Schappert: Why I left EA for Zynga

Schappert: Why I left EA for Zynga

By Rob Crossley

May 3rd 2012 at 5:53PM

Industry must follow changes in player habits, industry exec claims

EA’s second-in-command John Schappert joined social rival Zynga because “it was where I saw gaming going”, the industry executive has said.

In a world-exclusive interview in the latest edition of Develop, Schappert for the first time offers insight into his decision to resign as EA COO and take on the same role at the Facebook games giant.

“When I was at Electronic Arts I worked very closely with the group that had casual, mobile and social, and you just saw the explosive growth that was happening in that. It’s going from a couple of hundred million gamers to everyone being a gamer, billions of people,” he said.

He added that, though there is still a market for console games, consumer behavior has transformed and the industry must turn with it.

“People have to change. You have to think about things differently,” he said.

“I’ve been in the industry my entire career. I love games, but I look at my own habits: I have fewer and fewer times where I could dedicate 40 hours to a longer play time experience. But I find myself dedicating ten, 15 minutes here and there to these short-burst experiences.”

Schappert, who co-founded EA Tiburon in 1994, moved to Microsoft in 2007 to head up the Xbox Live division. Two years later he moved back to EA, though he jumped again – this time to Zynga – after another two-year spell.

He told Develop the traditional part of the business “has always been limited by” the need by hardware, software and retail.

“There’s all of these barriers that the industry has been living in before,” he said.

“You can’t think about $60 games and an installed base of a console. You’ve got to think ‘where are all the gamers today?’ They’re on that iPhone, they’re on Android devices, they’re on tablets, Macintosh, they’re on that PC, they are everywhere.

“Today, every device you have is a gaming device and everyone is a gamer. And when you [work towards] that… a quarter of a billion people a month play your game.”