Electronic Arts has confirmed today that current CEO John Riccitiello will be stepping down both as Chief Executive Officer and as a member of the Board of Directors. This action goes into effect at the end of this month, on March 30. Could it be that SimCity was the last straw for EA’s investors?
Riccitiello will be replaced by Larry Probst “to ensure a smooth transition” and lead Electronic Arts’ executive team as the company searches for a permanent replacement CEO. Internal and external candidates are being considered, EA said in a release. Probst previously served as CEO of EA from 1997-2007 and has served as Chairman of the Board from as far back as 1994.
“EA is an outstanding company with creative and talented employees, and it has been an honor to serve as the Company’s CEO,” said Riccitiello in an official statement. “I am proud of what we have accomplished together, and after six years I feel it is the right time for me pass the baton and let new leadership take the Company into its next phase of innovation and growth. I remain very optimistic about EA’s future — there is a world class team driving the Company’s transition to the next generation of game consoles.”
This is a developing story, and thus details are currently scarce. For now, I have nothing more to say, except of course that I told you so.
UPDATE: Mr. Riccitiello’s resignation letter is as follows, courtesy of Polygon:
March 17, 2013
Mr. Larry Probst
Chairman Electronic Arts
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.
Probst took to EA’s The Beat blog to speak briefly about Riccitiello’s time at EA, describing it as a period that ”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.”
“Looking ahead, EA’s strategy and future are rock solid,” Probst wrote. “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. We have an important year ahead of us and I look forward to working with all of you as we navigate the path to future success!”