Zynga recruits Electronic Arts veteran to run game studios

Zynga announced today that it has appointed Steven Chiang, a veteran game executive from Electronic Arts, to be president of the social game company’s development studios.

Chiang has 17 years of experience in the console game industry, 15 of them at EA. He was most recently senior vice president and group general manager of EA Sports, where he oversaw the Madden NFL football series, one of the most valuable franchises in all of video gamedom.

Mark Pincus, chief executive of Zynga, said on his blog the move will help the company double down on its investments in social gaming. It will also heat up the competition with EA, which recently paid as much as $400 million for Zynga’s chief competitor, Playfish. Zynga has a number of other EA veterans on staff, including Mark Skaggs, who oversaw production of FarmVille, Zynga’s biggest game with 83 million monthly active users.

During Chiang’s time at EA, the company came to dominate the sports game category, minting franchises such as NCAA Football, FIFA Soccer, NHL and NBA Live — all played by millions. He helped relaunch EASports.com and Tiger Woods PGA Tour Online. Chiang was a co-founder of Tiberon Entertainment along with John Schappert, current chief operating officer of EA. EA acquired Tiburon in 1998.