Zynga has confirmed that Don Mattrick is no longer Microsoft's head of the Interactive Entertainment Business, and has been appointed chief executive at the social games firm.
Zynga's founding chief executive officer Mark Pincus will remain Chairman of the Board of Directors and Chief Product Officer of the company. This confirmed a WJS report earlier today.
In an official statement, Pincus said, "Don is unique in the game business. He turned Xbox into the world's largest console-gaming network, growing its installed base from 10 to 80 million and transformed that business from deep losses to substantial profits. And he has grown the Xbox Live player network from 6 to 50 million active members in 41 countries. Going forward, I'll continue in my role as Chairman and Chief Product Officer. I'm excited to partner with Don and the rest of our team to return Zynga to its leadership role in inventing and growing Play as a core human experience."
Mattrick commented, "I joined Zynga because I believe that Mark's pioneering vision and mission to connect the world through games is just getting started. Zynga is a great business that has yet to realize its full potential. I'm proud to partner with Mark to deliver high-quality, fun, social games wherever people want to play."
Reports say Mattrick resigned from Microsoft, although it's yet to be officially disclosed under what terms the exec departed from the Xbox firm.
In an internal email sent by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, shared online via official Microsoft channels, he confirmed that the company has no immediate replacement to take over Mattrick's former post and, at least for the time being, the division's executives will report directly Ballmer himself.
"This is a great opportunity for Don, and I wish him success," said Ballmer in the email. "I am incredibly proud of the work and vision culminating in Xbox One. I'm particularly excited about how Xbox pushes forward our devices and services transformation by bringing together the best of Microsoft," he added.
Mattrick made himself the global face of the Xbox One project, being the first executive to introduce the system at Microsoft's Redmond campus in May, and the man who officially announced the dramatic Xbox One DRM policy reversal - a move which undermined many of the console's core features that Mattrick and his team spent years building.
In the days leading up to Microsoft's DRM u-turn, Mattrick had battled to justify the system, maintaining that Microsoft had made a "good choice" in creating a "natively connected device" despite a widespread consumer backlash over the console's online requirements.
Mattrick's move to the struggling social games firm Zynga represents a major shake-up for the business that recently announced large-scale redundancies and studio closures in New York, Los Angeles and Dallas.
This came after Zynga confirmed the closure of its Japan-based studio on January 31, following the departure of several major executives including its second-in-command John Schappert, who resigned in August 2012
Mattrick's departure comes several months ahead of the global launch of Microsoft's third major games console.
The exec joined Microsoft in 2007, taking control of the company's Xbox business almost two years into the 2005-released Xbox 360's lifespan, overseeing the console's transition to a more multimedia-centric device and the launch of the family-oriented Kinect motion controller.
Mattrick started his career in games in 1982 when he co-founded development studio Distinctive Software, and created the long-running racing game series Test Drive.
Distinctive Software was acquired by Electronic Arts in 1991, where Mattrick would go on to serve as the president of Worldwide Studios. He retired from EA in 2006, before formally joining Microsoft in 2007 as SVP of the Entertainment and Devices Division.
Additional reporting: Mike Jackson