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Another Xbox chief leaves for EA

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It's becoming more and more plausible that Electronic Arts and Microsoft's Xbox unit intend to keep swapping executives until they run each other's companies.

The latest round of chieftain interchanging involves John Schappert, Microsoft corporate veep of Live, Software, and Service. The job put him in charge of Redmond's console software, Xbox Live, and Games for Windows — but he's also been doing the keynote circuit lately, most notably for Microsoft's E3 showing last month.

Today, Microsoft announced Schappert is packing his bags to return to EA as chief operations officer. He follows Xbox division chief Peter Moore leaving for EA in 2007, who was replaced by EA's game studio chief Don Mattrick.

As EA's new COO, Schappert will take charge of the game maker's worldwide publishing, the online platform group, EA interactive, and central development services. He will replace John Pleasants, who is leaving to become the CEO of MySpace game developer, Playdom.

Schappert founded the game development studio Tiburon in 1994 before selling the Florida-based business to EA four years later and acceding up the corporate totem pole. In 2007, Schappert jumped over to Microsoft's Xbox unit where he oversaw the expansion of Xbox Live and the introduction of the console's New Xbox Experience makeover.

"After nearly two decades working in or around this company, I've got EA in my blood," Schappert said in a statement. "This is a team that is intensely focused on quality and innovation."

He leaves Microsoft just after keynoting at the E3 expo, where the company debuted its motion-control add-on for Xbox, Project Natal. (And his avatar didn't even wave goodbye).

Schappert will get a $1m bonus for his return to EA, according to the company's regulatory filing.

Microsoft apparently doesn't plan on replacing Schapert when he begins his new job July 14. Instead, the executives directly under him, Marc Whitten and Phil Spencer, will lead their respective businesses, Live Services and Microsoft Game Studios, and report directly to Mattrick. ®

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