EA’s John Riccitiello calls it quits

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Johnnyboy

EA’s been making a fair bit of money – but clearly just not enough. Its games have been selling well, but have failed to meet internal expectations. As a result, EA’s big boss, John Riccitiello, who’s been in charge since 2007, will be stepping down.

Riccitiello’s resignation is the result of the publisher’s failure to meet its quarterly financial targets, and he’ll no longer be EA’s chief as of the end of this month. He’ll be temporarily handing the reigns over to chairman of EA’s board, Larry Probst, who’ll sit in as head honcho until a suitable replacement has been found.

“We thank John for his contributions to EA since he was appointed CEO in 2007, especially the passion, dedication and energy he brought to the Company every single day,” Probst said in a statement.

“John has worked hard to lead the Company through challenging transitions in our industry, and was instrumental in driving our very significant growth in digital revenues. We appreciate John’s leadership and the many important strategic initiatives he has driven for the Company. We have mutually agreed that this is the right time for a leadership transition.”

Speaking less formally, Probst had some nice things to say about Riccitiello, who’s been guiding the EA ship through some nasty times.

“John’s tenure at EA has been marked by bold decisions, a big vision for online games, a passion for product quality and an enduring respect for the people who work here. John made an indelible mark on our culture and shaped many of our most successful leaders. We wish him the very best in whatever he decides to do next,” he said.

“EA’s strategy and future are rock solid. Our business is built on more than a dozen powerful, globally recognized brands. We are clear leaders in the fastest growing category in games – mobile – and we are positioned to lead on the next generation of consoles. Most importantly we have deep reserves of talent – new faces and industry veterans who form the core of EA’s leadership.”

I can’t say I’m terribly surprised. He’s presided over the company during some its biggest missteps to date, including the absolute disaster that is Star Wars: the Old Republic, Mass effect 3’s ending controversy, the proliferation of EA microtransactions and most recently, the disastrous SimCity launch.

He won’t end up in the poorhouse either – as he’ll still continue to receive a salary for the next 24 months, and will retain his stock options until the end of November this year. That’s your microtransactions at work, right there.

The question is, who’ll be replacing him? The most likely candidates right now are former Xbox champion Peter Moore and EA labels president Frank Gibeau; though if I had my way, I’d give the job to former THQ head Danny Bilson, who really, really tried to push core games at that publisher, before it buckled under the weight of some incredibly stupid decisions.

Now we just need Kotick to leave Activision, and the gaming world could be a better place.

Here’s Riccitiello’s resignation letter in full.

March 17, 2013
Mr. Larry Probst
Chairman Electronic Arts

 

Dear Larry,

 

I hereby offer my resignation as CEO of Electronic Arts effective with the end of our Fiscal Year 13 on March 30, 2013.

 

This is a tough decision, but it all comes down to accountability. The progress EA has made on transitioning to digital games and services is something I’m extremely proud of. However, it currently looks like we will come in at the low end of, or slightly below, the financial guidance we issued in January, and we have fallen short of the internal operating plan we set one year ago. EA’s shareholders and employees expect better and I am accountable for the miss.

 

I have been at the helm as EA’s CEO for six years and served as COO for nearly seven years starting in 1997. I know this company well, and I care deeply about its future success. I leave knowing EA is a great company, with an enormously talented group of leaders and the strongest slate of games in the industry. I could not be more proud of our company’s games, from Battlefield and FIFA, to The Simpsons: Tapped Out and Real Racing 3. We have built many great franchises that will serve the company well in FY14 and beyond. In particular, I am confident that the investments we have made in games for next-generation consoles will put EA in a strong leadership position for many years ahead.

 

In offering my resignation, my goal is to allow the talented leaders at EA a clean start on FY14. I look forward to working with you in the coming weeks on an effective leadership transition. I’m extremely honored to have led this company and proud to have worked with all the great people at Electronic Arts.

 

Sincerely,
John Riccitiello

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