Speaking at today’s London Games Conference, Phil Harrison, corporate Vice President at Microsoft EMEA, has admitted that over the past decade, which includes his tenure at Sony, he often envied those involved with Xbox Live.
He revealed his feelings during the keynote at the event, in a presentation titled ‘Building the Future of Entertainment’.
"For a large period of the last ten years I’ve been very envious of Xbox Live," confessed the former president of Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios, who has to date been with Microsoft for some six months. "It’s a great way of creating engagement with players."
While Sony’s PlayStation Network is increasingly successful, it has never managed to trump Microsoft’s online gaming service Xbox Live, which currently sees up to 442 million hours of entertainment consumed in a single week.
Harrison also devoted much of his time on stage to Microsoft’s relationship with its fist-party games development studios, revealing that in overseeing both Rare and Lionhead, he: "feels like I’m guarding two of the crown jewels of UK games development."
He also detailed the company’s plan for the newly opened ‘New London Studio’, which remains yet to be granted a publicly official name and logo.
"We are trying to build a studio that we like to think of as a 21st century studio," offered Harrison, before revealing that the outfit will not make games for retail, instead focusing on models like free-to-play and mobile.
"We are hiring some incredibly smart people from three industries; the console industry, the web 2.0 industry, and the online gaming industry," Harrison said of the ongoing recruitment drive underway to fill New London Studio. "I’m really looking forward to seeing those people collide together.
"And we would like to partner with more studios. We think there is more talent to be found. We would love to hear from new studios that are just starting up, so please do get in touch."
He also revealed that Microsoft Studios will hire more than 100 employees in the UK alone during the current financial year
Other details that emerged during Harrison’s keynote included the fact that Microsoft still sees console as delivering better average revenue per user than any other gaming platforms, and Harrison’s belief that advertising models may be just as important to games as free-to-play magnetisation models.`
"Free-to-play is just one of many monetisation architectures that we would choose to use," said Harrison of New London Studio’s plans. "We think that Free-to-play is a great way to attract people to your products and encourage people to come to your platforms, but we also believe that advertising is also a powerful model."