EA’s Laura Miele, Most Powerful Woman in Gaming, Moves Up to COO
(Bloomberg) -- Electronic Arts Inc. appointed longtime executive Laura Miele as its new chief operating officer, a revamp of leadership that marks a big promotion for the most powerful woman in video games.
Miele, 52, moves from her role as head of the company’s studios for the last three years, EA said Thursday in a blog post. The maker of games such as Madden NFL, FIFA 21 and Battlefield said the promotion will be effective later this year. Blake Jorgensen, who served as the company’s COO and chief financial officer, is leaving around mid-2022.
Chief Executive Officer Andrew Wilson is reorganizing his top management ranks as the gaming industry undergoes yet another major shift -- one that intersects with the much-larger potential of social interaction.
“Games are meaningful to us even when we are not playing, and we have tremendous opportunities to engage players beyond the boundaries of the traditional game experience,” Wilson wrote in the blog post.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, many people began to socialize more within games, leading to the idea of a metaverse -- a 3D virtual world in which players represented by avatars can interact, go to concerts and parties, and even shop together.
Established game makers like EA, with sales of $5.63 billion in the last fiscal year, increasingly face competition from metaverse-centered companies like Epic Games Inc. and Roblox Corp., which went public earlier this year and offers products built around social experiences.
The metaverse market could approach $800 billion globally by 2024, according to Bloomberg Intelligence. That’s more than quadruple the $177.8 billion the video games business generated in 2020, per researcher Newzoo.
Miele’s promotion sends a message at a moment when the video-game industry is facing an uprising against its sexist culture. Larger rival Activision Blizzard Inc. is facing litigation over its bro culture and alleged sexual harassment of women.
Miele, who never graduated from college, has spent about two decades at Redwood City, California-based EA.
She started her career at an architectural firm, and then ended up interviewing with a gaming studio that was eventually purchased by EA. At EA, she has overseen everything from Star Wars games to global publishing.
Most recently, she led more than 20 game studios, overseeing personnel decisions and setting strategy. She’s also helped shepherd and integrate a slew of acquisitions, including mobile-games maker Glu Mobile for $2.1 billion earlier this year. Mobile play is a huge market, expected to reach $90.7 billion this year, and to grow to $116.4 billion by 2024, according to Newzoo.
Under Miele, EA has been working to revive some beloved titles and to put out new games in popular genres, such as skateboarding, which players have long craved.
Shares of EA, while little changed this year, have outperformed those of established rivals in console games, including Activision and Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. The company’s much-anticipated Battlefield 2042 game is being delayed to November. Many expected it to debut in early fall.
EA raised its outlook in August -- guidance that didn’t include sales of the upcoming Battlefield game or the recent $1.4 billion acquisition of Playdemic, maker of the Golf Clash mobile game.
As part of the change, EA appointed marketing executive Chris Bruzzo as its chief experience officer, to build deep social experiences in and around games. It will also seek a successor to Jorgensen as CFO.
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