Microsoft announced today that former Sony Computer Entertainment and Atari bigwig Phil Harrison has joined the software titan as the corporate vice president of its European Interactive Entertainment Business (IEB). Harrison will be tasked with overseeing the entirety of the Microsoft Studios European division as well as running the war room for the rest of IEB.

“I am excited to be joining the senior team at Microsoft at a pivotal time for our industry,” Harrison said of his move. “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.”

Harrison will be the top man presiding over operations at UK-based developers Lionhead Studios, Soho Productions and Rare Ltd. Contrary to rumors that ran rampant across news outlets and social media sites earlier in the day, however, Harrison will not be replacing former Microsoft Studios Creative Director Peter Molyneux in the ex-Lionhead Studios boss’ recently-vacated position. Microsoft’s Major Nelson explained that “Phil’s role on the IEB leadership team is completely unrelated to Peter’s departure.”

A public relations spokesperson within the company went a bit further in clearing the air when speaking with Games Industry International. “We will continue to rely on our stable of first party developers as we determine if and when the Microsoft Studios Europe creative director vacancy should be filled,” the representative said. “Peter’s previous role as Lionhead studio manager is being filled by Lionhead COO Mark Webley.”

Phil Spencer, corporate vice president at Microsoft Studios, spoke highly of the man who became a famous within industry circles for championing the competing PlayStation brand. “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,” said Spencer. “Under his leadership, we look forward to continuing cultivating the best talent and growing our business in the region.”

“Phil has played an instrumental role in shaping modern console history through his keen insights into both hardware and software strategy,” added Interactive Entertainment Business President Don Mattrick. “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.”

Sources: Major Nelson and Games Industry International