Two Key Execs Leave EA Playfish

Two key Playfish executives, chief operating officer Sebastien de Halleux and development and tech head Sami Lababidi, will be leaving the company, although they are expected to remain on as consultants.
Just a bit over a year after Electronic Arts paid about $300 million to acquire social game developer Playfish, two of the studio's key execs are leaving their roles. According to a report from InsideSocialGames, chief operating officer Sebastien de Halleux, who's been serving as VP within EA Interactive, will step down, as will founding development and tech head Sami Lababidi. Although the report says both will remain on as consultants, thus far EA has only confirmed to Gamasutra that de Halleux will remain nearby. "Following a great run as a co-founder of Playfish, Seb has decided to step into a consulting role," EA told us in a statement. "Going forward, he will continue to provide input on the site as we add new content and scale Playfish to millions of new players." EA acquired Playfish in November 2009, based on the developer's successful track record with games like Pet Society and Word Challenge on Facebook. The publisher said it hoped Playfish's expertise would help extend its recognizable brands, like FIFA and Madden, into the world of social gaming. But although Playfish is second among all social game developers (after Zynga) in terms of traffic, its top three games by active users (via Appdata) are its own titles: Pet Society, Restaurant City and Hotel City. And although EA Sports-branded FIFA Superstars is next with 3.3 million monthly active users, it's still not nearly the kind of performance that Pet Society, with 11.4 million MAU, is seeing. Further market-leading Zynga's performance dwarfs EA's branded portfolio: Zynga's top title, CityVille, leads with 96.2 million MAU.

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