Xbox Live, MS Game Studios chief defects to EA

Just weeks after he presided over Microsoft's E3 event, John Schappert has returned to his former employer as its new COO; predecessor lands at social-network game maker.


Earlier this month, John Schappert presided over Microsoft's jam-packed press conference, which saw the unveiling of Crackdown 2, Left 4 Dead 2, Halo Reach, and the motion-sensing Project Natal. Ironically, supervising the event would be one of his last duties as corporate vice president in charge of Microsoft Game Studios and Xbox Live.

EA COO John Schappert's Microsoft executive headshot.
EA COO John Schappert's Microsoft executive headshot.

Today, in a shock announcement, Electronic Arts announced that Schappert has been hired to be the third-party publisher's chief operating officer. If that sounds familiar, it's because his job before going to Microsoft was as an executive vice president at EA overseeing its company-wide development and online efforts. Prior to that, he was COO of EA's worldwide studios.

"We are thrilled to welcome John Schappert back to EA," said EA CEO John Riccitiello in a statement. "He has a great track record as a leader and innovator in our industry. His years of experience with EA and in Microsoft's Xbox business provide him great insight into recognizing what consumers want." For his part, Schappert said, "I've got EA in my blood."

Schappert's appointment as EA's COO is doubly surprising, given his predecessor's high profile as of late. Just last week, ex-EA COO John Pleasants presented the company's agenda at an investor conference where he revealed the existence of Battlefield 3 and Criterion's takeover of the Need For Speed series.

As for Pleasants' fate, EA's announcement said only that he would "be leaving the company." However, a near-simultaneous press release touted the executive's new gig as CEO of Playdom, a social-gaming service that makes titles playable on Facebook and MySpace.

Schappert's departure also echoes that of current EA Sports president Peter Moore. The longtime Microsoft corporate vice president and tireless Xbox 360 promoter also left the software giant for EA shortly after touting the Xbox 360 at an E3 presentation (back in 2007).

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