Two Top Xbox Execs Leaving Microsoft

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Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal ran a story that Microsoft planned to shake-up its entertainment division. That prediction played out quickly with a press release today from Microsoft announcing two significant departures from its Entertainment and Devices division -- the home of both Xbox and Games for Windows.

The changes start at the very top with the retirement of the division's president, Robbie Bach. Bach managed the global launches of both the Xbox and the Xbox 360 and has been a key figurehead for the Microsoft's entertainment efforts addressing both E3 and CES attendees on multiple occasions. Bach graciously thanked Microsoft for his time there and said of his decision to leave now, "I'm at the time in my life where I want to dedicate more time to my family and my nonprofit work, including my work with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. I have the utmost confidence in Steve, Don and Andy and their ability to see through our mission of bringing extraordinary entertainment and mobility experiences to life for people around the world." Though announced today, Bach will remain at the company through the fall to help with the transition.

Also departing is senior vice president of Design and Development for the division, J Allard. Often referred to as the "father of the Xbox" for his role in driving the technical development of Microsoft's console, Allard had been serving in a broader capacity to champion innovations within the company including the recently shelved Courier tablet project. While he is stepping down from the internal position, the announcement states that he will be an official strategic advisor to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. No direct comment from Allard was available but Ballmer said, "we're absolutely delighted that J's role with the company will evolve in a way that lets all of Microsoft benefit from his business insight, technical depth and keen eye for consumer experience."

For the short-term it appears Microsoft plans to handle day-to-day business without much change despite these prominent departures. The announcement confirmed that senior vice president Don Mattrick will continue to run the Interactive Entertainment Business. Mattrick joined the Microsoft family relatively recently, coming over from Electronic Arts in 2007 where he'd held a number of senior positions. He certainly looks to have his hands full as it's just coming up on a year since the head of Xbox Live and Microsoft Game Studios John Schappert left Microsoft last June (ironically to return to EA). Given Mattrick's strong publishing background it will be interesting to see what impact, if any, that has on the future direction of the Xbox and gaming business at Microsoft.

From The Chatty
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    May 25, 2010 11:50 AM

    YES!!!! Michael Stipe is leaving, good riddance don't let the door hit you in the ass J. Now can they bring back Ed Fries? I miss the old school Xbox team back in the days of the big black and green barge box, those were the days, having drunken rednecks scream at you cause you kicked their ass at MechAssault.

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      May 25, 2010 11:55 AM

      You seem to have a pretty emotional connection to the corporate executives of Microsoft.

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        May 25, 2010 12:03 PM

        He just always felt like a smug, gay, wannabe hipster asshole. I havent seen much of him over the past 4 years but ill never forget when the 360 launched you couldnt get rid of his annoying ass. Now if only Reggie Fils Aims would leave Nintendo, his arrogant flame baiting attitude is so very american in a very japanese company. Im ecstatic Nintendo is doing well but every comment he makes I facepalm and I used to think Iwata was the king of stupid comments.

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          May 25, 2010 12:16 PM

          I, too, hate successful and personable executives.

          (also you may be happy to hear that J Allard disappeared because of an internal wife-swapping sort of sex scandal, lol)

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            May 25, 2010 12:26 PM

            Does anyone remember which episode of Idle Thumbs they discussed this on?

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            May 25, 2010 12:29 PM

            Say what? Details man, details.

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              May 25, 2010 1:19 PM

              as schnapple says it was on some episode of idle thumbs

              I forget which one. searching the episode forums for "allard" yields mentions on the forums for episodes 6 and 42 so you can try there!

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                May 25, 2010 1:34 PM

                Someone please listen to those and provide a synopsis.

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                  May 25, 2010 1:49 PM

                  I don't remember all the details but basically the RUMOR is that within Microsoft amongst the employees in the Seattle there was a sex/swingers club. Like, it wasn't an official thing by any means but when you have like 39,000 employees in one company in one area, little cliques like this are bound to show up. As it was stated, everyone from top rank executives to lowly secretaries were involved with this thing. Parties were involved. And the rumor goes on to state that J Allard was involved.

                  Well, at some point Microsoft found out about the club. I think it was alluded to that someone at one of the parties cried sexual harassment which pretty much clued Microsoft in to what was going on and the whole thing was pretty much shut down immediately.

                  I'm not sure what happened to all the employees involved but at the very least this is the rumored reason as to why J Allard went from known figure to sudden obscurity real damn fast.

                  Again, all rumors and hearsay and really it's just how I'm remembering the conversation on the episode so I could have this all wrong.

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                    May 25, 2010 3:56 PM

                    it was a rumor but it sounded like a really reputable/plausible one. IIRC Chris seemed fairly confident of its veracity.

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          May 25, 2010 4:59 PM

          Agreed; Reggie Fils-Aime and Cammie Dunaway are the two most incredibly annoying Nintendo of America public-facing executives. At least Iwata has the redeeming property of being hilarious.

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      May 25, 2010 12:03 PM

      Sorry for the bad news but he's not leaving Microsoft. It just sounds like he got a promotion and is leaving the Entertainment and Devices division for another part of the company as an official strategic advisor to Steve Ballmer. So basically his influence will grow and your hate will remain.

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        May 25, 2010 12:29 PM

        Hates a strong word, nothing he does effects my life so I dont hate him, I just dislike him. Advisor to Ballmer lol, that guys also a jackass, I can understand why MS would have him around (hes a number cruncher) but he doesnt "get" the whole picture.

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      May 25, 2010 2:20 PM

      Dunno what your problem is, Jay had left the XBox team for the Zune since before the 360 launch to the best of my recollection. I do miss Ed Fries a lot though, he was great in the team.

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      May 25, 2010 2:25 PM

      Isn't Michael Stipe the singer from REM? Sorry, someone had to point it out.

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        May 25, 2010 10:40 PM

        I dunno if I'm not getting you right but I think he's referring to J Allard's transformation. I still recall several articles in the past pointing this out. How J Allard went from being a nerd to being replaced by his hipster son. LOL. They were damn funny.

        Still, J Allard and Bach seemed to have done tons of great things for the XBox and Zune, which I have both with a couple of generations of each. Best wishes to them both. Let's hope that some of you are right that this will mean a reinvigorated PC gaming from Microsoft.