The CEO of Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment business, Don Mattrick, officially left his position on July 8, 2013 to become the new CEO of Zynga. He joined Microsoft in 2007 after leaving Electronic Arts, the company that acquired Distinctive Software, which was founded by Mattrick when he was just 17 years old.
Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment business is their Xbox video game division which, until Mattrick took over, was experiencing little growth. Xbox live, a subscription service that allows gamers to play online with millions of other gamers, had a mere 6 million members until Mattrick grew that number to 46 million. The console itself grew from 10 million users to over 80 million in just two short years under his supervision. His sudden decision to leave Microsoft’s Xbox division has dealt a huge blow to the team and left many people wondering why.
The Xbox One Reveal
Microsoft is currently in the process of launching its newest console, which it has entitled Xbox One. Mattrick is credited with expanding the vision of the new console from simply video gaming into a hub of entertainment that allows the user to experience their favorite games, television shows, movies, and music in a whole new way.
This has moved Xbox to the forefront of the console industry, making it that much more competitive and increasing its appeal to a wider range of users, not just gamers. The new console will take center stage when it’s set to be launched this holiday season.
Mattrick personally introduced the new console during its reveal at Microsoft’s campus in May 2013, which did not go as well as Microsoft had planned. Gamers weren’t happy with the changes the company made to their DRM (digital rights management). However, Microsoft promptly reversed these changes.
Possible Reasons for Departure
There is much speculation as to why Mattrick decided to leave Microsoft. Rumors suggest Microsoft may be set to undergo another massive restructuring, which could be one of the reasons for the departure.
Yet another rumor suggests that he might have left because of the failure of the Xbox One reveal and the new changes Microsoft had made. Not only were gamers unhappy with the changes to the Xbox DRM, but the 24 hour high speed internet connection the Xbox One would require to play disc-based and downloadable games also flopped with the community. Xbox lost quite a bit of popularity to Sony and its Playstation 4 because of these changes, which was quite an embarrassment for Microsoft.
Mattrick states his reason for leaving is because of Zynga’s current struggle to break into the mobile world since its web and Facebook presence is currently waning. Zynga has laid off 520 employees (around 18% of their staff) and closed several offices outside of its San Francisco headquarters. Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment business was also having similar problems when Mattrick joined the company.
It has been suggested that Mattrick took the CEO position in an effort to return to the San Francisco bay area since he does own a home there. Despite these rumors, no official reason for his departure from Microsoft has been released at the time of writing.