A new face is coming to Zynga. Can Don Mattrick turn around the company’s misfortune?

The head of Xbox, Don Mattrick, may be leaving Microsoft to helm troubled social publisher Zynga, if this report from AllThingsD is accurate. According to the report, Mattrick could be established as CEO and work closely with Zynga Founder and current CEO Mark Pincus, in whom confidence has faded dramatically in recent years. After a booming start on Facebook and the prospect of a successful IPO, the stock never rebounded and every piece of news about the company regards a lawsuit. In other words, under Pincus’ tenure, the company has faltered considerably.

Following John Riccitiello stepping down from Electronic Arts, the firm shortlisted Mattrick as a potential replacement. Going to Zynga instead, the social games maker is looking for a company face, someone known to audiences. Mattrick is as good a pick as any, famous for treading on E3′s grand stage for years representing Microsoft.

The move is mutually beneficial, too, for all parties involved: Mattrick and Microsoft looks to new opportunities to freshen things up, especially after Microsoft’s infamous Xbox One backtracking, and Zynga acquires someone with vast knowledge of the business.

One does wonder just how much the Xbox One debacle played into Mattrick’s decision. It’s unclear who ultimately made the choice to first use the unfavourable policies, or who called for relinquishing those policies. However Mattrick felt the brunt of consumer scorn. At Zynga, needless to say, its fan base isn’t as hostile, or at the least, vocal.

Moving to Zynga projects a certain eagerness for change. Breathing new life into a company that by most accounts desperately needs it. But does that mean Zynga games could come to consoles any time soon? Possibly in the future, given Mattrick’s extensive experience, and for the fact that Zynga has yet to break through. A socially conscious eighth console generation means, though, that a change could be on the horizon.

An obstacle to those plans is Marc Pincus, whose new role is undetermined. Speaking last year, Zynga’s steadfast CEO forthrightly stated his company has little interest in consoles, saying, “There’s too much friction [in the console world].” But this is coming from a man who guided Zynga to mobile too slowly, which some have attributed to the firm’s decline. For the company’s sake, he should change his tune once Mattrick comes on board.

It’s a time for Zynga to reinvent itself. Mattrick is the answer.

What do you think of the move? Best for Mattrick, Microsoft or Zynga?

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  • brianc6234

    Why would anyone want a bonehead like Mattrick as their CEO? Dumb.

  • plsburydoughboy

    Isn’t it just wishful thinking to say Don will bring Zynga games to consoles without any indication from him or Zynga that they have any interest to do so? Likewise, it’s speculative to call Pincus an obstacle to that.

    • JeffHeilig

      I wouldn’t say it’s wishful thinking. The way Microsoft and Sony have framed their consoles, they have a more socially engaged player base in mind. The share button, livestreaming, etc. I did leave the point open ended though.

      To your other point: When the presumably leaving CEO says he has no interest in consoles, that’s as sure a sign as any.

      • plsburydoughboy

        Pincus brought Mattrick in. They’ll be working together. It is speculation to say Pincus will be getting in Mattrick’s way for anything.

        Putting the console question to the test, I doubt games like Cityville and Words with Friends will find a market in any of the consoles, even in the new Android-based consoles. Where I do see the potential is in their poker and casino games, that’d be something Xbox One could see drawing in a non-gaming audience, for example. Outside of making a console games division, that’s the only direction I can see them taking that.

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