Knowing How to Market
"The kinds of products you create and how you reach out and promote them to the 'non-core gamer' is a whole different exercise in consumer understanding."
As president of Casual Entertainment at Electronic Arts, Kathy Vrabeck oversees the creation of new products that speak to customers who don't identify themselves as "gamers." A 1989 graduate of Kelley's MBA program, Vrabeck learned that communicating effectively is essential to a company's success.
The Game Guru
Kathy Vrabeck isn't a "serious gamer"—really.
Before her career as an executive at Activision and now Electronic Arts, Vrabeck's experience with video games was limited to childhood games of Pong on her family's Atari.
But Vrabeck, who received an MBA from Kelley in 1989, considered her outsider perspective one of her greatest attributes when she entered the industry in 1999.
"I think good marketers are objective and listen to the consumer," Vrabeck says. "Because I was a non-gamer when I entered the video game industry, I could listen to what consumers were saying and ask what they wanted without putting my own biases into what we needed to make or market."
At Electronic Arts, the world's largest developer and publisher of interactive entertainment software, Vrabeck is president of "casual entertainment"—the division of the company responsible for reaching and entertaining a broadly targeted segment of the population that includes everyone from middle-aged women playing an occasional game of online Scrabble to kids playing Harry Potter games on their cell phones.
Today's gaming industry is a much different place than the one Vrabeck entered in the late 1990s. "The thing I was able to do within gaming was to bring the consumer voice to the category. When I joined the industry, so much of what was being made was driven by guys who played games," she says. "Growing meant understanding what the mass consumer wanted and valued in video games and reaching them in a way that was effective."