EA reaching for larger audience

Gamer's new division headed by Vrabeck

Electronic Arts is making a big move to reach beyond its core aud with the hiring of former Activision exec Kathy Vrabeck to head a new division focused on “casual” titles accessible to non-gamers.

Vrabeck, who ankled as president of publishing at EA competitor Activision last year, will head the No. 1 publisher’s new EA Casual Entertainment. Her unit will focus on games that can easily be played with little or no prior knowledge or understanding.

Though such titles have previously been primarily for cell phones and PCs, there are a growing number for Nintendo’s DS and Wii and even high powered consoles like the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3.

Her appointment is the first significant move by John Riccitiello since he returned to EA as its CEO earlier this year. The company has recently been criticized for not moving fast enough to take advantage of new audiences who are getting into videogames, particularly with the success of Nintendo’s Wii, for which EA hasn’t yet made many original titles.

“EA is aligning talent and resources to focus on the growing market for highly accessible games,” Riccitiello said in a statement. “We’re fortunate to have recruited a dynamic executive like Kathy Vrabeck to lead this team.”

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