Electronic Arts Chief Operating Officer John Schappert has left the company, apparently to take a position at the much-loved casual gaming behemoth Zynga.
John Schappert is what you'd call a veteran of the industry. His first credited game, according to Mobygames, is a 1992 SNES release called Taz-Mania; that same year, he took a position with EA, programming the multi-platform Desert Strike: Return to the Gulf. By 2007 he had risen to the position of executive vice president at two EA groups, but in August of that year he jumped ship to Microsoft to become corporate vice president of Live, software and services. In 2009 he returned to EA as chief operating officer but now he's gone again and this time, according to the rumor, he's headed in a slightly different direction: toward the casual playground of Zynga.
Yes, I was kidding with that "much-loved" crack about Zynga. The truth is that most of us loathe Zynga, although I don't think we're always entirely truthful about why. The most commonly-heard claim is that it's because of the low-quality FarmVille style of games the company produces, but I suspect that what really gets our goats is not the dubious quality but the fact that it's so damned successful with them. While "we" twist ourselves into knots over First Amendment concerns and debates about games as art, tens of millions of "them" go online every day to plink away at Zynga's ridiculously popular offerings.
That fact seems to infuriate a lot of core gamers and so for that same reason, Schappert's move to Zynga, if that is in fact what's happened, should ruffle some feathers as well. Leaping from a top executive position at one of the world's foremost videogame publishers to take on an as-yet-unspecified role at the relatively young Zynga kind of says something about the state of the industry, don't you think?