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Interview: New EA Sports COO Moller Talks Diverse Audiences, Digital Strategy

Longtime EA Sports VP and GM Steve Chiang's move to Zynga makes room for new leaders at EA Sports, and Gamasutra talks to new COO Pauline Moller about her unique role and the label's new digital strategy.
Longtime EA Sports VP and general manager Steve Chiang just left the company to join social gaming giant Zynga -- and he's being replaced with new execs who also have their eyes on the social space. Global Online Group leader Andrew Wilson adds leadership of worldwide development to his plate, and 13-year Electronic Arts veteran Pauline Moller, former general manager at EA Canada, is the sports label's new COO. "The departure of Steve Chiang allows us to graduate this new generation of creative leadership," says label head Peter Moore on his blog, where he adds that Wilson and Moller "will help continue our commitment to the digital transformation of our sports business." "Who would have thought?" Moller says to Gamasutra of her new position. "When I started 13 years ago, it was an exciting opportunity to be part of new media. I never thought I'd be GM at EA Canada, and I certainly never thought I'd be doing this." It's such a surprise to her because she never had a gaming background, she says. "Being in the high-tech software industry before coming to EA, I thought it was a new and exciting space, but I had the business savvy to bring long-term planning to the process." "Not being a hardcore gamer hasn't stopped me," she adds. In fact, as a casual player and female executive, she says she's ideally placed to bring refreshing ideas to EA Sports and inform its diversification strategy. "There are lots more different types of consumers who want to enjoy this part of the industry, and I think I can bring some insight to that strategy." Broadening the audience for its sports and racing products, genres traditionally limited to a hardcore audience with detailed knowledge of the sport itself, has been a major aim for publisher Electronic Arts for some time. The company's currently beta-testing a general audience-oriented FIFA Online in Europe, heading to Facebook with its Madden IP, and aiming for less sports-sim and more accessibility with the revival of NBA Jam. "I think the fact that I can play this role is reinforcing the fact that EA Sports is committed to providing different kinds of extensions to different types of sports fans everywhere," says Moller. There will always be the hardcore sports fans that require addressing, says Moller, but "new markets and new channels of delivery" is "one of the pillars" of the label's strategy. "How do we make a product approachable to the kind of consumers we are targeting? One thing I'm excited about is how do we take the experience more digital, how do we accelerate the digital transformation?" "We don't want to discount different channels and different ways people can get the experience," she continues. "Our recent acquisition of Playfish gives us the opportunity to expand in that space, and we can quickly get up to speed on what works in that space that we can apply in a sports context." "We want to draw on things people are emotional about," says Moller. "We're looking at a broad spectrum of different things."

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