If the past year in big games industry departures doesn’t have your head spinning already, it might soon. Today, Xbox corporate vice president Mike Ybarra announced he is departing Microsoft.
“After 20 years at Microsoft, it’s time for my next adventure,” reads Ybarra’s announcement tweet. “Thanks to everyone at TeamXbox, I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve accomplished and I wish you the best.” Ybarra also thanks his “fellow gamers, and [Xbox’s] great fans” for their support. Whatever Ybarra’s next adventure turns out to be, it’s unclear whether he’ll remain in the games industry.
Ybarra transitioned over to the Xbox division within Microsoft in 2009, and worked as the general manager for Xbox Live and as a partner studio manager before becoming a VP in 2014. Over the past few years, Ybarra’s position has focused on Mixer, Xbox Game Pass, and Xbox Live.
Recently, Ybarra has been particularly involved on the subject of increasing compatibility and cooperation between console platforms. In 2018, Ybarra tweeted that he personally wanted cross progression on all games. At E3 2019, Ybarra told USgamer that if “any game developer or platform holder wants to come talk about cross-play, [he would] be the first one in that meeting.”
Ybarra also caught some heat from members of the games industry earlier this year when he tweeted that an article at PC Gamer was “whining” about a part of Bioware’s Anthem, and that he doesn’t “do ‘reviews’ because everyone enjoys different things.” At our sister site VG247, deputy editor Kirk McKeand pointed out that at the time of Ybarra’s comments, Anthem hadn’t even received its day one patch yet.
This is one more notable industry departure ahead of 2020’s big next-gen push in a growing list, which includes former Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime and Shawn Layden, former chairman of Sony Interactive Entertainment’s Worldwide Studios.