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Zynga's CEO tried to buy game slinger in 2010... while Xbox chief - report

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Zynga’s new chief executive Don Mattrick liked the online gaming firm so much, he considered buying it for Xbox while he was a Microsoft bigwig.

Mattrick, until last week the head of Microsoft’s entertainment division, negotiated with Zynga founder Mark Pincus to buy Zynga in 2010, "insiders" told Bloomberg.

According to the sources, the former Redmond bod had been hoping Zynga would bolster the Xbox’s line-up in social games but the deal failed to go anywhere. Zynga has declined to comment.

At the time, Zynga was adding millions of users to the services through its presence on Facebook, after finding sudden success with the Farmville games. But when Facebook users moved to smartphones, Zynga wasn't nimble enough to adapt.

Since then, Zynga’s user base has actually been shrinking and the company has been cutting employees. The gaming firm is hoping Mattrick's experience at EA - where he built up The Sims franchise - and at Xbox will help him guide the firm back to health.

Although Mattrick has been hired to revive Zynga’s fortunes, the company's founder, Pincus – whom he replaces – remains as chief operating officer and chief product officer.

Announcing Mattrick's recruitment, Pincus highlighted the ex-Microsoft man’s success in building the Xbox gaming network from 10 to 80 million and his transformation of the Xbox business “from deep losses to substantial profits”. Mattrick will receive $50m in salary bonus and stock for his first few years. Dare we say it... Ba-Zynga. ®

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