NEWS - Sunday, January 19, 2003

Duncan leaves Xbox team

The effusive head of Microsoft’s Xbox division in Europe, Sandy Duncan, has announced his intention to retire from the games industry this year in order to focus on his personal life. Duncan has headed up the European Xbox and Home Retail divisions since early 2000, and has been with Microsoft for 16 years. He will continue to work with the Xbox team until this summer, when he will be replaced by Eduardo Rosini, formerly the Argentinian general manager of Microsoft and latterly a key figure in the Xbox operations in the USA. Duncan has become one of the best-known faces in the games industry in Europe thanks to his relentless enthusiasm for Xbox, and he has injected the campaign to establish the console in the market with a significant dose of his own extrovert personality - winning over crowds at trade events as readily as journalists in interviews with his ready humour, open personality and passion for the console and its software. His departure comes as Microsoft announces that Xbox revenues at the company have jumped significantly in the past quarter, ended December 31, with $1.3 billion of revenues recorded in the Home and Entertainment division (of which the Xbox is a major part), compared to $960 million in the same period last year. However, despite the stronger performance of the console this year, Microsoft controller Scott Boggs mentioned that Xbox hardware sales were at the lower end of the company’s predicted range - and chief financial officer John Connors has cautioned that revenues in the next quarter for the company as a whole may be lower than expected, citing a "softer world videogame market" along with poor performance of MSN’s subscription services as key reasons. Sandy Duncan’s departure from Microsoft is one of several high-profile departures and job movements which are expected to be announced in the European games industry over the coming weeks - with one commentator this week aptly describing the current situation at the top of the industry as "musical chairs".


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