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Kathy Vrabeck steps down as president of EA's casual games unit

November 6, 2008 |  5:40 pm

Kathy Vrabeck Video game powerhouse Electronic Arts confirmed this afternoon that Kathy Vrabeck, president of the company's Casual Entertainment Label, had resigned "for personal reasons."

Vrabeck, one of the highest-ranking female executives in an industry dominated by men, was previously president of publishing for Activision, EA's Santa Monica-based rival. EA President John Riccitiello handpicked Vrabeck in June 2007, shortly after he took the company's helm, to help him reinvigorate the stalwart game publisher.

EA did not disclose further reasons for her departure, which was announced internally at the company Wednesday. Vrabeck, a 45-year-old Newport Coast resident, could not be reached for comment.

EA spokeswoman Trudy Muller also confirmed that the Redwood City, Calif., publisher planned to consolidate the casual games label with its Sims label as a result of Vrabeck's departure. Rod Humble, who heads the Sims Studio, has been appointed president of both divisions, effective immediately.

"Her departure provided us with the opportunity to take what we’ve learned over the past 18 months about casual games and apply it to a stronger, more efficient and more creative structure," Muller said. "We learned that there are a lot of similarities between the two labels in terms of marketing, product design and user demographics. They naturally complement each other."

Under Vrabeck, the casual games division included the company's mobile titles, online sites such as Pogo and games produced under its licenses with Hasbro and others, including the Harry Potter brand. Not all of those businesses will fall under the new Sims Casual Label. "At this time, we are evaluating the right place within EA for growth initiatives such as Pogo, Casual Online and EA Mobile," Muller said.

Vrabeck's resignation comes on the heels of an announcement last week that the publisher would cut 500 to 600 jobs, or about 6% of its workforce, to save $50 million a year.   

-- Alex Pham

Photo: Kathy Vrabeck. Credit: Electronic Arts