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(Pocket-lint) - Don Mattrick, the former head of Microsoft's entertainment arm, has started in his new role of CEO of games app developer and publisher Zynga, amid reports that he previously tried to acquire his new company for his old.

It is claimed by people familiar with the mattter that in 2010 Mattrick had discussions with Zynga founder Mark Pincus with the aim of buying the maker of Farmville and publisher of Draw Something. It was believed that the software giant wanted to bolster the Xbox Live games line-up with Zynga's series of big-name social titles, already a hit on platforms such as iOS and Facebook.

Those negotiations drew a blank, but Mattrick became close friends with Pincus in the process - a friendship that has ultimately lead to the ex-Microsoft executive taking charge of Zynga.

In its heyday, Zynga was a huge and important driver for social gaming across multiple platforms. It was the top Facebook games publisher by far. But King.com and others have taken the limelight in the past year or so - the former with Candy Crush Saga. Mattrick's main target will be to wake a sleeping giant.

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"Mattrick faces two challenges," Erik Gordon, a University of Michigan business professor, told Bloomberg. "He has to find a way to turn around a company that went from cool to cold, and he has to work out his relationship to Mark Pincus, who won't be CEO but will be in control."

Microsoft is yet to name a successor to Don Mattrick. It will be a vital role as the release date of the Xbox One rapidly approaches.

Writing by Rik Henderson. Originally published on 8 July 2013.