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Xbox One: "The buck stopped with Mattrick"

Xbox One: "The buck stopped with Mattrick"

Mon 01 Jul 2013 10:01pm GMT / 6:01pm EDT / 3:01pm PDT
BusinessPeople

Analysts weigh in on the strange timing of Don Mattrick's departure and how the move to a "troubled" company like Zynga is "unfathomable"

The rumor that spread like wildfire was quickly confirmed today, as social games company Zynga happily announced Don Mattrick as its new CEO. The news comes not long after Microsoft made a complete reversal on its restrictive Xbox One policies, causing some industry analysts to scratch their heads.

"The timing seems awful to me. I could see Mr. Mattrick departing for greener pastures a year after the Xbox One launches, but to exit 5 months before the new platform arrives strikes me as strange," IDC research manager Lewis Ward told GamesIndustry International.

"I think this news will make some revisit and question the wisdom of the entire Xbox One strategy, at least among those who follow console platforms closely," Ward continued. "One can only assume MS performed an internal review of how the Xbox One chose its misguided DRM and connected console strategy (before the post-E3 'Xbox 180') and found the buck stopped with Mattrick."

"it's hard not to read this departure as a referendum on the current status of Xbox One, and Microsoft is clearly looking for a new direction"

Lewis Ward

"Xbox has otherwise been on a tear for the past 2 years and appears reasonably well positioned for growth. Perhaps some reason related to the broader Microsoft reorg will come to light in the next few weeks but it's hard not to read this departure as a referendum on the current status of Xbox One, and Microsoft is clearly looking for a new direction."

Strange as the move may be, some actually believe it will be good for Microsoft. Independent analyst Billy Pidgeon noted, "Microsoft's turnaround on the initial digital policy for Xbox One provided a great opportunity for Don Mattrick to leave. Microsoft can announce a new Xbox business leader and the executive shift will play as part of the strategic change for Xbox One without much negative effect on the impending launch."

EEDAR's Jesse Divnich believes things will be just fine for Xbox post-Mattrick as well. In fact, Divnich thinks that Mattrick deserves more credit for having the courage to reverse the Xbox One policies.

"Don's been an industry pioneer and a key catalyst to Microsoft's success in video games. He's leaving behind a well-crafted and very skilled team of executives that are perfectly capable of carrying the torch," he commented. "It can take months from initial engagement to when an executive decides to leave a company to join another. Any near-term events were probably unrelated to his decision, but we'll truly never know."

"The fact that Don and the Microsoft team took an active listening approach to their consumers and reversed key business policies as quickly as they did speaks a lot to Don's integrity and work ethic. A lesser person may have kept these issues unresolved or passed them along to his successor or subordinates... I don't think anyone anticipates Don's departure to impact the Xbox One's launch."

"turning Zynga's fortunes around may be even beyond the talents of Don Mattrick, as Zynga has so badly squandered a strong position"

Billy Pidgeon

Analysts also had mixed opinions on Mattrick's new role as Zynga's boss. Lewis Ward was flat-out shocked. "Going to Zynga?! This is worthy of an SNL segment, 'Really?!? with Seth Meyers'. Why would Mattrick leave Xbox for a troubled company like Zynga?! I can see why Zynga would want him but why Mattrick would want to climb aboard what might generously be described as a ship that's taking on water like Zynga is unfathomable to me," he stressed.

Pidgeon wasn't much more optimistic, believing that Mattrick may be facing a huge uphill battle at a social company that's been dealing with its own upheaval. "Having Don Mattrick replace Mark Pincus will be good for Zynga in the short term. Don's talent, experience and connections would make a huge difference at most game companies, and hopefully he can help transform Zynga. However, turning Zynga's fortunes around may be even beyond the talents of Don Mattrick, as Zynga has so badly squandered a strong position in the free-to-play social sector they initially owned regionally and the company has failed to compete strongly in the mobile sector," he said.

RW Baird's Colin Sebastian has a slightly more positive view, but he's not denying the challenges that Mattrick will face at Zynga. He called Mattrick a "good catch" and "a positive development for Zynga."

"Overall, we view the appointment of Microsoft executive Don Mattrick as the new CEO of Zynga as a positive development for the company, given his industry and street credibility and experience building platforms and networks. While there was broad speculation that Mr. Mattrick was a candidate for the EA CEO position, we believe his close relationships with Zynga board members and desire to focus on mobile game development likely played some part in this decision. In our view, Zynga still faces execution challenges in a pivot from social to mobile, although now with a more credible leader at the top," he said.

"While Mr. Mattrick's relative lack of experience in mobile may be an Achilles heel, we believe his experience building networks and platforms at Microsoft should still help Zynga in pivoting away from Facebook... While there are precedents for Internet businesses run successfully by co-founders (e.g., Bezos at Amazon, Page at Google), we were increasingly wary about Mr. Pincus' balancing act between a long-term strategic vision and the company's short-term execution challenges. We also note one potential risk will be the ability for Mr. Mattrick and Mr. Pincus to agree on strategic priorities and decision making."

8 Comments

Rick Lopez
Illustrator, Graphic Designer

1,269 941 0.7
I dont think Zynga could do anything worse than what it has been doing. One cant blame Don with everything wrong with Microsoft. After all he has to work in the interest of the company. He never came off to me as a bad guy, so i cant really think ill of him. So i wish him success wherever he may go. I just wish he would go to somewhere else since I really hate Zynga.

At the end of the day regardless who's descision it was for microsft to make those evil announcements (pun intended), Don was the face of it all. He either was asked nicely by microsoft to leave, since his image is the one people remember for those announcements, or he himself was troubled by the shit storm surrounding microsoft that he decided to leave and wanted no more part in it.

If Anything, look at Phil harrison, He was once with SONY putting in a good word for whatever they were doing, so now he does the same for microsoft regardless what direction the companie goes, its his job to support it. So one cant blame one individual person when a company stumbles. However these people become the face of whatever part they played in the company.

And Don is the face of E3's failure. So he was either asked nicely to leave or he himself decided to go.

At the end of the day, anybody who doesnt care about making games could go make a good chunk a money from Zynga, Guy needs to make a living, cant blame him.

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Rick Lopez on 1st July 2013 11:50pm

Posted:A year ago

#1

Paul Jace
Merchandiser

869 1,277 1.5
"Xbox has otherwise been on a tear for the past 2 years and appears reasonably well positioned for growth.
And yet nobody in the company took a look at "why" they've been so succesful over the last 2 and a half years. It definitely didn't have anything to do with restricting their users of being able to play offline and to sell/use their used games in any manner they wish.
"The fact that Don and the Microsoft team took an active listening approach to their consumers and reversed key business policies as quickly as they did speaks a lot to Don's integrity and work ethic"
Well atleasts thats one good thing he did before he left. Because I doubt very few incoming replacements would want to have that mess spilled on their lap.

Posted:A year ago

#2
Microsoft is clearly looking for a new direction
We are aware of the annalists proposal for the break away Xbox division - we are aware of the corporations plan for a TV rather than game approach - and we were aware of the corporations plans for DRM... that now has been reversed.

One has to wonder how much of a gagging clause Mattrick is under - to be able to exit before XBone's launch - but in changing "direction" more blood will have to be shed!

Posted:A year ago

#3
I dont know if its so easy to draw aline under the departure of mattrick. The XBONE strategy would have to be radically altered for teh Christmas wars/roll out and all in one entertainment global plans

Posted:A year ago

#4

Paul Shirley
Programmers

174 147 0.8
A simpler explanation is: the entire affair stinks of corporate Microsoft. If HQ stepped in and forced policies on gaming it's easy to believe employees would jump ship.

My question would then be: was Mattrick sacked because he defied HQ to reverse policy OR was he sacrificed to save Ballmer after HQ panicked (Ballmer being the driving force of the current 'Windows everywhere' train wreck). Either way, till Ballmer goes gaming won't be safe at Microsoft.

In other thought's, it's already been suggested this is a repeat of the Nokia/Elop affair. Mattrick will be back when he's dropped Zyngas share price to something Microsoft is happy with ;)

Posted:A year ago

#5

Adam Campbell
Associate Producer

1,137 914 0.8
It does.

Whether or not he was pushed, this clearly give Microsoft an excuse for any structural or PR problems of late.

Posted:A year ago

#6

Leigh Pankhurst
Studying Animator

7 4 0.6
"The fact that Don and the Microsoft team took an active listening approach to their consumers and reversed key business policies as quickly as they did speaks a lot to Don's integrity and work ethic"

What a lot of sycophantic drivel.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Leigh Pankhurst on 2nd July 2013 7:04pm

Posted:A year ago

#7

Donald Dalley
Freelance writer

50 31 0.6
it's already been suggested this is a repeat of the Nokia/Elop affair. Mattrick will be back when he's dropped Zyngas share price to something Microsoft is happy with ;)
Oh, now that's beautiful and I did chuckle. I will also watch for that to happen or not.

Posted:A year ago

#8

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