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You Won't Have John Riccitiello to Kick Around Anymore

EA's beleaguered CEO has stepped down from the company.

The now former EA CEO John Riccitiello.

Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello has stepped down from his role in the company, the publisher announced today.

In his place, current board chairman and former CEO Larry Probst has stepped up to man the company as the board searches for Riccitiello's replacement.

The announcement came in the form of a press release (which can be read in full here) in which Probst thanked Riccitiello for his efforts, but stated that the two "mutually agreed that this is the right time for a leadership transition."

Riccitiello's departure is an intriguing, but not unexpected one. The now former CEO had come under some scrutiny after several big budget EA projects--including the $200 million sinkhole that was Star Wars: The Old Republic--failed to meet expectations.

We've reached out for further comment from EA. We'll update this story if/when more becomes available.

Here's his full resignation letter, per an SEC filing:

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,

/s/ John Riccitiello

John Riccitiello

Alex Navarro on Google+
270 Comments
Posted by Darkstorn

People don't realize how much CEOs and COOs have to defer to boards of directors and other interests in decisionmaking. I doubt this will change how the company operates much, but EA needs a progressive replacement to at least try to avoid stagnation.

Posted by R3DT1D3

People love to hate on Johnny R., but do you remember how fucking abysmal EA was before he came on board? Cause I sure as hell do.

He gave us Dead Space, Dragon Age, Mass Effect and BF Bad Company 2. I, for one, will miss you John.

Along the same lines, people get so caught up in recent failures and the snowballing of EA's PR disasters and don't look at the positives that were at least attempted early in his tenure. I give him credit for being at the helm when SOME good decisions were made unlike some other CEO's...

Posted by YukoAsho

I'm glad to see him go. He immediately abandonned any pretense of supporting gamers when Mirror's Edge didn't set the world on fire, and went right back to the developer-killing ways of the 90s with Pandemic and Bioware. They do nothing to bolster their own development, and their PR has been a nightmare for nearly the entirety of his run. At least Activision has learned to muzzle Bobby over the last year and change.

@jimbo said:

@gasparnolasco said:

Wait... So that voting with your wallet thing worked!?

I guess. SWTOR, DA2, ME3, SimCity was a pretty bad streak of embarassing messes. They'll only have FIFA left if they carry on the way they're going.

The two Medal of Honor games were also below expectations. Honestly, EA owes FIFA and the NFL its very existence, because they have nothing else to offer anymore.

Edited by big_jon

If this is the man responsible for all the recent EA games being pushed toward watered down garbage, I'm glad to see him go. Put Peter more in charge.

Edited by cooljammer00

So they obviously know that the resignation letter is getting leaked, right? Or do CEOs normally name drop product franchises as they are being forced out?

Online
Posted by Keen_12

I never kicked him around, just polite jabs.

Edited by Kosayn

You know, Dead Space, Dragon Age, Simcity, Old Republic are all franchises that I felt DID merit sequels, and were definitely worth trying to innovate on. But what they decided on were completely risky and bizarre forms of innovation. Single Player oriented MMO? Multiplayer oriented God sim? Co-op horror game? I'd love to have seen those things work, but I wouldn't bet the farm on them. Gutsy choices like that need really hard work, and probably more original IP, to turn out positively.

If you ask me, I'd say lean hard into Dead Space's dialogue writing if you wanted to improve it; even Dead Space 1 is not outstanding in that regard. The rest of the original model was fundamentally sound horror design.

I'd say they should have built a new kind of engine that could handle proper Xwing / Tie Fighter flight sim stuff online if they were trying to make an innovative Star Wars MMO, people still deeply revere that series and nothing else has picked up the Wing Commander torch in over a decade; it's starving for innovation.

I'd say Simcity designers should have been very careful about making sure really bad gameplay results can in fact happen, and the player would gradually be led to understand more and more about why they happened, that way ensuring that the gameplay lasts. As is, people usually have no idea if bugs or their choices are why their city is what it is.

But what do I know about game design?

I think it's hard to keep making games that specifically contain lightning in a bottle, no matter how big a publisher gets. Square had it and lost it too. The really good games have something extra beyond just being well crafted - I think it's about providing what the audience doesn't know it really wants yet.

Hope EA will cut losses and push newer franchises to the top of the pile following this.

Edited by probablytuna

Smell ya later.

Edited by Generic_username
Posted by Lind_L_Taylor

Pissed away $200 million on Star Wars...BUHAHAHAHH...Man, what a laugh.
I bet Disney will do the same thing. Somehow they will try to make their
Star Wars and it'll just be complete shit. One of these days people will just
be so sick of Star Wars that the utterance of the words in public will turn you
into an outcast.

Edited by KaneRobot

I stopped buying EA games while this guy was at the helm. Wonder if the next guy can change things enough to bring me back.

That letter looks more like a press release.

Posted by Gildermershina

Dude made some gutsy moves, some paid off, some did not. And there was a real bad run of fuck ups over the last couple of years, which he is accountable for though they were not his fault.

This is what TOR does to a company. MMOs seem to be like the Guitar Hero/Rock Band thing. For a while it was all anyone was talking about. Then there was over-saturation and now nobody wants any more MMOs. Meanwhile it takes so long to develop one that at some point it's too late to stop development. It's pretty hard to imagine The Elder Scrolls Online having a happy outcome for Bethesda. And all those young developers who've spent their whole careers developing that one game for so long... I feel sorry for everyone involved.

Posted by Jackel2072

this is not much of a shock, but i salute the man for trying! Dead Space, Mass Effect, Mirrors Edge. He did go out and get some great talent to work for EA back in the day. and even though EA is slowly falling back into its old ways (you think EA is bad now? piff go look at them back during the PS2 era) i dont blame Riccitello for all of EA's faults. The company really fucking tried to be a game company for the enthusiast crowd... and it didnt work. EA has the curse of being the company that was formally number 1 in the video games industry and it's share holders have been trying to reclaim that position for a while now and alienating its consumers in the process.

Edited by Chris2KLee

That he lasted this long has always amazed me.

Edited by Chtasm

RIP John Rigatoniraviolipastabene

Posted by dr_mantas

this is not much of a shock, but i salute the man for trying! Dead Space, Mass Effect, Mirrors Edge. He did go out and get some great talent to work for EA back in the day. and even though EA is slowly falling back into its old ways (you think EA is bad now? piff go look at them back during the PS2 era) i dont blame Riccitello for all of EA's faults. The company really fucking tried to be a game company for the enthusiast crowd... and it didnt work. EA has the curse of being the company that was formally number 1 in the video games industry and it's share holders have been trying to reclaim that position for a while now and alienating its consumers in the process.

I was going to write the same thing, but thanks for writing it for me!

When EA was making interesting new games for hardcore gamers, no one bought them. Even the huge return to form for PC RPGs that Dragon Age was sold better on the Xbox 360. Seriously!

I can't really blame EA and Riccitello for trying to make money any which way.

Edited by Spiritof

@beomoose said:

@abdo said:

RIP

Oh. My. God.

Flawless Victory.

I was about half way thru this song when it hit me that Chris Remo was the guy singing, and then...

Posted by Xbox420

The fall of EA is glorious to watch.

Posted by Cold_Wolven

Looking at the GB wiki on Larry Probst's history it seems to be a tennis match between him and Riccitiello for who becomes CEO.

Posted by TPoppaPuff

@jimbo: ME3's ending was bad. The rest of that game was better than pretty much better than everything else out last year with a small handful of exceptions, none of which were in the shooter or rpg genre. I mean The Walking Dead was barely a game (but an absolute must play) and X-Com which honestly benefitted from the entire genre going on hiatus for about a good decade plus (or at least felt like it). After that, what? You can make arguments for Far Cry 3 and Journey but I wouldn't say they are necessarily better, maybe just as good.

Posted by mordukai

@efesell said:

@enigma777 said:

@generiko said:

@enigma777 said:

People love to hate on Johnny R., but do you remember how fucking abysmal EA was before he came on board? Cause I sure as hell do.

He gave us Dead Space, Dragon Age, Mass Effect and BF Bad Company 2. I, for one, will miss you John.

Mass Effect wasn't made by EA, it wasn't even funded by them.

But 2+3 were. When I say ME or DA, I mean the whole franchise.

And then they were kind of responsible for knocking the wind out of DA2 with the dev cycle given.

I mean I still really liked it, but it was not the product it should have been.

So I guess by @enigma777 logic, James Washington Carver invented the peanut butter, right.

DA was in development since 2004. You wanna credit him with the garbage that is DA2, go ahead.

Dead Space was probably already underway in some form or the other when he came in. Now Mass Effect was pretty much the reason they bought Bioware so they could franchise Mass Effect, so sorry no credit here.

Now how in hell are you gonna give him the BF3 credit?! Again a game in a long standing franchise. BF3 would have been made even if Daffy Duck would have the CEO.

Now, I'm not gonna be all hating on him because I actually liked what he did with EA's Partners program, even though that kinda backfired, but don't give him credit when he shouldn't get it.

Edited by Enigma777

@mordukai said:

@efesell said:

@enigma777 said:

@generiko said:

@enigma777 said:

People love to hate on Johnny R., but do you remember how fucking abysmal EA was before he came on board? Cause I sure as hell do.

He gave us Dead Space, Dragon Age, Mass Effect and BF Bad Company 2. I, for one, will miss you John.

Mass Effect wasn't made by EA, it wasn't even funded by them.

But 2+3 were. When I say ME or DA, I mean the whole franchise.

And then they were kind of responsible for knocking the wind out of DA2 with the dev cycle given.

I mean I still really liked it, but it was not the product it should have been.

So I guess by @enigma777 logic, James Washington Carver invented the peanut butter, right.

DA was in development since 2004. You wanna credit him with the garbage that is DA2, go ahead.

Dead Space was probably already underway in some form or the other when he came in. Now Mass Effect was pretty much the reason they bought Bioware so they could franchise Mass Effect, so sorry no credit here.

Now how in hell are you gonna give him the BF3 credit?! Again a game in a long standing franchise. BF3 would have been made even if Daffy Duck would have the CEO.

Now, I'm not gonna be all hating on him because I actually liked what he did with EA's Partners program, even though that kinda backfired, but don't give him credit when he shouldn't get it.

Let me break down the "enigma777 logic" since you obviously can't grasp it. I GIVE HIM CREDIT FOR EVERY SINGLE GAME THAT CAME OUT UNDER HIS WATCH. Capiche?

It doesn't matter if he initiated the projects or not. He saw them all through. And don't give me bullshit like "any CEO would have done this or that in his place!" That's a complete load of crap and you know it.

A good man lost his job today. You disagree? Well, I literally and figuratively DGAF!

Edited by mordukai

@mordukai said:

@efesell said:

@enigma777 said:

@generiko said:

@enigma777 said:

People love to hate on Johnny R., but do you remember how fucking abysmal EA was before he came on board? Cause I sure as hell do.

He gave us Dead Space, Dragon Age, Mass Effect and BF Bad Company 2. I, for one, will miss you John.

Mass Effect wasn't made by EA, it wasn't even funded by them.

But 2+3 were. When I say ME or DA, I mean the whole franchise.

And then they were kind of responsible for knocking the wind out of DA2 with the dev cycle given.

I mean I still really liked it, but it was not the product it should have been.

So I guess by @enigma777 logic, James Washington Carver invented the peanut butter, right.

DA was in development since 2004. You wanna credit him with the garbage that is DA2, go ahead.

Dead Space was probably already underway in some form or the other when he came in. Now Mass Effect was pretty much the reason they bought Bioware so they could franchise Mass Effect, so sorry no credit here.

Now how in hell are you gonna give him the BF3 credit?! Again a game in a long standing franchise. BF3 would have been made even if Daffy Duck would have the CEO.

Now, I'm not gonna be all hating on him because I actually liked what he did with EA's Partners program, even though that kinda backfired, but don't give him credit when he shouldn't get it.

Let me break down the "enigma77 logic" since you obviously can't grasp it. I GIVE HIM CREDIT FOR EVERY SINGLE GAME THAT CAME OUT UNDER HIS WATCH. Capiche?

It doesn't matter if he initiated the projects or not. He saw them all through. And don't give me bullshit like "any CEO would have done this or that in his place!" That's a complete load of crap and you know it.

A good man lost his job today. You disagree? Well, I literally and figuratively don't give a shit!

Yup. Your logic is just that, your. I do have to admit though that your Colbert look of the world is amusing.

Edited by DukesT3

Pour one out.

Edited by amardilo

Will be interesting to see what John Riccitiello does next. He seems to know a lot about gaming with having worked at EA for so long and having invested in studios like BioWare. I hope he stays in the games industry.

I also hope EA get someone who is more of a gamer than a business/sales person in.

Posted by Legion_

Say what you will about John Riccitello, but he led the strongest push in new IP's this whole generation. He tried putting out new IP's that weren't just first person shooters, and gamers thanked him by not buying those games (Mirror's Edge and Dead Space spesifically).

Can't blame the man for pushing sequels when people obviously don't want original IP's.

Edited by Legion_

@yukoasho said:

I'm glad to see him go. He immediately abandonned any pretense of supporting gamers when Mirror's Edge didn't set the world on fire, and went right back to the developer-killing ways of the 90s with Pandemic and Bioware. They do nothing to bolster their own development, and their PR has been a nightmare for nearly the entirety of his run. At least Activision has learned to muzzle Bobby over the last year and change.

@jimbo said:

@gasparnolasco said:

Wait... So that voting with your wallet thing worked!?

I guess. SWTOR, DA2, ME3, SimCity was a pretty bad streak of embarassing messes. They'll only have FIFA left if they carry on the way they're going.

The two Medal of Honor games were also below expectations. Honestly, EA owes FIFA and the NFL its very existence, because they have nothing else to offer anymore.

Weird, because here I was thinking that they have one of the biggest shooter franchises in the world. Oh, and I guess all that Sims money doesn't count either.

Riccitello has a unfair reputation. Under his leadership, we saw tons of new IP released. Mirror's Edge, Dead Space, Dante's Inferno, Army of Two, Boom Blox, Brütal Legend, Bulletstorm, Create, Crysis, Dragon Age, FaceBreaker, Kingdoms of Amalur, The Saboteur, Shank, Skate and Spore, and that's just naming the biggest.

On top of that, he greenlit tons of weird sequels, like Alice: Madness Returns. And he of course was a driving force behind some of the best sequels in older franchises, like Need for Speed.

It's easy to make someone out to be a villain when you don't know anything about the man or his work. It's a shame his legacy will be ruined by guys like you.

Posted by Fram

@chtasm said:

RIP John Rigatoniraviolipastabene

This made me laugh more than I'd like to admit.

Posted by mancopter

I'm glad he's gone. Heartless? Maybe. Whatever. I'm glad he's gone.

The replacement (my money is on Peter Moore) will be just as UGH, but I am curious to see how it all turns out.

Posted by dvorak

Every CEO gets forced out at some point in their career. Or you know, like five times.

Posted by Jedted

Too bad Dr. Ray isn't with the company anymore, I always dreamed of him rising up to become the new EA Overlord. He probably could have even changed EA's public image.

Posted by EvilNiGHTS

@legion_ said:

@yukoasho said:

I'm glad to see him go. He immediately abandonned any pretense of supporting gamers when Mirror's Edge didn't set the world on fire, and went right back to the developer-killing ways of the 90s with Pandemic and Bioware. They do nothing to bolster their own development, and their PR has been a nightmare for nearly the entirety of his run. At least Activision has learned to muzzle Bobby over the last year and change.

@jimbo said:

@gasparnolasco said:

Wait... So that voting with your wallet thing worked!?

I guess. SWTOR, DA2, ME3, SimCity was a pretty bad streak of embarassing messes. They'll only have FIFA left if they carry on the way they're going.

The two Medal of Honor games were also below expectations. Honestly, EA owes FIFA and the NFL its very existence, because they have nothing else to offer anymore.

Weird, because here I was thinking that they have one of the biggest shooter franchises in the world. Oh, and I guess all that Sims money doesn't count either.

Riccitello has a unfair reputation. Under his leadership, we saw tons of new IP released. Mirror's Edge, Dead Space, Dante's Inferno, Army of Two, Boom Blox, Brütal Legend, Bulletstorm, Create, Crysis, Dragon Age, FaceBreaker, Kingdoms of Amalur, The Saboteur, Shank, Skate and Spore, and that's just naming the biggest.

On top of that, he greenlit tons of weird sequels, like Alice: Madness Returns. And he of course was a driving force behind some of the best sequels in older franchises, like Need for Speed.

It's easy to make someone out to be a villain when you don't know anything about the man or his work. It's a shame his legacy will be ruined by guys like you.

This. Honestly couldn't have put it better myself. Anyone thinking Riccitiello's departure will usher in a new golden age of innovation and creativity for EA needs to have their head examined.

Edited by Nekroskop

Good riddance John Ravioli..

Posted by Vash108

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

Posted by Frostmane

@legion_: If Dr Ray was actually interested in the job (I have a feeling he has no interest whatsoever) I'm sure that the job could be his. I actually don't think that the next CEO will come from the internal structure. Right now the board will be looking for someone with a dynamic image and some ideas for changing the company's image; they won't find significant change from an internal search so will look externally (I hope).

Posted by Vash108

Thank you for Dead Space Mr. Riccitiello. It was one of the best things to come out of EA in a long time.

Mirror's Edge

Edited by Nardak

Riccitiello is only probably the tip of the iceberg. EA along with Activision has an attitude towards its customers that could be classified as somewhat anti-consumerist.

Peter Moore would be my choiche for the new EA CEO.

Edited by Inquisitor

You cut one head of the Hydra and another will take its place.

Edited by ELincoln

Shrug. Not sad to see him go, doubt anything will change. Funny that apologists are blathering about new IPs? Bashing EA for lack of creativity is so 10 years ago guys. The current thing is their monstrously anticonsumer, squeeze every dollar to please stockholders damn the impact on the actual quality of game experience attitude. Never cared about the old thing, I actually like sequels, but pretty mad about the new thing, personally.

Edited by Landmine

The guy catches a lot of flak for the missteps and almost no credit for the good things (although, when things aren't going well, the guy at the top has to fall on the sword and be villainized regardless of the circumstances). EA is a very large corporation with many moving parts, shareholders to keep happy, board members who may not always see eye to eye, and a passionate yet very hard to please customer base. I believe he had his customers in mind with the direction he tried to push the company (spearheading EA's original IP initiative is the first thing that comes to mind), on one hand it was to drive revenue but on the other it was to give us what we were all asking for (thus, hopefully, achieving the companies revenue and growth goals). This did result in quite a few very fun games, some of which are among my favorites of this console generation. Unfortunately it didn't quite work out the way he envisioned it would, and in the end, the company exists to make money. The people rejoicing in what they deem to be someone's failures doesn't make sense to me, you vote with your dollars, so you seem to have gotten what you wanted. Right?

Posted by FierceDeity

@mordukai said:

@efesell said:

@enigma777 said:

@generiko said:

@enigma777 said:

People love to hate on Johnny R., but do you remember how fucking abysmal EA was before he came on board? Cause I sure as hell do.

He gave us Dead Space, Dragon Age, Mass Effect and BF Bad Company 2. I, for one, will miss you John.

Mass Effect wasn't made by EA, it wasn't even funded by them.

But 2+3 were. When I say ME or DA, I mean the whole franchise.

And then they were kind of responsible for knocking the wind out of DA2 with the dev cycle given.

I mean I still really liked it, but it was not the product it should have been.

So I guess by @enigma777 logic, James Washington Carver invented the peanut butter, right.

DA was in development since 2004. You wanna credit him with the garbage that is DA2, go ahead.

Dead Space was probably already underway in some form or the other when he came in. Now Mass Effect was pretty much the reason they bought Bioware so they could franchise Mass Effect, so sorry no credit here.

Now how in hell are you gonna give him the BF3 credit?! Again a game in a long standing franchise. BF3 would have been made even if Daffy Duck would have the CEO.

Now, I'm not gonna be all hating on him because I actually liked what he did with EA's Partners program, even though that kinda backfired, but don't give him credit when he shouldn't get it.

What do you mean "franchise" Mass Effect? It was always conceived as being a trilogy last I checked...

Posted by BigD145

EA has employees making terrible decisions and convincing others in the company they are good. CEO and board be damned.

Posted by JuggaloAcidman

Sim City was the last straw... Maybe EA will start making good games again!

Posted by Blu3V3nom07

So. If EA were to stop doing micro-transactions, and then every one else then jumps on the micro-t bandwagon, does EA lose?

Posted by EXTomar

To be "fair", the CEO knows or has very little control over what individual units, including Maxis, are doing. They rely on subordinates to run around the business and report to them how parts of the company are doing. Getting rid of Riccitiello is good in the sense he was the guy who was ultimate saying "yea/nay" to the larger questions but if the subordinate management is still there reporting the same stuff then it doesn't matter who is the next CEO where they will still get the same if not similar advice.

Edited by The_Laughing_Man

Why does his hair look like he stole it from a porcupine?

Posted by EvilNiGHTS

Why does his hair look like he stole it from a porcupine?

He had a fight with his brother and it turned white, apparently. Wait... wrong company.

Posted by inappropriate_touchscreen

Maybe they should get someone who isn't an old grey-haired / balding man to run the company for a change?

Edited by Hef

@inappropriate_touchscreen: When your choices are a board room full of balding/ grey-haired men...well you're not going to get much else.