Xbox President Don Mattrick Leaves Microsoft For Zynga

Microsoft has announced (after rumours circling this morning) that Don Mattick, the (ex-)President of Interactive Entertainment Business will be moving on, to take up a position as director and CEO at mobile & web game developer Zynga.

This is a big change, given how Don was at the helm of the IEB (basically Xbox and Microsoft’s other entertainment areas) for most of the Xbox 360’s commercial life.

From: Steve Ballmer
Sent: Monday, July 1, 2013
To: Microsoft – All Employees
Subject: Don Mattrick’s Next Chapter

Zynga announced today that Don Mattrick would be its new CEO, effective July 8. This is a great opportunity for Don, and I wish him success. Don’s directs will report to me and will continue to drive the day-to-day business as a team, particularly focused on shipping Xbox One this holiday.

Since joining IEB more than six years ago, Don and his team have accomplished much. Xbox Live members grew from 6 million to 48 million. Xbox 360 became the No. 1 selling console in North America the past two years. We introduced Kinect and have sold more than 24 million sensors. We released fantastic games, and, most importantly, we expanded Xbox to go beyond great gaming to deliver all the entertainment people want — sports, music, movies, live television and much more. 

In the past month, the IEB team showed for the first time here on our Redmond campus, and again at E3, how we are going to continue to transform entertainment with Xbox One. I am incredibly proud of the work and vision culminating in Xbox One.

I’m particularly excited about how Xbox pushes forward our devices and services transformation by bringing together the best of Microsoft. The consoles are incredible all-in-one devices with built-in services that consumers love, including Bing, Xbox Live, Internet Explorer, SkyDrive and Skype. And, just as important, Xbox Games, Xbox Video, Xbox Music and SmartGlass light up Windows PCs, tablets and phones.

Thank you, Don, for setting us on a path to completely redefine the entertainment industry. The strong leadership team at IEB and their teams are well positioned to deliver the next-generation entertainment console, as well as transformative entertainment experiences, long into the future.



There will be plenty of speculation as to why Don left, especially so soon after Microsoft’s E3 fiasco and subsequent Xbox One “features” backflip, and with said console only months away from launch. Was he fired? Did he not like the way the console was “forced” to react to customer sentiment? Or did he feel that it was time for someone else to take the helm for the next MS console adventure? We may never know…

At the end of the day, whether or not you agree with the Xbox division’s course over the last few years – namely Kinect integration, the expansion of Xbox gold features, the proliferation of non-gaming media and apps on the console – Don has been a major part and leader of what Microsoft see as the future of video game experiences.

Currently, no-one has been announced as taking over the now-vacant role of President of IEB, but it seems reasonable that Steve Ballmer already has enough on his plate at the moment so the position should be filled in short order.

What do you think? Was this the right move for Don Mattrick – moving across to Zynga? And where do you see Xbox going now with a new President?

Author: David Lynch View all posts by

Favourite games include Shadow Complex, the Assassin’s Creed series, and he lives in hope of a new console title in the Star Wars: Battlefront series.

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