After nigh on 20 years at Microsoft, corporate vice president of Xbox Live, Xbox Game Pass and Mixer, Mike Ybarra has announced his departure from the company.
After 20 years at Microsoft, it’s time for my next adventure. It’s been a great ride at Xbox and the future is bright. Thanks to everyone at TeamXbox, I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve accomplished and I wish you the best. More soon on what’s next for me (super excited)! 1/2…
— Mike Ybarra (@XboxQwik) October 9, 2019
Ybarra’s career at Microsoft has seen him holding many roles at the company, both gaming and non-gaming. He was General Manager for Windows 7 at one point, General Manager for Xbox Live at another. He also held a key role as Partner Studios Manager for Xbox Studios, helping to secure a number of major console exclusives with outside developers, ranging from Gears of War to Ryse: Son of Rome, Sunset Overdrive and Quantum Break.
In response to his departure, Xbox boss Phil Spencer tweeted:
Thank you (@XboxQwik) for your many contributions to Microsoft and Xbox. You've been a strong advocate for our fans from day one, and have consistently driven to keep gamers at the center of everything we do. All of us at TeamXbox wish you the best.
— Phil Spencer (@XboxP3) October 9, 2019
What he has planned next is anybody’s guess – he simply says “soon” and that it will be related to video games – but his departure comes at an interesting time, leaving just as the company will be building up to the full reveal and launch of their next generation console, Project Scarlett. That console is due out in the Holiday 2020 window, with Microsoft hoping to take a larger slice of the gaming market against the PlayStation 5, which Sony also confirmed this week will be out Christmas 2020.
However, Ybarra’s legacy will most likely be felt on the services side of the company. Leading Xbox Live, Game Pass and Mixer, they’re all about streaming and game library building, leaning into Microsoft’s plans for subscription-based gaming and game streaming. On that side of things, Microsoft and Sony will both be facing strong competition from Google Stadia, when it goes live in November.