Xbox head Don Mattrick to depart Microsoft, headed to Zynga?

Don Mattrick, the current head of Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment division that includes its Xbox business, is rumored to be departing the company, according to a story at AllThingsD.com today. The story also claims Mattrick could get a new job at the troubled game developer and publisher Zynga, possibly as its new CEO.

The story, which uses unnamed sources, claims that the official announcement could come later this afternoon. The article also claims that this move is not related to the upcoming and rumored executive restructuring at Microsoft that is being pushed by CEO Steve Ballmer. In fact, the story says that Mattrick has been in talks with Zynga to join the company for some time; Microsoft and Zynga did not issue a comment on this article.

The rumor on Mattrick's departure as head of Microsoft's Xbox business comes just a few weeks after the company took some hits from hardcore gamers over the features of the Xbox One. In particular, many gamers did not like the requirement to sign onto the Internet at least once every 24 hours for playing games for the upcoming console, nor did they care for the restrictions that Microsoft was planning to put into selling, renting or trading used Xbox Game discs.

Mattrick himself took some heat when, in an interview conducted during E3 2013 in June, he said that gamers who wanted a console that didn't require an Internet connection should get the nearly eight year old Xbox 360 rather than the Xbox One. A week after E3, Mattrick announced that Microsoft was reversing course and would not require an Internet connection every 24 hours for the Xbox One, and lifted all restrictions on used Xbox One game discs.

Source: AllThingsD.com | Image via Microsoft

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43 Comments

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i am not one to symphatize on microsoft for losing one of their own. but this idiot has to be making the worst career move ever recorded. zynga. really.

WinMunkee said,
Good, MS needs a new face for the Xbox Division, this guy is uninspiring.

Indeed. Preferably someone that knows something about gaming...

From head of Microsoft's Xbox division to....Zynga? Why didn't they just make him a bag boy at Wal-Mart.

Future interview:

Reporter: What do you say to all the Farmville fans upset about the upcoming changes?

Don Mattrick: We here at Zynga understand their frustration, but if they don't want to play the new features we have another solution for them called gardening.

Good. His comment was one of the most stupid and arrogant things coming from Microsoft the last few years. The sheer idiocy of it! I know it was supposed to be a joke but the online check was a huge issue and a lot of X360 owners were reconsidering their console choice. It's hard to translate his comment to financial lose but its not hard to imagine that his comment helped a lot of people to choose Sony.

With that in mind it could be possible his name made it to Ballmer's company transformation kill-list. Which makes his choice to join a sinking ship more understandable. Better a sinking ship then no ship at all.

Spicoli said,
The sheer idiocy of saying what the product is designed for? Do you complain Roku requires an Internet connection too?

You know that PR, External relations, etc.. etc., departments exist exactly to craft how messages are delivered to the audience minimizing negatives and highlighting positives aspects, don' t you?

Good. Hope hes been pushed out with Microsoft recognising he is the problem. The guy is nothing more than a smary salesman. Hopefully someone with an actual passion for gaming comes in like Allard.

the better twin said,
Good. Hope hes been pushed out with Microsoft recognising he is the problem. The guy is nothing more than a smary salesman. Hopefully someone with an actual passion for gaming comes in like Allard.

Makes the Microsoft entertainment division profitable by turning 10 million Xbox subscribers into 76 million, brings Kinect to life, named one of "Smartest People in Tech 2011", CNN's "top 10 brilliant technology visionaries", gives us the Xbox One => "nothing more than a smary salesman".

He may have been a "salesman", but the Xbox business would likely not have existed like today without him.

Northgrove said,

He may have been a "salesman", but the Xbox business would likely not have existed like today without him.

Dude, 360 came out in '05 and has been on fire in the US ever since. Not to diminish the guy, but xbox was on its way up before him. And you have to admit, some of the decisions with X1 were head scratchers.

MikeInBA said,

Dude, 360 came out in '05 and has been on fire in the US ever since. Not to diminish the guy, but xbox was on its way up before him. And you have to admit, some of the decisions with X1 were head scratchers.


No, they are excellent. The bad part was how they explained it.

the better twin said,
Good. Hope hes been pushed out with Microsoft recognising he is the problem. The guy is nothing more than a smary salesman. Hopefully someone with an actual passion for gaming comes in like Allard.

Agreed. Not to mention the guy has the sense of a door knob...

Northgrove said,

He may have been a "salesman", but the Xbox business would likely not have existed like today without him.

What? He took over in 2007. Do you honestly think it would have tanked without him? What made the X360 work was its value proposition. The innitial offer: a nextgen system at an affordable price. Other people build that before he joined up.

The Xbone is more his baby. And Microsoft screwed that up. It's hard to imagine a worse start. So if you want to make the executive personally responsible for the succes and failures, then the Xbone is his failure.

Crimson Rain said,

No, they are excellent. The bad part was how they explained it.

While I can agree with you in a lot of ways, it wasn't completely that they didn't explain it well, they also didn't KNOW the answers... And to be quite honest, there should have been the ability to play the games without the online requirement (Using the disc as an authenticator when the internet was not available for instance). Particularly when such a large chunk of their market was deployed military. THAT was poor planning.

So, while some of the features were very nice, there were some head scratchers there as well. More so from the standpoint that you wonder'd how they didn't think about any of the issues this introduced.

Crimson Rain said,

No, they are excellent. The bad part was how they explained it.

You forgot "IMO". Objectively speaking those decisions were "controversial" to put it mildly.

Crimson Rain said,
No, they are excellent. The bad part was how they explained it.
Yeah, but that's on him. Microsoft made a PR nightmare by knowing that they had a negatively receptive idea--DRM-based gaming--with a very high payoff (Xbox Family and play-anywhere with your account).

Personally, I had no problem with the DRM, but I believe that I understood their end position fairly well. Even with that, the comment about buying a 360 in lieu of an Xbox One is just ridiculous. He should have said, "we are always looking at ways to improve the Xbox One experience, and we will continue to look into ways to enable the Xbox One for people that have limited or no connectivity." Weasel wording? Absolutely. But it's a lot better than suggesting, "we don't need or want you."

As M_Lyons pointed out: it seemed like they did not plan for any of the fallout. I honestly believe that they could have easily handled it if they just gave demonstrations. Two Xbox Ones with one having the game shared by walking across the stage. Another Xbox One with the game installed already to be played by a different account. Yet another Xbox One using the family share feature, which would have been killer for my brothers and I (as we live in different cities and share single player games infrequently because we're so far apart; I am hopeful that they keep that around for digital copies, or reintroduce it for them in the future). Beyond that, they seemed to avoid answering questions, or they gave downright bad, limited answers.

No one read the PR blurbs released on xbox.com except fans, like the one trying to explain the above examples (in more abstract terms, at that). And by then, the newspapers and magazines had already ripped MS to shreds over their bad answers.

M_Lyons10 said,

While I can agree with you in a lot of ways, it wasn't completely that they didn't explain it well, they also didn't KNOW the answers... And to be quite honest, there should have been the ability to play the games without the online requirement (Using the disc as an authenticator when the internet was not available for instance). Particularly when such a large chunk of their market was deployed military. THAT was poor planning.

So, while some of the features were very nice, there were some head scratchers there as well. More so from the standpoint that you wonder'd how they didn't think about any of the issues this introduced.


Disc auth does not work along with sharing. You can then play same game simultaneously in 100 xbox. It will only work if installing game required internet check. Then morons would be protesting about that.

timster said,
with all the money he's made, he might have given some thought to fixing his teeth.

"fix" what? If it doesn't bother him why does it bother you? People are so superfluous and superficial nowadays its getting ridiculous. How about you worry about paycheck and how much you have in your wallet instead of how you look lol.

Isn't this the guy who say "We have a product for people who don't have the internet, it's called the Xbox 360"? If it's so, good riddance. Regardless of how innovative the Xbox One could be, that's not the way to talk to customers.

I didn't think it was that bad. Before the change, he made it clear that the people without internet are not to be the target audience of xbox one. You agree to use the product if you have internet. This agreement is set forth when you purchase the product and you accept that this product will not be able to be used if internet is not available when you purchase the product.

When he was asked "How about people without internet?", he provided a product in which it's target audience includes such people.

This was Microsoft's stance. And those who felt excluded thought it was in their right to tell who a company should include or not include in their target audience through boycotting and placing negativity out of proportion. I guess downsizing a target audience from the previous generation is never a good move. People seem to only accept it if the previous generation did not exist or was not popular.

CanonCygnus said,
Isn't this the guy who say "We have a product for people who don't have the internet, it's called the Xbox 360"? If it's so, good riddance. Regardless of how innovative the Xbox One could be, that's not the way to talk to customers.

Better then telling your customers to get 2 jobs to buy their console like Sony.

leoberto said,
That would suck

For him. Zynga isn't doing so well. I'm not sure why anyone would want to join a sinking ship. If he can turn it around, he'd surely be a hot executive, though -- so maybe that's what he's hoping.