Zynga hires Microsoft's Xbox Music leader to manage its studios

Microsoft will soon be losing its Xbox Music leader, Alex Garden, as he will be leaving the company to help manage game publisher Zynga's various development studios. That was just part of the executive changes announced by Zynga today, which included word of a smaller role for its founder Mark Pincus.

Today's announcement states that Pincus, who gave up his CEO role so that former Microsoft Xbox leader Don Mattrick could take on the position in July 2013, will now no longer be Zynga's Chief Product Officer. Instead he will now be Chairman of the Board of Directors, and won't have a day-to-day role in operating the company anymore. Pincus still is the company's largest shareholder.

Mattrick stated in a blog post that Garden will start working at Zynga on May 5th in the newly created role of President of Zynga Studios. Mattrick added, " He is an exciting hire for us as we focus on growing and sustaining our franchises, creating breakthrough entertainment experiences and developing more creative leadership across Zynga."

Garden helped to found game developer Relic Entertainment in the 1990s and was CEO of Publishing at Nexon North America before joining Microsoft in 2009. He later became the general manager of Xbox Live and has lead the Xbox Music team since January 2013. Under his leadership, Microsoft expanded the audience of Xbox Music thanks to the launch of iOS and Android apps along with a web-based version.

Source: Zynga | Image via Zynga

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Wow, you'd think they'd take one look at the first 24 months of Xbox Music and pay the guy NOT to work for them...

I mean, it's finally starting to come together but it's still a long way from being a great service which is incredible and embarrassing for Microsoft. They have the talent but clearly don't know how to use it.

As an aside: I vaguely remember hearing that initially Xbox Music was farmed out to a place in France that is used as an incubation centre for student and graduate developers. And that after the disastrous first year they took it back in-house at Redmond and put a new team on it for Windows 8.1. Anyone know the facts?

It's just such a shame they've clearly never had any people on their team who have ever used iTunes, Spotify, Zune, Windows Phone, Windows in general, or even someone who had a music collection. Maybe that would have helped...

I would like to see a decent Zune Client as well. But if this guy took over Xbox Music in Jan '13, I don't think you can blame him for the state of the Music App. I don't know who is to blame, the Modern UI could be to blame. There aren't any Modern apps showing similar capability. Well, actually Media Monkey does, including wifi sync, but that's the only one I know of, and highly recommend it.

A Modern Zune Client or even an updated Win32 Zune Client that works with Windows Phone 8.x would be welcome.

Media Monkey's unfortunately still semi-broken ever since Win8.1 came out and over on the forum they keep promising a "big" update but have done nothing at all in the last 6 months.

Still works as expected for me, I'm on 8.1U1 and using it on an Asus Vivo Tab 8, Surface RT and HTC One. But all I do is sync playlists and songs, I know it does quite a bit more. Would love to use Zune instead with the functionality that Media Monkey has.

Yeah, song playback is ok but aspects of video playback are completely broken and acknowledged by them but no updates. I'd like the Zune client too, there's so much good functionality there they dumped with XBox Music.

Right on. I only tried one video, and I think I did have problems. I'm actually starting to like Xbox Video. The Streaming service seems to have received and update or there was a silent app update. HD streaming is much more consistent lately and of course they have the content I want. The Main UI is still kind of cumbersome and poorly designed IMO. Xbox Music on the other hand ... I've just given up hope.

If they added external and embedded subtitle support and MKV support to XBox Video I'd have no major problems with it, but XBox Music is a lost cause. They need to overhaul it completely because patch-work ain't gonna do it.

WOW! Soon as I saw the news header I thought the same thing! Nothing like a guy taking a good thing (Zune) and Destroying it (XBM 1.0).

Maybe we'll get somewhere for my grandfathered $45 a quarter subscription.

Brody McKee said,
Maybe we'll get a better service too... a full catalogue of music, song that don't go missing, etc...
God I hate that, I hate that so ####ing much! Though I've also seen Spotify do it here and there before. Does anyone know the reasoning why they do that?

Synthetic said,
God I hate that, I hate that so ####ing much! Though I've also seen Spotify do it here and there before. Does anyone know the reasoning why they do that?

Has to do with licensing most likely, they had a license for the music and for whatever reason the publisher changed terms and the license got revoked.