Following the pretty dire reveal of the Xbox One back in May, and its controversial E3 showing a few weeks later, Don Mattrick could be described as one of the most hated figures in the video games industry. Besides all the Xbox One DRM measures and Kinect functionality coming from a boardroom full of Microsoft employees, it seems that Don was the guy to take most of the flack from gamers, mainly because he was the guy who had to take to the stage to announce these policies. A few badly worded comments later and after the ‘Xbox 180’ U-turn, Mattrick’s name was pretty much tarnished.
It either seems like Don Mattrick himself agreed, or else he has been given an offer he can’t refuse, as an official announcement has been made confirming he has now left Microsoft and taken up a post as CEO of Zynga, famous amongst other things for their Facebook games. Yes, you heard that right.
“Don is unique in the game business,” Zynga founder Mark Pincus said in a press release. “He can execute in multiple domains — hardware, software, and network.” Don himself said that; “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.”
Regardless of the reasons for Mattrick’s move – this is disastrous for Microsoft and for Xbox. To have the figurehead of a department leave just months before the release of that division’s most ambitious project ever reflects badly on the whole Xbox team. Questions surely will be raised regarding just how invested Don Mattrick was with the success of the Xbox One, and also who will now lead the launch of the console. This kind of thing has happened before, with Phil Harrison’s defection from Sony to Microsoft (will he now head up the Xbox One launch?), but he didn’t have such a senior position, and didn’t seem to be giving the impression of leaving a sinking ship so close to the release of a new console. More news as we get it.