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

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

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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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  • reply
    July 1, 2013 11:00 AM

    John Keefer posted a new article, Rumor: Microsoft's entertainment chief Mattrick leaving for Zynga.

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

    • reply
      July 1, 2013 11:06 AM

      Farmville users will now have to connect to their game every 24 hours

      • reply
        July 1, 2013 11:10 AM

        as if they didn't already?

      • reply
        July 1, 2013 11:17 AM

        It's Zynga. You pretty much have to do that already. And get 20 more friends to press a button for you to progress.

        I think Zynga's business model is played out. The masses have gotten over the initial puppy love phase of their games and just want a regular game where they don't have to either multiple bogus accounts to keep playing or have 200+ strangers linked to their account to get them to send them items to complete something in their game. I think their model is worse than IAP freemium stuff. Wait. I guess it's really the same thing. They just paint it differently.

    • reply
      July 1, 2013 11:11 AM

      I cannot picture a more perfect job for him.

    • reply
      July 1, 2013 11:17 AM

      Through 2009, Zynga made money from lead generation advertising schemes, whereby game participants would earn game points by signing up for featured credit cards or video-rental services. These were criticized as being less cost-effective than simply buying game points, and in some cases, being outright scams that would download unwanted software or unwittingly sign up for a recurring subscription.[77] One ad signed up players for subscriptions to expensive and unwanted text-messaging services.[78]


      Yeah he'll fit right in.

    • reply
      July 1, 2013 11:21 AM

      wtf is this Canada Day or April Fools Day?

    • reply
      July 1, 2013 11:26 AM

      he got x'ed and boned.........x boned

    • reply
      July 1, 2013 11:31 AM

      LOL. From Microsoft to Zynga.

    • reply
      July 1, 2013 11:56 AM

      Wow didn't see this coming so soon but definitely needed since the huge hit xbox took from public perception that it was not for the consumers but profit margin. who will lead now? I'm putting my money on Phil Harrison but don't get your hopes up for infamous Ken Kutaragi or gif dominator Kazuo Hirai.

    • reply
      July 1, 2013 12:01 PM

      J Allard please.

    • reply
      July 1, 2013 12:03 PM

      Heads did roll.

    • reply
      July 1, 2013 12:08 PM

      Put me in coach!

    • reply
      July 1, 2013 12:28 PM

      Wow, with stuff like EA and the Xbox One DRM launch on his resume, this guy should fit right in at Zynga! Welcome aboard, sir! - from Ars.

    • reply
      July 1, 2013 1:15 PM

      And Zynga just confirmed it:

      "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."

    • reply
      July 1, 2013 1:24 PM

      Quick and merciless.

      Enjoy Zynga, ass.

    • reply
      July 1, 2013 1:25 PM

      Eat a dick Truancy Bot.

    • reply
      July 1, 2013 1:26 PM

      Good. Mattrick has always struck me as a bad fit for MS. I hope that they find someone better than him.

    • reply
      July 1, 2013 1:28 PM

      RIP DON

    • reply
      July 1, 2013 1:50 PM

      hahahahahhaha don't let the door hit you on the way out shitbag

    • reply
      July 1, 2013 1:59 PM

      When I just saw that at Kotaku for a second I thought it was a joke. But it's not. bwhahahahha.

    • reply
      July 1, 2013 2:21 PM

      Wow, I had to do a double take at my calendar to make sure it wasn't April. This sounds like a joke. I can't help but wonder with the restructuring going on at MS right now... if he was given a heads up from Ballmer saying basically ".. you might want to look around buddy boy, because when the new structure comes around... you don't have a place in it..."

      That type of stuff happens all time with those high up guys. They hardly ever get fired, they get 'gentle' suggestions to go someplace else.

    • reply
      July 1, 2013 2:23 PM

      This......THIS I do not understand. lol

    • reply
      July 1, 2013 2:24 PM

      Sounds like a real world example of the Peter Principle. At this rate he's going to end up running GE in a few years.

    • reply
      July 1, 2013 2:41 PM

      [deleted]

      • reply
        July 1, 2013 5:00 PM

        "Don’s directs will report to me"

        ...Ballmer's running the Interactive Entertainment business unit now?! Not even a hint at a search for a new VP or an interim leader?

        There we go; throw out all pretense. "TELEVISION! TELEVISION! TELEVISION! TELEVISION! ..."

        • reply
          July 1, 2013 6:54 PM

          Pretty standard while they find a new leader (there's a rumored big re-organization coming too, so maybe it'll literally last a few days).

          • reply
            July 1, 2013 7:08 PM

            That's true; EA has Larry Probst as interim CEO, and Riccitiello resigned back in mid-March, so EA at that time probably didn't have a succession plan (and still haven't announced a new CEO yet; I figured they'd have an announcement ready by E3, or AT E3).

    • Ziz legacy 10 years
      reply
      July 1, 2013 3:18 PM

      Ba Zynga!

    • Ziz legacy 10 years
      reply
      July 1, 2013 3:19 PM

      So they fired his ass?

    • reply
      July 1, 2013 3:21 PM

      They deserve him. LOL

    • reply
      July 1, 2013 4:54 PM

      True story: I did not know what Don Mattrick looked like until Shacknews first posted the article graphic in this article (on May 21st, for the XBox One unveil).

      I had heard the Bombcast talk about looking forward to "Don Mattrick with his floppy head of hair" unveiling Microsoft's next console, but I hadn't been motivated to search on it. Then, I saw the picture of Mattrick with his hand hovering over the newly unveiled "XBox One". I thought, "Wow, that must be the floppy hair. He looks like a dork. He looks a lot like Mark Pincus; maybe they should talk to each other sometime." Coincidentally enough, that's what they were doing, and now Don Mattrick is running the ship that other ex-EA guy John Schappert jumped off of last year: http://www.shacknews.com/article/75211/zynga-coo-john-schappert-resigns

      This is also funny in the context of the effective base-trade that Mattrick and Peter Moore pulled off back in 2007: http://www.shacknews.com/article/47988/peter-moore-leaves-microsoft-to . The executive suite of the gaming industry really is a small world, isn't it?

    • reply
      July 1, 2013 6:46 PM

      One of my favourite Mattrick moments:
      http://www.mobygames.com/game/c64/evolution/screenshots/gameShotId,260901/

      The purchase of this company by EA eventually led to the formation of EA Canada.

    • reply
      July 2, 2013 11:39 AM

      Going from a steady company to what seems to be a declining one.

      Yeah, that makes sense.

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