multiple sources at GDC, though Microsoft has so far refused to confirm his departure.

"I don't, no. I'm sorry, I don't think I can say anything about that," Xbox boss Phil Spencer told Eurogamer when asked today at GDC. Chris Charla, director of ID@Xbox also refused to comment - with a Microsoft spokesperson stepping in to say Charla wasn't the person to ask about staffing issues, and that the company does not comment on rumour or speculation.

The news comes in tandem with the proposed merger of Lift London, which Harrison was instrumental in founding, with Microsoft's multimedia-focused Soho Productions. Several redundancies are understood to have taken place as part of that move.

Harrison joined Microsoft in 2012 as VP of the Interactive Entertainment Business and EMEA head of games, having previously held a senior role at Sony and founding London Venture Partners in the interim. He was hired by then head of the Xbox business, Don Mattrick, who it's understood had a long standing friendship and mutual respect with Harrison.

"I am excited to be joining the senior team at Microsoft at a pivotal time for our industry," said Harrison when he was hired back in 2012. "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," added Phil Spencer at the time. "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."

However, GamesIndustry.biz understands that Harrison grew frustrated when Mattrick's departure and Spencer's subsequent promotion did not result in him moving up the corporate ladder and decided to move on.

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Dan Pearson