Ed Fries, the long-time head of Microsoft Game Studios and the person responsible for cementing industry relationships for the company’s Xbox video game console, has resigned, Microsoft said Tuesday.
Fries’ resignation was announced in an e-mail from Robbie Bach, senior vice president of Microsoft’s games division and “Chief Xbox Officer.” Back said Fries was leaving the company after 18 years to pursue other goals.
Shane Kim, chief operating officer for the game studios, will replace Fries until a successor is named.
In the e-mail, Bach said the games division has just had its best holiday on record, boosted by sales of Microsoft Game Studios-published games “Project Gotham Racing 2,” “Crimson Skies” and “Counter-Strike.” (MSNBC is a Microsoft - NBC joint venture.)
Fries, who started with Microsoft as an intern in 1985, joined the game studio in 1995 when Microsoft was a PC game maker years away from a major presence in the console market.
He was credited with overall responsibility for key franchises like the PC titles “Flight Simulator” and “Age of Empires” and the Xbox smash “Halo.”
Fries is the highest-profile Microsoft games executive to leave the company since Seamus Blackley, the co-creator of the Xbox, who resigned in 2002. He later co-founded a game development financing company and currently works at Hollywood talent firm the Creative Artists Agency.