"He understands how [videogames] can evolve as a form of entertainment beyond games," says John Aldrich, partner and account director at See, Electronic Arts' advertising agency in San Francisco.
At 35, Mr. Gibeau has spent his entire career at EA, starting as a product manager, and has initiated a number of industry firsts. They include the 1994 launch of arcade-style motorcycle racing game "Road Rash," which embraced the music tie-in by featuring tracks of alternative bands.
EA's "Madden NFL" series has hit $1 billion in sales. Other stars in EA's 100-game portfolio range from fantasy in "Lord of the Rings" and "Harry Potter" to World War II adventure game "Medal of Honor."
Mr. Gibeau credits EA's success with a fundamental strategy that tightly aligns marketing with game development. "The single thing that makes us unique is the ability to work with the studio in making great games," he says. In other organizations, "marketers and publicity organizations are second-class citizens."
Mr. Gibeau, closely monitoring trends before they make it to the mainstream, sensed the emergence of the "street" games subculture, and quickly developed the "NBA Street" franchise. The company's "Need for Speed Underground" product was developed before the rest of society discovered the "Tuner" car-racing culture, he says.
The biggest challenge remaining is the industry's move to interactive gaming, where EA already has stumbled once. "Interactive is the future," Mr. Gibeau says, "and a superior form of entertainment."