I stood by Microsoft and the Xbox One’s “always-on” calls that enabled a wonderful futuristic tomorrowland. I did it even when I was being shouted down for it. I did it even when Microsoft was doing their best to make the customer seem like the enemy. One thing I won’t stand for though is Don Mattrick, the well-dressed man with the ragged hair that only speaks in PR-code and only appears when a press conference is nigh. I’ve chided him for his aloofness on this site and I believe he represents everything that Microsoft shouldn’t be. As the President of Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Business overseeing the Xbox and all of the entertainment associated therein, he’s fully responsible for what’s going on and it seems that no one will hold him accountable, but there’s definitely some action required.
The Early Years
Despite what some gamers may think, Mattrick started as a gamer and subsequently, a game developer, at a young age. At 17, he co-founded Distinctive Software (DSI) in Burnaby, British Columbia, which became known for developing the Test Drive series, among many racing games at the studio, as well as many PC ports of console favorites like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Metal Gear in the eighties. Sounds pretty legit, huh?
In 1991, DSI was acquired by Electronic Arts, becoming EA Canada, currently the company’s oldest studio. EA Canada has been in charge of Need for Speed since its inception as well as virtually all of its EA Sports titles. Mattrick quickly rose through the ranks to oversee many of the titles throughout the Electronic Arts empire before retiring in 2006.
But it was during these days that Electronic Arts became its most languid, with a number of original IPs rapidly reaching zero and a bankroll provided by annual iterations of their big franchises, sports games and licensed titles. Not long after Mattrick left, CEO Larry Probst was replaced by John Riccitello. We all know how that went. Is it fair to say that Mattrick helped lead EA’s train toward the land of banality on Probst’s watch? I think so. How does a dynamite game developer go on to oversee an ocean of iterative games. Is it the suit? Is it the mind that wanders? The attractiveness of power and the slippery slope of ideals?
That would’ve been the end of the story had he not gotten the call from Robbie Bach over at Microsoft…