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Electronic Arts hires executive from Microsoft, which taps former EA exec as replacement

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – The executive who had been overseeing the Xbox video game division for Microsoft Corp. is defecting to Electronic Arts Inc., where he will oversee EA’s lucrative sports division.

Peter Moore, 52, had been vice president of interactive entertainment for Microsoft, responsible for Xbox and the software company’s Games for Windows businesses. Moore will switch to EA in September and report to EA CEO John Riccitiello.

”He’s the exact right guy to do the job,” Riccitiello said in a phone interview Tuesday with The Associated Press. Riccitiello, formerly an executive at Wilson Sporting Goods Co. who knew Moore when he was at Reebok International Ltd., said he’s wanted to recruit Moore for a decade.

”He was the toughest competitor we’ve ever seen,” Riccitiello said.

Another gaming executive is going in the other direction: Microsoft said Tuesday it hired EA veteran Don Mattrick to replace Moore. Mattrick will start at the end of July. Mattrick left his role as president of EA’s studios last year, after 15 years with the company.

Mattrick has worked as an adviser to Robbie Bach, head of Microsoft’s entertainment division, for the last several months. He’s helped Microsoft refine its strategy to connect music, video, video games and communications, Bach said.

EA’s newest hire comes as Riccitiello orchestrates a sweeping reorganization of the No. 1 video game publisher, which has struggled in recent quarters to deal with the industrywide disruptions caused by new gaming consoles. EA’s losses widened last quarter by 56 percent to $25 million, and revenue slid 4 percent to $613 million.

In February, CEO Larry Probst resigned and was replaced by Riccitiello, who first joined Redwood City-based EA in 1997, then rose to president and chief operating officer before leaving in 2004 to co-found a venture capital fund.

Riccitiello is rebuilding EA around four distinct business units, including sports, which will be headed by Moore. About one-third of EA revenue comes from sports titles; the company owns such lucrative franchises such as ”Madden NFL,” ”NBA Live,” ”Tiger Woods PGA Tour” and ”FIFA Soccer.”

While at Microsoft for the past four years, Moore helped launch the next-generation Xbox 360 console and sell 11.6 million units. He also helped develop Xbox Live, which connects 7 million gamers over the Internet. In an interview Tuesday, Bach called Moore the ”marketing brains” behind the launch of the wildly popular ”Halo 2” game.

EA’s stock rose $1.38, or 3 percent, to close at $49.47. Microsoft shares gained 75 cents to close at $30.78.

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