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Harrison: Xbox London studio 'won't make retail games'

Former Sony exec admits he was "envious" of Xbox Live

Microsoft's new Xbox London development house has been described as a "21st century studio", with new business models such as free-to-play on the agenda.

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Speaking at the London Games Conference this afternoon, the Xbox firm's new corporate VP of interactive entertainment - and ex-Sony exec - Phil Harrison revealed that the studio "will not make retail games."

100 staff will be added across Microsoft's UK studios in the current financial year, he said, with London focusing on hiring from the console and web 2.0 industries.

"We are building a 21st century studio, one that will not make retail games, one that will develop for numerous platforms such as Windows 8, with new business models and new ways to play," Harrison told LGC attendees today.

"We're clearly in an industry that's moving from a retail business model to one that's increasingly digital," he added. "People are talking about digital overtaking retail - signs are moving in that direction."

Harrison, who joined Xbox this year having previously worked at Sony Computer Entertainment for a decade and half, confirmed that free-to-play is one of "many" monetisation models Microsoft is looking at, in addition to "ad networks".

On the subject of digital, Harrison had plenty of praise for Xbox's online platform, noting: "For a large period of the last ten years, I have been very envious of Xbox Live. Now I'm inside I can see what a magical service it is."

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