By now, you’ve all heard the news that Xbox boss Don Mattrick has left Microsoft for Zynga where he’ll take over as CEO. The move, which was surprising to many, started to raise questions immediately. Was he forced out after the Xbox One unveiling debacle? Was there some internal strife between him and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer? Turns out it was for a much simpler reason.
In a profile on Mattrick at Fast Company, they report that the former Xbox boss left Microsoft ahead a rumored massive corporate reorganization that would have put Mattrick in charge of the Xbox hardware business. He was apparently unhappy that he wouldn’t be given a larger role within the company and decided to leave.
It seems that Mattrick’s departure caught pretty much everybody at Microsoft by surprise as well. In these situations, the executive usually leaves once the company can find a suitable replacement. In this case, everybody in the Xbox division will now answer to Ballmer as they search for a replacement.
Fortunately, that president may be right under their noses. Many are now suggesting that Phil Spencer, currently the Corporate Vice President at Microsoft Studios, will be named the new Xbox boss. Spencer’s a good choice as he, like Mattrick, understands games and game development better than most.
No matter who’s named the new head of the Xbox division, the hand of Mattrick will still be felt on the Xbox One. A lot of his decisions – for better or worse – will continue to be reflected at launch and beyond. The most noteworthy, of course, being the introduction and subsequent reversal of the Xbox One’s controversial DRM. It will be interesting to see if his successor will continue to push for the all-digital future that he envisioned.