Phil Harrison Talks About Different Pressure Between Sony & Microsoft, Believes Amazon Could Be “Disruptive” in Gaming


Former Sony and Microsoft executive Phil Harrison is always an interesting read when interviewed. Last week, we reported him saying that Microsoft and Sony are possibly not broadening the audience of gamers, unlike Nintendo with the Switch console.

Speaking with VentureBeat, he now weighed in on the differences inside the two giant corporations, mentioning that Sony is more focused on gaming while Microsoft has a large balance sheet, leading to a different kind of pressure.

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They all have tremendous positives and some small challenges. If Microsoft’s Xbox business was a stand-alone business, only focused on games, that would be an incredible business. When you look at it as a part of Microsoft spitting out $20 billion in free cash flow every year, it just shows up as a tiny little dot, which is always a deep frustration for the leadership in the Xbox business. They do an incredible job, but they don’t show up that often on the scorecard.

It’s a different pressure that Sony has. They have a much smaller balance sheet. They’re a much more focused company through necessity, through the challenges they’ve been through, which have been public over the last 10 years or so. It’s a good question. Which would you rather be: a focused company with a smaller balance sheet or an unfocused company with a very large balance sheet?

Harrison then proceeded to say that Amazon could be a disruptive force in the games industry due to his strong balance sheet.

Ultimately a strong balance sheet is a good thing to have, which is why a company like Amazon could end up being a disruptive force in games. They have AWS as this secret provider of incredible services to so many games companies, which they’re monetizing like crazy.

I think Amazon knows they have a games business. It’s interesting that the games bit of Amazon reports in to the AWS leadership. That’s not a surprise or an accident. That’s very purposeful.

It's hard to argue with that, really. For a long time, rumors swirled about Amazon building a console but in truth, they were going the opposite way. After assembling Amazon Game Studios, they announced three PC games at TwitchCon 2016: Breakaway, New World, and Crucible.

It'll be interesting to see the progress of these titles (which are all tightly integrated into Amazon's ecosystem between AWS, Twitch and the Lumberyard engine) at TwitchCon 2017, due between October 20th and 22nd.