Xbox Chief Peter Moore Leaves Microsoft

UPDATED Less than a day after he chastised Sony for failing to be successful in Japan with the PlayStation 3, Microsoft's Xbox chief Peter Moore has abruptly resigned from Microsoft. Moore will become president of EA's Sports division.

Succeeding Moore at Microsoft will be Don Mattrick, who was formerly president of game development Electronic Arts. Mattrick will become senior vice president of Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment Business, which includes the Xbox and Games for Windows groups.

Microsoft said Moore was leaving the company out of a desire to return to the San Francisco Bay area, citing "personal reasons" as the driving factor. Still, industry watchers are speculating that Microsoft's struggles in the gaming market and the incredible pressure facing Moore specifically were partly to blame for his departure.

Earlier this month, Microsoft said it would take a $1 billion charge in order to repair faulty Xbox 360 consoles, which had seen an "unacceptable" number of hardware failures. And despite its entry to the market coming a year after the Xbox 360, Nintendo's Wii has quickly become the industry leader.

“While Peter will certainly be missed, we are delighted to have one of the industry’s most talented and passionate veterans on board to lead the business,” remarked Robbie Bach, president of the Entertainment and Devices Division at Microsoft. "Don is well-known and respected throughout the industry for his deep knowledge, technical expertise and management savvy."

Mattrick began working with Microsoft's Entertainment and Devices Division in February as an external advisor; it's unclear if Microsoft knew of Moore's departure plans at that point. But the management change comes at an unusual time for Microsoft - just after E3 and right as the company prepares to ramp up its game library for the crucial holiday season.

"At this point, Don does have some big shoes to fill and while the Xbox is doing well in the market, there's a number of challenges that they face going forward. Don needs to articulate his strategy relatively soon, especially as we head into the all important fourth quarter," Jupiter Research analyst Michael Gartenberg wrote on his blog.

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