When EA spent $400 million on social gaming company Playfish, the hope was that it would be able to compete with Zynga.Well, almost three years later, it’s clear that didn’t happen. The acquisition hasn’t yielded much.
To salvage the $400 million deal, EA is putting Catharina Mallet in charge of producing a new “AAA title,” according to industry sources. This new game is being called a “hail mary” attempt by EA to make a dent in the hyper-competitive social gaming space.
She joined EA’s social gaming studio Playfish in December of 2010, and quickly started flying through the ranks. She served as producer of The Sims Social at one point.
Sims Social was a hot property for EA but wasn’t able to sustain a high number of daily active users. Most recently, The Sims Social had 2.7 million daily active users, compared to CityVille’s 6 million daily active users, according to AppData.
This brand new project seems more important than Sim City for Facebook, a project sources tell us EA has been working on for several years. It’s been kept under heavy wraps.
Who is Mallet? Can she lead a team that will finally take on Zynga?
To find out, whe spoke with a few people familiar with her, all of whom asked to remain anonymous. Here’s what we learned:
- She’s very well educated. She went to Harvard, and then to business school at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan school of Business.
- She has a heavy background in risk management and analytics, according to her LinkedIn profile. She spent time at Fidelity International, Algorithmics and Fitch Risk Management. Having a heavy analytics background is useful in social games because it helps you monetise games better.
- She’s “smart,” “awesome,” and has some experience as a product manager. She was product manager for Pet Society, which at one point reached top-10 status on Facebook.
- She’s was promoted to executive producer when Playfish gave out a ton of raises after The Sims Social launched. They handed out a ton of promotions because other mobile companies and startups were offering huge, competitive salaries, a source told us. One industry source said a competing offer was 45 per cent higher than the salary at Playfish.
- She’s “never produced anything in her life,” one source tells us. Producing the “Hail Mary” game will be her first gig as an executive producer — and one source said this might not have been the smartest move given some of the other talent available at Playfish. One option would be Tom Mapham, executive producer on The Sims Social, a source said.
We reached out to Electronic Arts for comment, but had not hear back at time of publish.