EA’s John Riccitiello calls it quits

6 min read


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.

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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.

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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.


John Riccitiello

Last Updated: March 19, 2013

  • Admiral Chief Erwin

    Damn, I’d like to get a free salary for 24months

    • FoxOneZA


      • Admiral Chief Erwin

        For two years…hehehe

      • Sir Rants-a-Lot Llew

        When the EA turns it’s back on you, you turn your back on the EA


        *Breaks out in song*

    • Sir Captain Rincethis

      Join government…

      • Admiral Chief Erwin

        Heh, there its PERMANENT free salary, plus perks, and sleepy meetings, and BIG BEEMA’s and food

        • Sir Captain Rincethis

          Just don’t aim for the board of directors of any youth leagues 😉

          • Admiral Chief Erwin

            XD, so very true.

  • Sir Rants-a-Lot Llew

    Not as great as you thought huh?

    So let’s see. EA has been doing well and meeting financial requirements for years. Now suddenly in the last few it hasn’t. Let’s see… What changed?

    1) Always online DRM? Mmmm no surely that wouldn’t cause loss of revenue would it? Not with it reducing the potential player base but also the cost of running those servers? NO NEVER!
    2) Poor single player experiances? No surely that wouldn’t cause revenue loss due to loss of sales>
    3) Ridiculously complex DRM requirements with the likes of Origin etc? Nah! Never would that cause further loss of potential sales due to shrinking your player base (again!)
    4) Micro-transactions. Woah, never would that cause an issue. Not with the maintenance cost, labour and other such overheads to keep it all working and the support needed when that horse armour fails to link to your account. Or the fact that there are people who won’t buy games with MTs in them simply because they don’t believe in purchasing half a game at full price only to have to purchase more just to get the full game at now double the price.

    Sjoe, I don’t get it. Why would EA not be meeting financial requirements?

  • Deon Steyn

    Riccitiello was also responsible for Medal of honor Warfighter. What a piece a crap that was.

    I say don’t fire Riccitiello, make him head of quality and stability testing for all their games. Then every time a patch or update to fix a bug needs to be released he takes a pay cut.

    • Deon Steyn

      Plus look at that adorable face, kinda like a dog who pooped in his owners slippers. He knows he f***ed up.

      • Sir Captain Rincethis

        Nice 😉

  • CALeGrange

    The THQ CEO is a pretty good suggestion…I know Riccitielo didn’t have many fans in the gaming world, but I didn’t think he was the worst…. That being said, those are some big shoes to fill, given, this guy needs to figure out where the Origin store is going, where all the franchises will end up. It’s not a easy task for any publishing companys’ CEO, but EA specifically..sheesh…Al i’m saying is; good luck to his successor!

  • What I find amazing is that EA didn’t meet financial expectations….yet they making so much money….sheesh

  • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

    As I posted on twitter:

    Banana Jim [email protected]
    If you’d like to find out more about John Riccitiello and whether he’ll open a bee farm: additional story DLC coming soon for $19.99 #EA

    Now if only Hanoi Hannah over at Maxis can step down. Her PR for ShamShitty is getting tiresome.

    • AndriyP

      Legendary Jim strikes again!

    • HvR

      a dammit only saw now that you beat me to it ….*tip my hat*

    • HvR

      gotta love the Hanoi Hannah remark, maybe she should change her strategy from “you gonna die if you not play solja boi” to “play and saki saki 10 dolla”

  • OVG

    It looks like Jim Sterling is going to have to hit Photoshop again :p

    • Sir Rants-a-Lot Llew


    • Sir Captain Rincethis

      Haha! Very good sir! Expect a disclosure from Sterling for copywrite infringement…

  • Darth_Clericus_The_Ultimate

    Are you guys kidding me?
    Do you think its actually going to get BETTER now that he is leaving? People, he is leaving because they DIDNT make enough money……While I can understand the bad decision in terms of leadership (ME3 ending, SW:TOR), this is not going to stop microtransactions AT ALL. If fact this might become even worse. Also, one man does not make all the major decisions, he just signs off on them.
    Personally, I think this is a huge crossroads for EA. If they keep focusing on the money aspect, this will just get worse. They are a gaming company and need to focus on what GAMERS ACTUALLY WANT. Open Dialogue with the communites and fans EA, it will only strenghten your business.

    • Sir Rants-a-Lot Llew

      We can hope it will. We can hope the next guy/gal who get’s to sign off on decisions decides not to and to try push for different avenues.

      Either way, it’s both good and bad for gamers. Bad because the industry is going to collapse in on itself and our hobby along with it.

      Good because after said crash developers will need to refocus on making good games to try and climb the rungs to success again. And since there won’t be enough funds for budgets big enough to feed the entire African continent they would need to focus on core gameplay and not so much flashy effects and graphics.

    • Sir Captain Rincethis

      Perhaps his predecessor will come up with new money-making-efforts. I was thinking they can release their own controller, with a coin slot in? Or, you have to buy EA electricity points, or, when you are playing your game, EA can interrupt you, and force you to give the details of family members who can pay for your games hijacked state. Just some thoughts… I agree though, this is NOT going to get better. If EA didn’t make money this Q, they are either blowing it on tons of cocaine, or pigmey hookers,

    • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

      I definitely don’t see anything changing, the next guy will be another MBA suit, and the cycle of fan exploitation will continue.

    • HvR

      I just had the most brilliant gaming idea for EA ….. make a good original game that is properly written and not broken.

  • HvR

    Actuallysurprised the resignation letter isn’t a $2 DLC.

  • Neji

    Well maybe now EA will stop been full of crap and be friends with Steam again…

  • Scoobaz

    Ja fully, Didn’t see that one hey? LOL. After the debacle of SimCity online nonsense. That was the straw that broke the camel’s back. In a way I hope this is a sign of the industry imploding and I hope then that the love for making games that gamers want will once again be the norm. Like when we were growing up. This mega conglomerate POV within the industry has to stop, somehow. Otherwise ladies and gentlemen, one of our favourite past times just might die. Hell, when did it become an INDUSRTY…

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