Shares jumped 10.4% during the trading day following a report that Don Mattrick would take charge of the ailing game company — and another 5.9% in after-market trading when the news was officially announced. In his six years at Microsoft, Mattrick ran the interactive entertainment operation that includes the company’s Xbox gaming console. Prior to joining Microsoft he was president of Worldwide Studios at Electronic Arts and helped to develop games including “Need For Speed,” “FIFA” and “The Sims.” Mattrick replaces founder Mark Pincus who’ll remain as Chairman and Chief Product Officer. Zynga‘s shares have lost 43.6% of their value over the last 12 months as gamers lost interest in “invest and express” category, which includes titles such as “FarmVille” and “CityVille” where players try to earn objects that they can display in the game. But the company has found it hard to change its focus away from desktop computers and toward mobile devices including smartphones and tablets. Last month the company said it would slash its workforce by 18%. In November Zynga disclosed that it would reduce its dependence on Facebook, so it could introduce games on its own site without having to accept Facebook ads, steer transactions through Facebook Payments, or require users to sign in via the social network. Mattrick calls Zynga “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.”
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