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EA Gets Casual

Electronic Arts Inc. today announced the formation of EA Casual Entertainment, a new unit dedicated to developing and publishing casual games for consoles, PCs, handheld devices and mobile phones. Kathy Vrabeck has been appointed president of the group, which will announce new games, franchises and licenses at a later date.

“All over the world, consumers are playing games that don’t require hours of intense concentration,” says Vrabeck. “The common denominator is casual fun. Whether it will be playing Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix on the Wii with the family or downloading Madden NFL 08 on a phone, quick-to-the-fun games are bringing new players and new demographics to interactive entertainment.”

“EA is aligning talent and resources to focus on the growing market for highly accessible games,” adds EA CEO John Riccitiello. “We’re fortunate to have recruited a dynamic executive like Kathy Vrabeck to lead this team. She’s got a proven success record in our industry and the ability to help EA lead this fast-growing genre of entertainment.”

Vrabeck previously served as president of Activision Publishing, where her duties included overseeing the company’s worldwide studios. She has also held management positions in marketing and sales for Pillsbury Company, Quaker Oats and ConAgra.

A number of other major game developers and publishers has taken notice of the growing popularity of casual games and have taken big steps to exploit opportunities in the rapidly expanding market. Just last month, Ubisoft announced that it has made significant investments and formed an internal development structure dedicated to the creation of games that appeal a wider audience than the hardcore gamer set.

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