Electronic Arts Hires Microsoft Interactive Entertainment Exec As COO

Electronic Arts (NSDQ: ERTS) has hired John Schappert, the corporate vice president of Microsoft’s interactive entertainment business, as its new COO. Schappert replaces John Pleasants, who is leaving the company to take the top job at Playdom. At Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT), Schappert oversaw Microsoft Game Studios and Xbox Live.

With Schappert, Electronic Arts is gaining an executive with both extensive console and online experience — a skillset that will be critical as the company tries to expand its digital operations. At Microsoft, where he’s worked for the last two years, he oversaw an aggressive expansion of the Xbox’s online service, Xbox Live, which has rapidly gained members. He was also involved in the launch of several blockbuster titles due to his involvement at Microsoft Game Studios, including Halo and Gears of War.

Schappert is the second top Microsoft executive to leave the company’s interactive entertainment group in recent weeks. CTO Chris Satchell departed for gaming manufacturer International Game Technology two weeks ago. Microsoft is not replacing Schappert’s position. Instead, Marc Whitten will continue to head Xbox Live, while Phil Spencer will lead Microsoft Game Studios. Both report to Don Mattrick, the senior vice president in charge of the interactive entertainment business. “Microsoft has complete confidence in the leadership of Marc and Phil and that their teams will remain focused and on track as we ramp up for this holiday,” a spokeswoman said.

Schappert has a long history at EA. He started Tiburon Entertainment, the studio which developed EA’s Madden NFL, NCAA Football and Tiger Woods games, and then joined EA after it purchased Tiburon in 1998. He held a number of positions at the company, including chief operating officer of its worldwide studios and executive vice president of EA’s online platform and central development services group. Release.