Microsoft’s Don Mattrick Leaves for Zynga

Amidst all the big stories being created in the gaming arena, for instance, the unveiling of Xbox One, their rival Sony taking bold initiatives in policies, announcements of strict policies by Microsoft and backpedaling later; the Interactive Entertainment Business division of Microsoft has been struck with another blow – Don Mattrick has quit Microsoft.

The social game company Zynga revealed through a blogpost that Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Business President Don Mattirck has joined them for the post of Chief Executive.

This is big news for the two giants of the gaming industry. On one hand, it is a big catch for Zynga since no matter how big they are in themselves; Microsoft is bigger still and having one of their strategy building executives on the Zynga panel broadens their abilities.

On the other; no matter how big Microsoft is, Don Mattrick has been the craftsman behind their current stronghold in the gaming industry. He joined them from EA back in 2007 when Xbox was just what we thought it was; a gaming console but things changed radically after that, and we have no doubt that the Xbox brand is now larger than that.

Don has been accepted by Steve Ballmer, the Microsoft CEO as the force behind Xbox’s transition from being just another venture of theirs to the most profitable and fastest growing division of Microsoft overall. Steve Ballmer praised Don in an email to his employees after the news was received in these words:

“Thank you, Don, for setting us on a path to completely redefine the entertainment industry” he further went on to say that “This is a great opportunity for Don, and I wish him success.”

These are nice words, coming from the CEO of Microsoft but does it mean that Don’s departure doesn’t hamper the situation at IEB? We know Steve Ballmer also stated in the aforementioned email that the people who worked under Don will now report to him directly.

Meaning that they want to make the things work as seamlessly as before but hey, it’s only a few months to one of the biggest releases made by Microsoft in the past few years!

We know that Microsoft initially put strict measures on physical releases by binding a 24 hour check in and other restrictive measures towards used games –something that the fans were unhappy about. Now this looked like their game plan at the E3 but this was completely reversed by Don Mattrick later on.

A slack was introduced; check-in policy was revoked and all the controversial policies reversed. Doesn’t this mean that Xbox is not what it actually had to be? Yes that does stand true if looked at from a single perspective but big guns like Microsoft look at things from a larger perspective.

Look at where they are now as compared to the time before 2007, Don has certainly given them all that Steve Ballmer praised him for. And in doing so, his departure now doesn’t hamper the company’s route to progress; Microsoft is a mature player in this industry now and as long s they can get a competitive alternative to Don they would be as good as they ever were.

Some might say that his departure in itself has no effect as once the original policies regarding the upcoming console were rebuked by him, the damage was done and nothing could change that so it didn’t matter that he was leaving now.

Or that the things were already not the way Microsoft had planned. However, I believe that such decisions come with the deal, when you are in an executive position, you sometimes have to take crucial decisions to stay in the game –all he did was for the sake of the future.

There is the issue about timing though; yes, he has left at a crucial time with only a few months to go in the release of Xbox One but then again, all the major decisions have been taken, apparently, and all they need to do is bid their time for a successful next-generation console release.

Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Business has grown a multifold under Don Mattrick, and that is something he deserves to be applauded for.

In Steve Ballmer’s words, look at the built-in services that come with the console; there’s Bing, Xbox Live, Internet Explorer, SkyDrive, and Skype. And, just as important, Xbox Games, Xbox Video, Xbox Music and Smart Glass that aid the PCs, tablets, and phones.

We wish him all the best and hope that Microsoft finds a suitable alternative in time to handle the showdown at Xbox One’s release.