"Sims" creator Will Wright leaving Electronic Arts

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Famed game designer Will Wright is leaving publisher Electronic Arts to focus on his own multimedia entertainment firm, the company said on Wednesday.

Game designer Will Wright speaks about his latest game SPORE at a promotion event in Singapore August 13, 2008. REUTERS/Tim Chong

Wright is the man behind the wildly popular “Sims” franchise of simulated reality games, as well as the more recent “Spore.” “The Sims” and its spin-offs, expansion packs and extensions have sold more than 100 million units worldwide.

Wright is leaving EA after 12 years and will turn his attention to Stupid Fun Club, an entertainment “think tank” developing content across a range of media, including video games, movies, television, the Internet, as well as toys.

EA is taking an equity stake in the venture, which Wright founded in 2001. Wright and EA will own an equal share and are the principal shareholders.

“The entertainment industry is moving rapidly into an era of revolutionary change,” Wright said in a statement. “Stupid Fun Club will explore new possibilities that are emerging from this sublime chaos and create new forms of entertainment on a variety of platforms.”

EA Chief Executive John Riccitiello said: “We believe in Will’s vision for Stupid Fun Club and we’re looking forward to partnering with Will and his team long into the future.”

An EA spokeswoman said there was no disagreement between the company and Wright.

“The way we see it is not all of Will’s concepts fit in with the EA business model for interactive entertained and Stupid Fun Club is an opportunity for Will to try new things and new formats.”

EA will maintain rights to develop games based on the company’s projects.

Wright created the original “Sims” games while at Maxis, the company he co-founded in 1989 and sold to EA in 1997. The game franchise lets players guide virtual people and cities.

Shares of Redwood City, California-based EA finished 2.4 percent higher at $19.62 by the close of regular trading Wednesday on Nasdaq.

Reporting by Gabriel Madway; Editing by Tim Dobbyn