Microsoft’s head of gaming platform strategy, Andre Vrignaud, has announced via his blog, Ozymandias, his departure from the company and his new position at Amazon in an assumed yet undisclosed gaming function. Amazon has been putting out feelers for various senior gaming positions for a while now, according to Engadget, and getting Vrignaud to defect from Microsoft is a huge success for them.
Vrignaud has been working for Microsoft since 2002 and has played a key role as director of gaming platform strategy in developing the Xbox Live architecture to the dominating position it is in today. He pioneered the controversial ideas like voice in multiplayer and paid subscriptions when faced with harsh criticism from all sides. He was also recently involved in the integration of Xbox Live into the Windows Phone 7 platform.
While Amazon revels in their success, Microsoft seems to be dropping senior employees at an alarming rate lately. After president of the Entertainment and Devices Robbie Bach retired in May 2010, J Allard left over the Courier tablet fiasco. His wife, Rebecca Norlander, also a 19-year veteran executive of the company, left right behind him. In a time when Microsoft continues to face criticism for lack of innovation and technology growth, it’s not a good sign when the executives jump ship. Windows Phone 7 is their next big release, and Microsoft hopes that a one-two success punch of Windows 7 and Windows Phone 7 will be a catalyst for change in the market’s lack of faith.
Amazon hasn’t released any details as to the nature of the gaming projects they are working on, but as the company continues to make strides in the digital market, from e-books to music, gaming platforms is a logical next frontier. We don’t know if this means Zork on your Kindle, but Xbox Live arcade game sales certainly seems to be an appropriate next step, and a good reason to poach a Microsoft gaming exec.