When Don Mattrick, former Microsoft executive of the company’s entertainment division, resigned from his post months before the launch of the Xbox One, many were shocked. However, rumors around Mattrick’s departure have been swirling months prior to the Xbox One’s reveal.
Microsoft has been dragged through the mud in the past several weeks leading up to E3 due to its controversial always online and used game DRM policies. Mattrick was the face of the Xbox One since the beginning and have had to face many challenges with selling the vision of the console. Mattrick notoriously told the press to buy the Xbox 360 if they don’t have an Internet connection and also defended the $499 price tag of the Xbox One by stating that Microsoft is offering consumers “thousands” of dollars in value.
Mattrick was also the one that delivered the news of its U-turn on the Xbox One’s controversial policies days after E3. Many assumed that Mattrick might have been asked to leave by Microsoft for the debacle, but industry experts believe that he intended to leave all along.
When John Riccitiello, former CEO of Electronics Arts stepped down back in March, there was a rumor that Don Mattrick was being courted to be CEO of the largest video game publisher in the world. We recently found out with Mattrick’s new post as CEO of Zynga, Mark Pincus, majority share holder of the company has also been courting him for some time as well.
A recent SEC filing via Reuters revealed that Mattrick will be earning over $19 million in his first year at Zynga which includes a $5 million signing bonus.
As you can see, regardless of how things turned out with the Xbox One’s reveal, Mattrick is viewed by most industry leaders as a visionary and as someone that can get the job done. Mattrick has been largely credited for turning the ailing Xbox business around with the Xbox 360 and with Xbox Live Gold have grown its subscription base to 50 million members.
According to an inside source, Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer had Don Mattrick pinned as the new head of hardware and entertainment business as part of a broad reorganization that would impact all departments, bringing these two divisions under one person. However, Mattrick has been viewed as someone with great ambition and quite possibly have been vying to make the jump to a CEO position.
With Mattrick out of the picture, there has been some concern as to who will now steer the Xbox ship. Phil Harrison, former Sony exec who recently joined Microsoft still has to prove himself and is probably out of the running. Other Xbox execs such as Phil Spencer, Yusuf Mehdi and Marc Whitten may not be viewed as being “strong” enough to run both the Xbox division and hardware, which includes the Surface tablets.
According to a source speaking to Bloomberg, Ballmer’s next pick after Mattrick is Windows Chief, Julie Larson-Green. Unlike Mattrick, who started out in the industry working at a game developer in his teens, Larson-Green cut her teeth on UI design for Internet Explorer and Microsoft Office. She later went on to oversee the launch of Windows 7 and the controversial Windows 8.
My personal belief is that the Xbox One’s incorporation of the Windows 8 kernel was a mandate handed down from the top, to which Mattrick obliged. Microsoft’s agenda from day one was to overtake the living room with its Window’s business at all costs.
On one hand as a consumer, I am curious to see where Microsoft takes the Xbox One business in the future – voice controlled Xbox Office suite? However, as a gamer I am somewhat worried as to what the vision and strategy will be going forward with such a Windows top-heavy executive backing. While the core Xbox execs will still be working in the trenches, vision, direction and strategy will always come from above.