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Microsoft entertainment chief Don Mattrick resigns, becomes CEO at Zynga [Update]

by John Keefer, Jul 01, 2013 1:15pm PDT
Related Topics – Microsoft, Zynga, Xbox One

Update: Zynga has officially confirmed Mattrick as its new CEO.

Microsoft's head of interactive entertainment Don Mattrick, who has been in the spotlight with the recent Xbox One reveal and subsequent policy changes, is leaving the company to take a similarly high profile job at Zynga.

All Things D cites several sources saying that Mattrick will be joining Zynga. Update: Effective July 8th, Mattrick will be CEO of the online social gaming company.

"Don is unique in the game business," said Zynga founder Mark Pincus in a press release. "He turned Xbox into the world's largest console-gaming network, growing its installed base from 10 to 80 million and transformed that business from deep losses to substantial profits. And he has grown the Xbox Live player network from 6 to 50 million active members in 41 countries." Pincus will remain at Zynga as CPO.

"In its short history, Zynga has redefined entertainment and brought social gaming to the mainstream. More than 1 billion people across web and mobile have installed Zynga games, and franchises like FarmVille and Words With Friends have become a part of people's daily lives," said Mattrick. "I joined Zynga because I believe that Mark's pioneering vision and mission to connect the world through games is just getting started. Zynga is a great business that has yet to realize its full potential. I'm proud to partner with Mark to deliver high-quality, fun, social games wherever people want to play."

The public relations hit Microsoft took with its Xbox One DRM policy could very well be the final straw for Mattrick. Of course, he did leave himself open for criticism with his view on the Xbox One's backward compatibility--saying that strategy is "backward"--and with the comment that players that had no internet for an Xbox One could always use an Xbox 360 instead.

According to superannuation, rumors of Mattrick's departure have been around for months, and sources have said that talks with Zynga have been ongoing for awhile. But after Sony beat Microsoft over the head with its Xbox One policies at E3, forcing the company to backtrack, it is likely that Mattrick could see this as the best time to leave.

The move to Zynga reunites Mattrick with with former EA partner and friend Bing Gordon, and would be a major coup for the company as it struggles with a poor share price, lawsuits, shuttered offices and a hemorrhaging of key executives.

Microsoft has already been considering some internal restructuring, and CEO Steve Ballmer has been taking quite a bit of flak for missteps with Microsoft as a whole.

Regarding Mattrick's departure from the company, Xbox chief of staff Aaron Greenberg tweeted: "Sad to see Don Mattrick leave the team, we accomplished a lot past 6 years."




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