EA has opened a new casual games division and has hired former Activision president Kathy Vrabeck to head it up.EA Casual Games will be focused on anything that would be played by a wider, massmarket audience.
"All over the world, consumers are playing games that don't require hours of intense concentration," said 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."
At Activision, Vrabeck's presidential role included overseeing all the company's internal studios. She left the publisher in 2005.
"EA is aligning talent and resources to focus on the growing market for highly accessible games," added EA CEO John Riccitiello in the official announcement. "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."
As Nintendo's best-selling new formats show, there's a big audience out there for games that are accessible, family orientated or present a low barrier to entry - something similar moves by Eidos and Ubisoft in recent weeks have underlined. This has in turn lead to a subsequent hunt for new games produced by third party independent studios to go alongside those made by internal teams.
EA already has a minority casual games interest given its ownership of Pogo.com - there's no word yet on how that portal and its production team will be effected by this new move.