As the Xbox One was settling in for the long haul following a successful about-turn on almost every bad thing people perceived about it, Don Mattrick departed from Microsoft to join Zynga as CEO, a game studio focused on the casual player, famous for successes such as Farmville and Texas Hold’Em Poker. Today, he is officially the former CEO of Zynga, having been replaced by company founder Mark Pincus, who is also the chairman of Zynga’s board of directors.
When he joined the company in July 2013, Mattrick was arriving as the company was in the middle of a struggle with market relevance, facing difficulties in the mobile market and trying to find something as catchy and as big a time sink as Farmville was. Almost all of their games catered to the casual market, but their domination of the casual games market was being slowly eroded by overnight successes such as Flappy Bird, or Minecraft for Mobile. With a lot of their IP stuck on Facebook, transitioning into the Android and iOS games market proved difficult, because they needed something new.
To aid in the efforts to bring Zynga up to speed, Mattrick was brought in to help with the transition and play to the company’s strengths, with the board of directors hopeful that he would enable a successful turnaround. As of this writing they have 44 games under their belt in circulation, but they are currently in the process of shutting down thirteen others not included in that total. Still, their sales have increased in the years that have passed, and their user numbers are growing by the day. All in all, Zynga is in a good place right now.
“When I joined the company in July 2013, Mark and I shared a vision of building a meaningful company that redefines entertainment in an increasingly mobile world. I am proud of the progress we have made together,” said Mattrick in a statement to the press. “I believe the timing is now right for me to leave as CEO and let Mark lead the company into its next chapter given his passion for the founding vision and his ability to couple our mobile progress with Zynga’s unique strengths. As a company, Zynga is in a stronger position today to serve mobile consumers and take advantage of the unprecedented growth opportunity across our industry.”
“I am excited about the company’s trajectory and wish the best for Mark, Zynga and NaturalMotion as I plan to return to Canada to pursue my next challenge,” he added.
Following the announcement, Zynga stock dropped 11% in value in after-hours trading, but is slowly recovering that shortfall. The games industry will now watch closely to see where Mattrick goes next. He says he’s going to Canada – are there any game studios there that may need his help? We’ll have to wait and see.