Pleasants To Leave EA, Join Playdom As CEO

Social gaming startup Playdom has scored its most high-profile new hire yet: EA COO John Pleasants, who’s taking the reins as CEO. Pleasants told us about EA’s interest in social gaming — not to mention his belief in the viability of the industry’s low-cost, high-ROI business model — so it’s not surprising that he’s making his own move into the space right now. He joins a stream of Electronic Arts (NSDQ: ERTS) execs that have left for casual and social gaming startups in just Q2 alone (two of which have actually joined Playdom).

The lure of working in a startup environment — not to mention being able to get games out quickly and on the cheap — is likely what’s fueling EA’s brain drain. There’s also the prospect of cashing in on a hot trend: social gaming startups like Playdom (which is reportedly bringing in around $10 million per quarter from virtual goods sales) are prime acquisition targets for bigger gaming companies (or even eventual IPOs).

Pleasants is replacing the company’s Co-founder Dan Yue, who will move into the role of chief product officer. The Mountain View, Calif.-based startup recently split its development teams into two studios, one for role-playing games (RPGs) and the other for other casual titles; the new studios’ executive producers will report to Yue. In a statement, Yue said Pleasant’s industry connections would be key to helping Playdom “scale quickly.” Release.