Microsoft game chief to join EA

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Microsoft Corp. said Tuesday the head of its gaming business, Peter Moore, will leave the company to join Electronic Arts Inc., the world's biggest video game publisher.

Moore will be replaced by Don Mattrick, a former top Electronic Arts executive who has served as an adviser to Microsoft on video games for the past six months.

Moore will stay at Microsoft until Sept. 1, though Mattrick will start his new job on July 30.

The announcement comes two weeks after Microsoft said it would take a charge of up to $1.15 billion to fix an "unacceptable" number of broken Xbox 360 game consoles.

It also comes on the heels of E3, the video game industry's annual expo, where Moore had a highly visible role as host of Microsoft's press briefing. Microsoft said there was nothing to be read into the timing of Moore's departure.

"It's just how things fall. A lot of this timing was driven by Electronic Arts," said Robbie Bach, president of Microsoft's entertainment and devices division that includes the Xbox 360. "Peter's a sports nut, so it's a good job for Peter."

As head of EA Sports, Moore will take charge of some of the company's biggest money-spinning franchises, such as "Madden" football, "FIFA" soccer and "Tiger Woods PGA Tour" golf.

A month ago, Electronic Arts' new chief executive, John Riccitiello, reorganized the publisher into four units to help make it more efficient.

"What I want to try to do is ... look at new ways to grow that business both domestically and internationally," Riccitiello told Reuters.

"Peter is an unbelievably talented executive. When he was running Sega and their sports business, it was the only time that EA felt threatened in sports," Riccitiello said.

After joining Microsoft from Sega Toys Ltd., Moore became the marketing face of the company's Xbox push, delivering sharp attacks on Microsoft's main rival, Sony Corp.'sPlayStation console.

Moore will receive a one-time bonus of $1.5 million from Electronic Arts to offset future compensation he was due at Microsoft.

The change in management comes at a time when Microsoft's competitors are gearing up to cut into the company's early lead in the battle of next-generation game machines.

Sony recently cut prices for its PlayStation 3, while Nintendo Co. Ltd.'s Wii console is outselling both machines.

"There is enough institutional knowledge within the Xbox business, and there are enough people who have been there a long time, so things should keep running pretty smoothly," said Matt Rosoff, an analyst at Directions on Microsoft, an independent research firm.

Mattrick was president of EA's Worldwide Studios and was considered a shoo-in to become the company's next CEO before he left the company in 2005.
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