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Microsoft confirms Phil Harrison's departure

Samit Sarkar (he/him) is Polygon’s deputy managing editor. He has more than 15 years of experience covering video games, movies, television, and technology.

Xbox executive Phil Harrison has left Microsoft, a representative for the company confirmed to Polygon today.

"Following a successful tenure as Corporate Vice President in Xbox in Europe, Phil Harrison has chosen to pursue business interests outside of Microsoft," said Phil Spencer, Head of Xbox, in a statement provided to Polygon.

"Phil has been a distinguished leader for our European Xbox team — overseeing production at our award-winning European studios and making a substantial contribution to the Xbox business globally," Spencer continued. "I want to thank Phil for his creativity and leadership over the past three years. Phil is a great friend of mine and I wish him the very best with his future endeavours."

Spencer also publicly wished Harrison well on Twitter, saying, "Great time working together @MrPhilHarrison and good luck on the next chapter. You are a true professional."

Citing multiple sources at the 2015 Game Developers Conference, GamesIndustry International reported in early March that Harrison was leaving Microsoft. The company declined comment at the time.

Harrison, a veteran of the game industry, joined Microsoft in March 2012 as corporate vice president in Europe, a position he held from then until his departure. Prior to his stint at Microsoft, Harrison served as president and board member at Atari, following a tenure of more than 15 years as an executive at Sony Computer Entertainment from 1992 to 2008.

Microsoft's original announcement of Harrison's hiring mentioned that he would bring his expertise in the mobile and social gaming markets to bear at Microsoft, and grow the company's development efforts in Europe.

To that end, Harrison launched a new London-based studio called Lift London in January 2013. Microsoft built the company to focus on "connected entertainment services" as opposed to traditional packaged games. However, Microsoft closed Lift London in early March and folded the studio into the London-based Soho Productions team, which developed Kinect Sesame Street TV.

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