Electronic Arts shakes up business in efficiency drive

Video games giant Electronic Arts has restructured its business around four key divisions in a bid to simplify decision-making, improve global focus and speed up its new product development strategy.

The company will now focus around four core labels, EA Sports, EA Games, EA Casual Entertainment and The Sims, and each division will operate as vertical businesses. An EA spokesman says the restructure has been prompted by the success of the team that created The Sims brand.

The spokesman adds that there are no changes to how local publishing – including marketing – is handled, but adds that more details will be announced soon. In the UK, Gary Booker, a former sports marketer who has worked at Adidas, is marketing director.

Each brand division will have a dedicated president and, as with The Sims team, a degree of autonomy. Nancy Smith will head The Sims, Kathy Vrabeck will take the helm at EA Casual Entertainment, and Frank Gibeau will steer EA Games. EA Sports has yet to announce a president, but will be overseen by Joel Linzner until a permanent chief is found.

Executive vice-president John Schappert will head the Central Development Services division. It will spearhead its technology, operations and online operations for the brands.

EA Global Publishing will be responsible for strategic planning, marketing, sales and distribution in the Asia, Europe, Latin America and North America regions, but each label is expected to be responsible for local marketing strategy.

The biggest changes are likely to affect the development studios, which employ a significant number of staff. In a statement announcing the restructure, the company said “each label will operate with dedicated studio and publishing teams, focused on consumer-driven priorities”, leading to speculation there will be job cuts.

Observers say the move aims to reduce development costs of next-generation console games, which are increasingly matching Hollywood film budgets.

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