NBA Jam creator splits EA for Zynga; next stop, BasketballVille? [Rumor]

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Mark TurmellWith Zynga, anything is possible. Come on, it made a mini game called PrivacyVille. Kotaku reports that Mark Turmell (pictured), creator of the legendary NBA Jam series of arcade-style basketball games that were recently revisited on the Wii and other consoles, has left EA Sports and joined the creator of FarmVille. (However, no sources have been cited.) And considering his extensive track record with entertaining sports games with wide appeal, Zynga might intend on entering the sports genre with Turmell.

Turmell had been with EA Sports at its Tiburon studio since 2009 and also helped bring iconic games like the '90s arcade game Smash TV and NFL Blitz, another arcade-style sports game. Turmell was senior creative director at EA Tiburon in Orlando, Fla., and while his Linkedin profile has yet to be updated with the new position, his departure is official. "We appreciate Mark's contribution to Tiburon and EA Sports and wish him well in future endeavors," an EA spokesman told Kotaku.

A number of EA employees have reportedly left the company in recent months for ventures in social gaming. Former EA CCO John Schappert has left the company for Zynga, and former EA CCO Bing Gordon has invested in the monolithic company. Ben Cousins of EA's free-to-play developer Easy Studios left the company for Ngmoco's (owned by Japanese gaming giant DeNA) new Sweden studio.

Amidst rampant departures, EA runs headstrong into the social games world and is making huge strides to compete--the company bought Bejeweled developer PopCap for a whopping potential $1.3 billion recently. However, it will be interesting to see if these talent losses affect EA's ability to go toe-to-toe with Zynga, but with an entire company's worth of talent now, we'd say it has a pretty solid shot at the big time. We've contacted Zynga for comment.

[Via GameSpot]

What do you think Turmell could bring to Zynga? Will EA's PopCap buy make up for the loss of a few key players? Sound off in the comments. Add Comment.
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