Something, something lesser of two evils, something, something, which one?
Here's something that really took a few people, myself included, by surprise. It's only been barely a month since E3, and even less time since the Microsoft backpedal on the DRM and anti-used issues. In the wake of this though, the person that was at the forefront, and thus receiving a fair share of the criticism, Don Mattrick, is no longer with Microsoft. No, now he's actually going to become CEO of Zynga.
Mattrick may not be a name that a lot of gamers remember, but his face, as well as his statements regarding the Xbox One had been making waves for quite a while. You may remember him as the person in that video saying that if you wanted a Microsoft console that didn't require always online that they had the 360. People didn't take well to that, or to a great deal many other things that Mattrick said. Still, it's surprising that he's actually left the company considering that he was the one effectively in charge of the Xbox division.
Stranger still is the fact that of all the places that he could have gone, he's throwing his lot in with Zynga, who don't exactly have a stunning reputation itself by any stretch. Hell, the most recent newsworthy story that Zynga had produced before this was the fact that they had just undertaken massive layoffs and that some of the people that got the axe were actually happy to not be working with the company anymore.
Of course, the thing that most interests me is the exact circumstances of this particular departure. I can't help but wonder if Mattrick took some heat over the public lambasting of the Xbox One and the fact that Sony scored a lot of free and easy press just by basically doing next to nothing. If tensions were already high at Microsoft then it's possible that Mattrick might have approached Zynga himself, although there's no confirmation of that. Still, even if he was the one approached it stands to reason that if he wasn't happy with the current state of affairs (and I'd argue there wasn't a whole lot to be happy about) then being offered the position as head of a company was probably more than tempting enough to make his decision easy.
Zynga has already seen some benefits from Mattrick coming aboard, its stock has been going up for the first time in quite a while, although of course it's nowhere near the levels that the company enjoyed while they were the golden boy. The stock went from 2.8 to roughly 3.4, which isn't a bad increase all things considered.
I'm curious as to what exactly Mattrick will bring to the table as CEO of the company, although Microsoft has confirmed that his position within their own infrastructure will not be replaced, with all people that previously reported to Mattrick now reporting directly to CEO Steve Ballmer.
Whether Microsoft will take this opportunity to further distance itself from the very unpopular moves that Mattrick was effectively the spokesman for is up for debate. It would certainly be smart of them to use this move to spin themselves into a more positive position -- although let it be said that they weren't exactly hurting either, even when they had all the unpopular stuff as well -- and build up a bit of a head of steam going into the release of the Xbox One.
I would normally wish Mattrick luck, but my abhorrence of Zynga leads me to not even want to bother. I cannot see the company turning itself or its practices around. I could be wrong, but even that I believe will not undo the fact that they've been a bunch of scumbag thieves in the past. I suppose though that in the end, both them and Microsoft have nowhere to go but up after the past few weeks.