XBLAâ??s first General Manager and PopCap VP Greg Canessa is set to join the World of Warcraft studio

Blizzard taps casual game maestro from PopCap

Casual games guru Greg Canessa is leaving his post at PopCap to join Blizzard.

Prior to heading up PopCap as Vice President of Video Game Platforms, Canessa was the man who successfully established the business model for Microsoft’s XBLA service. He left Microsoft to join PopCap in February 2007, and is now moving on again to join the World of Warcraft studio.

Blizzard’s enthusiasm for casual games has been more pronounced in recent months. Only weeks ago it was announced that the popular PopCap title Peggle would be spliced into World of Warcraft games and offer players some casual respite between odysseys. Last September, Blizzard announced that PopCap’s other crown jewel, Bejeweled, would be available to WOW players free of charge.

But it is perhaps the hiring of Canessa that will be Blizzard’s most high-profile move to exploit the casual game market.

News of Canessa’s move first broke on news site Kotaku, while soon after a PopCap representative confirmed the move to Joystiq.

“We are sorry to see him go and we wish him the very best. It’s been a pleasure working with him and his move is largely predicated on it being a big personal and professional opportunity for him,” said a PopCap spokesperson, who added that his departure will not affect the company’s strategy.

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