Microsoft Promotes Lionhead Chief To Run Xbox, HoloLens


On Tuesday, Microsoft announced it had promoted John Needham to replace Phil Harrison, a senior Xbox executive, who recently quit. Needham had been serving as the head of UK-based Lionhead Studios (owned by Microsoft) up till now.

Needham to oversee development of games

Needham will report to CVP Kudo Tsunoda according to a Microsoft spokesperson. He will be responsible for developing games for both Xbox and Microsoft HoloLens. A few games, such as the Halo, Gears of War, Forza and Minecraft franchises, won’t come under Needham. Teams for these games report directly to Phil Spencer, the overall Xbox chief and Tsunoda superior.

“John Needham relocated to Redmond in a new role overseeing internal development for several games and experiences for both Xbox and Microsoft HoloLens reporting to Kudo,” a Microsoft spokesperson told Gamasutra.

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Previously, Needham held highly responsible positions at several large organizations. He is the former CEO at both Cryptic Studios and Gazillion Entertainment. Needham, who joined Lionhead in 2013, also worked for Sony Online Entertainment in the past.

Microsoft’s arch rival in gaming console, Sony has outgrown Microsoft in terms of sales, and therefore, the Xbox company is working hard to recover from the losses as early as possible. Microsoft has a few task to consider, including plans to expand its presence in PC gaming, and coming up with games complementing its augmented reality glasses the HoloLens.

Microsoft earnings. What to expect?

Separately, Microsoft will report its earnings for the quarter ending March 31, 2015 after Thursday’s closing bell. The tech firm is expected to report earnings per share of 51 cents, compared to 68 cents posted in the same quarter last year. Revenue for the quarter is expected to come in at $21.1 billion compared to $20.4 billion a year ago. Analysts will be closely watching the overall margins as in the fiscal second-quarter gross margin came down to 61.7% from 64.3% in the sequential first quarter and 66.1% a year ago.

Microsoft shares have performed well over the past two years. In 2013, the stock was up 40% and in 2014 it was 24%, but it took a hit after the disappointing second-quarter results in January. Year to date, the stock is down over 9%, compared to a gain of 0.7% for the Dow and 4.8% for the Nasdaq.

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