Microsoft Scrambling After Xbox Head Jumps to Zynga

Don Mattrick, the guy who unveiled and then back-tracked on super-unpopular Xbox One used game and ‘always online’ policies, is leaving Microsoft. Mattrick will now take over as chief executive officer at Zynga, a company best known for its FarmVille Facebook app.

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Until recently Mattrick headed Microsoft’s Xbox division, which is one of the firm’s most profitable sectors. Mattrick made major headlines a few weeks ago when he unveiled the Xbox One and promptly announced two very unpopular policies: the first imposed a fee on people hoping to play used games, while the second required Xbox One gamers connect to the Internet at least once every 24 hours.

However, gamers hardly appreciated these ideas and Mattrick found himself at the center of an intense post-E3 storm. Mattrick and Microsoft finally bowed to the pressure and revealed they would ditch the unpopular policies.

Now, Mattrick is headed elsewhere. He leaves one of the gaming industry’s biggest companies for Zynga, a California-based social game services firm founded six years ago. That means Mattrick will go from overseeing the release of major Xbox exclusives like Forza Horizon to pushing FarmVille, ChefVille, and Texas HoldEm Poker.

In the words of one Businessweek reporter, it’s like “moving from steak to Skittles.”

Mattrick leaves Microsoft at a critical point — the firm has suffered a major setback with the Xbox One PR blunder and, in Mattrick’s absence, will turn to company CEO Steve Ballmer for help.

That said, it’s unlikely Ballmer will fill the role for long. You can bet the Redmond, Washington-based firm is scrambling for a replacement at this very moment.

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