Harrison says <i>oui</i> to Atari

Recently departed Sony Worldwide Studios chief taking new gig as president and general director of troubled publisher's parent Infogrames.

Phil Harrison must like a challenge. Why else would the executive resign his post as president of Worldwide Studios at Sony--where he had worked for 16 years--just as the PlayStation 3's fortunes seem to be improving? And why then would he take on one of the most unenviable tasks in the game industry: turning around Atari, the once-mighty publisher that has seen itself drown in red ink for the past several years?

Why is this man smiling?

Questions may still linger about Harrison's exit from Sony last week, but rumors of him jumping ship to Atari have now been confirmed. Today, Atari's parent company Infogrames SA announced that the executive has signed on to be its president and director general, effective immediately. He will report to David Gardner, Infogrames' recently installed CEO.

"I am pleased to welcome Phil to Infogrames," Gardner said in a statement. "He has an outstanding reputation in the industry, as one of the key leaders behind the success of PlayStation. We have been seeking an opportunity to work together for some time and I am certain he will be able to make a significant contribution to [Atari's] publishing strategy."

Indeed, Harrison's main duties at Infogrames will be to "lead group publishing and game development into the network era." Harrison's task may prove a Sisyphean one: In mid-February, the French company's New York-based Atari subsidiary reported it lost $300,000 on a 13 percent revenue slide during the quarter ended December 31, 2007. The lackluster report came three months after Atari--which is facing delisting on the Nasdaq exchange--itself said it has "substantial doubt about [its] ability to continue as a going concern."

For his part, Harrison is unfazed by Atari's woes. "This is the perfect time to join Infogrames and help shape the future of Atari, one of the industry's legendary brands," he professed in a statement. "As the game business moves rapidly online, I believe we have an outstanding opportunity to create amazing network game and community experiences for players the world over."

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Discussion

216 comments
neonblueshadow
neonblueshadow

I've had respect for him, and now I have a lot more respect. He still wants to make waves, looking at a sinking ship as an opportunity is risky, but also awesome if you can re-float it.

Fewsness
Fewsness

This 3 guys (Gardner, Harrison and Wilson) aren t there for money. They have strong passion for the atari brand and they know the great potentiel of this factory to revolution the world video game market.

Maveus
Maveus

I can see him pulling Atari through to become a decent developer again, best of luck, Phil.

jsc_tidus
jsc_tidus

whats wrong with this guy.. dude, sony needs ya much more.. why goes to atari? let me guess, higher salary?

Carlito911
Carlito911

Let's see what he can do with Atari!

zombey1333
zombey1333

Good luck with this one, yo. You'll need it.

LindBergh2007
LindBergh2007

Drand,I like everyone here remembers Atari and will never fogret the mark on history they've left. I still wouldn't mind playing a Lynx handheld or wouldn't mind playing a 2600 VCS again(Which I haven't played in 11 years.) But fact of the matter is that they're gone and all that's left is Infogrames who COULD make a great game if they tried. It's too bad there gone, I also miss Coleco and Mattel Electronics. But SEGA is the only surviving former console maker that IS still very much alive today henceforth they have a better chance at ever returning to the console market.

valdarez
valdarez

If you're a developer who dislikes maintenance work, and only wants to create new products, then you've found the right place! Join Atari and help create games that are incomplete, bug ridden, and have no support. In fact, when you come to work for Atari, you'll never have to worry about finishing a product, fixing a bug, or taking the blame for anything wrong with the game ever again! Why? Because we want to be the biggest (not best) and model our business after the most excellent example set forth from EA. :)

GreyblutDBM
GreyblutDBM

Its very likely that the publicity alone derived from this move will be to the benefit of Atari. Mr. Harrison has a point with it being an industry brand name, all these years- and stirring the kettle in this manner has at least bought my interest in the wellfare of Atari for the remainder of this fiscal year...

V-Nine
V-Nine

...Atari has the most extra lives I've ever seen.....

JackfnBurton
JackfnBurton

You can second guess his decision - and it IS easy to second guess a decision you weren't involved in - but when you think about it, it IS only the sinking ships that need saving. Sony will be fine without him, but his new employer represents the sort of challenge that truly ambitious execs love. If he fails, everyone will call it inevitable and like most execs at his level, he'll land on his feet somewhere else. But if he succeeds, he becomes a legend and will be in an excellent position to wield considerable personal influence and restore much needed credibility to a once respected publisher. Looking at his career so far it seems like a challenge that was hard to resist.

enoslives7
enoslives7

I hope Atari brings out a new system thats bw compatible with the 2600.

Dreski83
Dreski83

poor Harrison... I'd be shocked if he could fumble anything special with Infogrames or Atari in the next few years :|

SavoyPrime
SavoyPrime

I hope things work out for Phil. He was pretty good with Sony, so he certainly has the potential to turn Atari around.

Tyaj
Tyaj

I've never heard about this guy until the press conferences...... he's a good speaker though and really stands out from the other boring speakers out there.

stillereize
stillereize

The guy has all the money in the world that one man needs and for some reason he found a lost puppy and took some time off work to nurse it back to health. PS3 is fine. It doesn't matter who you have running Sony because the crappy defective Xbox 360's (3 coffins myself) sells Playstation3's on its own. Now that HD DVD is DEAD! and Blu-Ray is the clear winner, all this man has chosen to do is climb a different mountain. Give the guy a break. Maybe some pro-bono work over at Atari might salvage that wreck, because face it, The Witcher stunk. I mean who re-releases the same game months after its first arrival and rename it because the second title actually contains the finished game? Things like that won't happen with Phil. As for Sony, every time a 360 dies a Playstation3 is born. Im a born-again Playstationier myself. Bought a new Plasma to celebrate my divorce with microsoft. Im sure loving my 50" plasma. And Blu Ray has given me new reason to watch movies. As for the games, well, you got me there, but they're coming. Sooner or later they show up. Oblivion, GTA, Guitar Hero, etc. Halo3 was so boring, it was insulting. So for overall entertainment and PEACE of MIND, Playstation3 with or without Phil makes me one happy gamer. I'm not so much a Sony fanboy but Microsoft and their "I'm sorry" customer approach for the past two years made me a Microsoft hater. So I guess I'm a Sony fanboy by default. Happy red rings of death.

Timstuff
Timstuff

Harrison pulled the PS3 out of the toilet after a poor launch, so hopefully he can do the same for Atari.

runstalker
runstalker

I really hope Phil can turn Atari, the pioneering old-school game publisher, around again. Heh, just kidding. There's nothing "old-school" or "pioneering" about this Atari. It's just a bought name. A facade purchased by a faltering French company. Infogrames has squandered the "Atari" brand since buying it. I will give props to them for a few smart decisions like Indigo Prophecy, Test Drive Unlimited, NWN 2, and The Witcher, but for the most part it's been a comedy of errors at new-school Atari for years and years, leaning on their DBZ license like a crutch. Phil, by the gods, fix Infogrames!

IKKF
IKKF

I love how everyone mocked this rumor, and now he's actually at Atari. If the reason he left Sony was pay, I'm pretty sure that Atari won't do any better. I guess Phil knows best, but why the hell is he working at Atari?

jknight5422
jknight5422

I think it's obvious he saw the writing on the wall for the piece of crap that is the PS3. Future-proof schmoof.

K-Grogg
K-Grogg

Well there's what the new challenge we were all wondering about turned out to be. I really hope he can do what he'll be trying to with Atari, it was such an amazing company not so long ago, I'd love to see it re-surface as another of the world's leaders in gaming again.

comthitnuong
comthitnuong

Atari could use a new direction in its management. They haven't sent out a good game in a really long time. Though I'm not sure what he can do with the company, it will be interesting to see how this unfolds.

Agreb91
Agreb91

I don't think anyone saw that one coming.

MetalMan300
MetalMan300

@acecometh Ive got to say that Phil joining atari wont make it worse since atari is already dying fast. I love atari, but they hasn't had a big hit in years, so maybe he can help them out.

mracoon
mracoon

Why would you leave Sony for Atari!!!???

marcusboonis
marcusboonis

Shame. Never again will we hear him plug "motorstorm"

SemiMaster
SemiMaster

after Kutaragi left, Sony has been climbing back up. Thanks to this man. Why'd he leave? I liked him. Good luck working miracles a second time there.

peeweeshift
peeweeshift

atari last great game of new ip was a motorcycle game on gamecube. it was underappreciated and the selling point was a demo. Its sad since it was a great underappreciated game. heck even i forgot the name of the title

quietguy
quietguy

I wonder where you pricks below me keep getting your outlandish sources from. PS3 sinking? Go back to the charts and look it again for 5 minutes. You all make it sound like that Harrison was solely responsible for the failures of the PS3, when it's actually a company-wide problem, not a friggin' gibberish of market nonsense. And you have the concepts backwards, Atari's the Titanic & Sony's the "oil tanker". If the guy wants to jump ship, the least he can do before leaving Atari in the later future is bring it back to a developer of some competency if not great.

Jedi_Lord77
Jedi_Lord77

I've lost respect for Phil.....well actually even before this.

c_rakestraw
c_rakestraw moderator moderator

A bit of an odd decision, but I wish him the best. I hope he succeeds.

planetpib
planetpib

even tho i am a 360/PC guy, i wish the best for this guy, looks like he can use all the help he can get.

tryfe_lyn
tryfe_lyn

bmanva...Sony is not a sinking titanic...he probably saw that things were picking up and decided he wanted to take on another challenge...if anything is sinking it's M$ with their defective hardware

bmanva
bmanva

You wanna know why he jumped ships? It's easier to repair a sinking dinghy like Atari than a sinking titanic like Sony PS3.

Skreb-Masters
Skreb-Masters

Cool. I doubt he'll single-handedly turn around Atari's financial woes, but he should be a good team player for the company.

snakeyes101
snakeyes101

He was never a good public speaker anyway, but i wish him all the best. At last he didnt defect to microsoft...

IsmirZone
IsmirZone

This is good news? Would now Sony get more Atari games to the PS3 or exclusives? Will we see some returns of dead Atari games? Will they make V-Rally 4? Time will tell. At least bring back Test Drive from it's destruction.

Pastehunter
Pastehunter

Lets hope the best for both Phil and Atari ... they both deserve it :)

Banga5pop
Banga5pop

who knows maybe phill will turn ataria around lol

rome_tx
rome_tx

Talk about unexpected.

lowkey254
lowkey254

Let's see if he can make a turn around. I would like to see atari make a comeback.

AceCometh
AceCometh

Harrison at Atari? We can go ahead and kiss that company goodbye right now.

Petri87
Petri87

@citizenzero - Dude are you seriouse? If so then that meens that EA Sports will only make 360 games from now on. I dont really think that Harrison will give the PS3 more attention over the 360 or the Wii most likely because they are far ahead in sales and for him to do something like that when Atari is already in trouble would just mean that he will be out of a job pretty soon. All three consoles will get the same amount of games in the furture as they are now. There will be no exclusives from Atari for the 360 or the PS3 since they need to put games on everything now just to make money.

imortiferus
imortiferus

citizenzero, it is highly unlikely that this will result in a Sony partnership. Phil left Sony abruptly and on bad terms.

citizenzero
citizenzero

This is quite obvious, Atari and Sony will most likely work together closer as partners, and no i don't think he's leaving Sony entirely. People like that create partnerships not enemies which means more cashy expect loads of new titles for ps3!

rawlu
rawlu

WOW!?,I knew sony game studios was in bad shape but OMG!?,nothing like from the frying pan into the fire Phil! LOL!.

vnc20100
vnc20100

After thinking it trough, I think the guy wanted new challenges. People like CEOs need challenges in life otherwise it gets boring. He wanted to go in a new direction and work with all consoles not just the PS3. That's my thought