Last week, the head of Xbox, Don Mattrick left Microsoft to become the CEO of the game company Zynga. With the Xbox One only months away from release, in some ways, it is odd that Mattrick would leave now, but not altogether surprising. The question on everyone’s mind, though, is why? But there is another question that presents itself, as well: Will it affect Microsoft adversely, or will it be a welcome change? Of course, it is also possible that it will not affect anything at all, but it is still worth discussing Mattrick’s reasoning and the repercussions.
According to reports from Gamesindustry.biz, Mattrick’s leave was always planned. He just had not decided when he was going to leave. From what is known, Mattrick was originally intending to leave either a few months after E3 or shortly after the launch of the Xbox One. Why did he leave now, then? It is speculated that Microsoft has a reorganization planned that would put Mattrick in a position he did not wish to be in. Following suit with his personality traits, he may have left because he was limited to just the Xbox project and that he wanted more projects under his control.
We may never know all the factors that brought about his departure, but both of these theories could be true, in part or whole. Especially considering Mattrick’s previous work at EA as the Chief Creative Officer, and the surge in Xbox subscriptions once he signed on at Microsoft. Of course, there is also the possibility of Microsoft using Mattrick as a target to blame. He may have left because of how Microsoft used him as a scapegoat. According to Stableytimes, Microsoft blamed Mattrick for the DRM policy and used his leave as an excuse for the radical policy change. Even with all these theories about why he left, with the truth probably some mix of them, why did he leave for Zynga?
Purportedly, Mattrick left for Zynga because he had been offered a CEO position some time ago, and Mattrick may have tried to buy Zynga back in 2010. Also, given the fact that all the Zynga games have a large base of devout players, he could easily make the company worth more with the right strategy. Hard data shows backs up this strategy angle because, as Gamesindustry.biz points out, while Zynga’s stock was only less than $3 dollars last week, it has the potential to be as high as it was last year ($15). Given Mattrick’s reputation for increasing revenue of whatever company he works for, it is also possible that Zynga could end up being worth much more. This would be good for Mattrick because he has the potential to gain things such as stocks, bonuses and partial ownership in the company.
With all things considered, though, it’s still unclear what this could do to Microsoft. Since Mattrick has apparently been planning this move for some time, and Microsoft was already restructuring, there some of the upcoming changes may have already been in place. For example, Julie Larson-Green will be taking over Mattrick’s old position. However, even with plans in place, if not handled well, this could hurt the company especially given the recent negative backlash of the Xbox one and it’s radical policy changes. It is even possible, though, that Microsoft will benefit because as they reorganize, they can, as mentioned before, use him as somewhat of a scapegoat. All this is speculation, of course, and whatever happens to Microsoft can only be found out in time. What do you think of Mattrick’s move though? Was it a good or a bad decision? How do you think Microsoft will be affected by his leave? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!