The men who brought you the Xbox and Xbox 360 are leaving Microsoft.
News blog Techflash has obtained a memo confirming that Robbie Bach, the head of the Xbox department at Microsoft, and J Allard, the executive behind both the Xbox 360 and the Zune, have departed Microsoft. The memo, sent from Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to employees, reports that Bach is retiring after 22 years at Microsoft. J Allard's departure from the company is relegated to a single line in the memo, and while no official reason is given, unofficial reports indicate that Allard's departure is tied to the cancellation of his former project, a Microsoft-developed tablet PC to compete with the iPad. Both executives will stay with Microsoft until the fall, and Allard will continue to "advise" Steve Ballmer about products in the future, but their direct involvement with anything Microsoft is just about over.
So, yeah, a couple of executives are leaving/being politely yet firmly asked to leave Microsoft. No need to cry for these two millionaires; I'm sure they've been well compensated over their tenure at Microsoft. But let's take a step back and just appreciate what these guys were able to do, not just for Microsoft, but for video games.
These are the folks who brought us the Xbox and the Xbox 360. Think about everything that happened to video games because of those two consoles:
- Western developers were able to gain a foothold in console development.
- Online play in console games became an expectation.
- Xbox Live and the social gaming experience.
- The propagation of downloadable games and downloadable content.
- Achievement points.
- Gears of War.
We're talking about features and franchises so ingrained into our interpretation of modern video games that they're practically synonymous with video games. Can you even imagine what video games would be like without the achievement points metagame? Without friends lists and party chat? Without Master Chief? You may not love every single development that occurred in video games because of the Xbox, but you would be foolish to deny their importance, how central the Xbox has become to the production of video games. And the two men responsible for making the Xbox are now leaving, having radically altered the course of the medium. Not too shabby at all.
So, Robbie Bach and J Allard, I salute you. You folks done good. Ain't a day that goes by that I don't appreciate your work.
Oh, and if you want to let Allard know directly how you feel about his work, send him a friend request on Xbox Live. His gamertag is HiroProtagonist, and he's always ready to throw down. I hear he loves the Xbox. He signed up on day one!
How do you guys feel? Do you want to thank Robbie and J for the good times or curse them for the red rings?