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Don Mattrick leaves CEO position at Zynga

Xbox One

It has been rough going if you happen to be one Don Mattrick, former Xbox President, turned laughing stock of the internet. Ever since the disastrous Xbox One reveal in 2013 and the resulting damage control over at Microsoft, Mattrick has been on the outs with the gaming industry fanbase. The reveal of planned always online DRM for the new console didn’t go over as planned with gamers. People unquestionably hated the idea of needing an always-online internet connection for their consoles. And even though such DRM schemes are common in the PC space, consoles have yet to approach that level of anti-piracy measures, at least overtly.

So with Don Mattrick having to play catch-up from that blowback, he was not very well liked. And in 2013 shortly after this controversy, he left the Redmond-based company to join up with mobile firm Zynga. Mattrick brought with him years of game design and leadership experience, after all, the Mattrick era also saw the introduction of the ground-breaking Kinect sensor, which sold some very respectable numbers.

That appointment to CEO came at a time when Zynga had fallen hard from it’s previous highs within the mobile industry. Zynga stock prices had fallen considerably, and many of it’s mobile projects failed to capture enough attention to be profitable long-term. Mattrick managed to turn that around a bit. Introducing and maintaining what would become a crucial title for the struggling company, Zynga Poker, a game that could have single-handedly saved the company as it become popular on Facebook and mobile platforms. The game even accounted for as much as 25% of Zynga revenues at one point. Though the company later released a controversial update which angered many fans by drastically altering the core look and feel of the title.

And now, due to a wide variety of problems, Mattrick is sadly on the way out. Former Zynga CEO Mark Pincus will be returning to the position after Mattrick replaced him in July 2013. Mattrick has been around the games industry since the early 80’s, so he’s got plenty of legacy to fall back on should he choose to take up the mantle of another company.

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Zynga though, has a much more uncertain future, as this is not the first time a major title has soured for them. A previous acquisition of popular game Draw Something and it’s developer OMGPOP led to the game losing the majority of it’s players in just a few short months. So if they want to bounce back, Pincus better have an Ace up his sleeve.

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