Executive revolving door spins fast as EA rehires Microsoft game exec

Electronic Arts and Microsoft are trading executives the way sports teams trade star players.

The revolving door between the two companies spun again as EA rehired John Schappert as its chief operating officer. Schappert was head of Microsoft’s game services such as Xbox Live. He will be returning to a job he vacated in 2007 to join Microsoft.

Schappert replaces John Pleasants, who is leaving EA to become chief executive of social gaming startup Playdom. Schappert will have responsibility for technology research, global game publishing and marketing, and other centralized tasks.

Schappert has a long history at EA. He started programming games in 1991 and founded Tiburon in 1994. There, his team made the Madden NFL sports games for EA. Then EA bought Tiburon in 1994 and Schappert rose through the ranks to take the No. 2 job.

Schappert will start his new job on July 14. When Schappert left EA in 2007, he reported to Peter Moore, who ran Microsoft’s games business. Then Moore left in 2008 to head EA Sports. Moore’s replacement was Don Mattrick, who used to run the game studios at EA. Mattrick continues to run Microsoft’s games, but Schappert had a high profile, often coming on stage at events to tout Microsoft’s Xbox Live online games service.

Microsoft said in a statement that it will not replace Schappert. Rather, his direct reports, Marc Whitten and Phil Spencer will lead their respective businesses, LIVE Services and Microsoft Game Studios, and report directly to the top game executive, Mattrick. One thing’s for sure. There are no secrets between EA and Microsoft.

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