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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

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270 Comments
Posted by AndyPhifer

Brilliant headline.

Edited by Sil3n7

He made huge bets that didn't pay off financially but I believe his heart was in a good place. We wouldn't have Dead Space or Mirrors Edge without him.

Online
Posted by Tidel

I will always remember him as the man who briefly endeavored to make EA the good guy by throwing weight behind new IP. He was a victim of circumstance as much as anything, I think.

Posted by Efesell

@chose said:

It's all Sim City. Losing money is one thing, losing trust and confidence is everything.

If losing trust and confidence were enough then the EA offices would be a crater right now that instantly killed anything that walked near it.

Edited by zeekthegeek

@efesell 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.

And also Dragon Age was well into development by the time the Bioware deal came about, so probably not a ton going into that either.

John R was one of the founders of Elevation Partners, who owned Bioware (and Pandemic) before it was sold to EA. So he did give you Mass Effect anyway, kind of

Posted by isomeri

I'd just listened to the crew discussing how he won't have a future at the company on the BombCast. Fingers crossed for Peter Moore.

Edited by DougQuaid

@pixeldemon said:

they need someone who acknowledges they have a serious public image problem and will take authentic steps to repair their brand.

here's hoping

If we're looking for someone with some authenticity, look no further:

Edited by psylah

@abdo: You beat me to it.

Edited by chose

@efesell said:

@chose said:

It's all Sim City. Losing money is one thing, losing trust and confidence is everything.

If losing trust and confidence were enough then the EA offices would be a crater right now that instantly killed anything that walked near it.

There's a fundamental difference between internet trolls and real life consumers and investors.

Posted by Giantstalker

Seemed like Battlefield was, by and large, unaffected EA contamination under John Riccitiello. So at least he kinda had that right. Sure the single player was kinda sub-par in 3, but honestly the multiplayer was/is still great and avoided the publisher's taint.

No guarantees what how next CEO will treat the series, the only solid franchise EA handles that I care about anymore. Hopefully he (let's be real folks) won't force DICE to screw around and run it into the ground as Dragon Age, Mass Effect, or SimCity.

Edited by zerdune

Posted by MeatSim

Regardless of who the next CEO is I am betting very little will change at EA.

Edited by JoeyRavn

@p_p_o_d said:

Finally a EA release that I am satisfied with

I really hope he gets paid his pink slip in microtransactions. No, seriously, I was never able to connect with the guy. He belongs in a galaxy far, far away.

And ME3's ending still sucks.

Edited by crusader8463

Here's hoping that the new guy realize how terrible all the online only, DLC, pre-order shit is and cuts back. Though deep down I know it's just going to keep getting worse.

Edited by Superfriend

Good move. Now please don't find work ever again. At least not as a CEO in the games business.

Posted by Maitimo

It's weird that this happened now rather than, say, post-TOR. I wonder what changed? EA have been consistently falling short of the mark for a while and every time EA puts out another stinker we have the "how long does Riccitiello still have?" conversation.

Edited by Aaron_G

Not at all surprised.

Edited by RecSpec

Well, good to know that things have a chance to possibly change, just a bit.

Edited by Efesell

@chose said:

@efesell said:

@chose said:

It's all Sim City. Losing money is one thing, losing trust and confidence is everything.

If losing trust and confidence were enough then the EA offices would be a crater right now that instantly killed anything that walked near it.

There's a fundamental difference between internet trolls and real life consumers and investors.

The only thing that the company is the going to take away from Sim City is that it sold tremendously well.

Posted by CptBedlam

@sil3n7 said:

He made huge bets that didn't pay off financially but I believe his heart was in a good place. We wouldn't have Dead Space or Mirrors Edge without him.

Yep, this. Let's also add Brütal Legend to that list.

I think he was forced by investors to make some hard decisions that didn't sit well with gamers, resulting in pumping out sequel after sequel with diminishing returns.

Let's remember the early Riccitiello!

And I doubt the next CEO (probably Peter Moore) will adopt a more gamer-friendly strategy. If anything, it'll get worse.

Posted by GaspoweR

@retrovirus said:

Yes. He's just the guy to revitalize the image of EA into the digital future!

@snail said:
@mattyftm said:

JEFF GREEN FOR CEO!!!!!

This I can get behind. Screw the Peter Moore supporters.

Jeff Green for EA CEO 2013

I would be totally on board with this, but after what he was saying about teenage girls on the Tested Dadcast I don't think anyone would make him president of anything. (I still throw all my support at him nonetheless)

To be fair, he was sharing a cautionary tale and that was another dad who said that teenager bit in his story.

Posted by elfinke

@p_p_o_d said:

Finally a EA release that I am satisfied with

Fantastic. Just fantastic.

Posted by The_Ruiner

Well we all saw this coming...

Edited by DanK_

Guess I'll download that star wars mmo... now that I'm actually reminded of it. Shit's free, right?

Posted by Torrim

Sim City has nothing to do with it, I'd bet. If anything, they would see the server stress as a healthy sign that the game has sold well over expectations.

But, wtf on the shout out to Real Racing 3. Is that seriously the pinnacle of their gaming achievement he is claming? Facepalm.

Posted by ultrapeanut

It's amazing how gratifying it is to finally read these words.

@retrovirus said:

Yes. He's just the guy to revitalize the image of EA into the digital future!

@snail said:
@mattyftm said:

JEFF GREEN FOR CEO!!!!!

This I can get behind. Screw the Peter Moore supporters.

Jeff Green for EA CEO 2013

e-e-e-emptyquote

Posted by frankepooz

The second video game collapse has been brewing for a while and now we are closer than ever to the cleansing fires.

Posted by Insectecutor

Just gonna leave this here.

Posted by GreggD

I'm gonna miss him. Early goings this gen were so promising. And then harsh reality set in. Oh well...

Edited by Blackout62

The cardinals of EA will now meet for their isolated enclave wherein they will elect the next CEO.

Posted by eccentrix

If FY14 means Fiscal Year 14, business people are even crazier than video game fans.

Edited by unholyone123

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

Posted by gregoryc

John's resignation reads like a press release about EA games. Why would John mention specific games as if the new CEO would never have heard of them. It's odd...

Online
Posted by RobotHamster

Jeff Green 2013!!

Edited by gbrading

So long Riccitiello. It isn't too late: We can still save Electronic Arts. There's still life under that withering carcass, somewhere...

Edited by chose

@efesell said:

@chose said:

@efesell said:

@chose said:

It's all Sim City. Losing money is one thing, losing trust and confidence is everything.

If losing trust and confidence were enough then the EA offices would be a crater right now that instantly killed anything that walked near it.

There's a fundamental difference between internet trolls and real life consumers and investors.

The only thing that the company is the going to take away from Sim City is that it sold tremendously well.

I'd say they fired their CEO over it, but if you think those two are purely coincidental.

Edited by AiurFlux

I can still blame him for a good one or two years of the games and shitty business practices that might pop up and continue to blame him for the shitty business practices that EA have implemented during his tenure. Stepping down doesn't magically absolve him from being a massive piece of shit.

If I could kick him around I would, but I can still hope somebody someday will kick that cunt in the jaw. Literally.

Posted by Quarters

I feel bad for him. Hope he finds success in his next venture.

Edited by Svenzon

@vermy81 said:

As much as people love to hate EA now I would honestly take the output over the last few years under Riccitello compared with the previous few years under Larry Probst.

I mean make no mistake, there were a lot of shitty decisions by Electronic Arts under his tenure but the fact of the matter is unlike the previous administration it seemed like they were trying. They put out risky games and they failed. Then they tried to copy what was popular and failed a bit at that too. They made a lot of people angry along the way, but if we remember the EA of 2005 it was pretty grim.

Definitely. He went in with good intentions and up until 2010 or so, things looked pretty good. New exciting IPs were created and quality sequels were coming out. It's shocking how it all went downhill so fast. They're nearly back at square one now, though I'd sure as hell rather play their current output than what they were spitting out last generation, if I had to choose. Part of me hopes Peter Moore will step in and straighten it all out, but I can't help but wonder if EA have simply become too damn big for their own good.

Posted by Blackout62

@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 Bioware was at the time owned by Elevation Partners, the investor group Johnny Ric was part of before becoming EA CEO. So once again this is really all Bono's fault.

Edited by SomeJerk
@somejerk said:

If this was because of Sim City, then I'm sad for it.

99% sure this has little to do with Sim City. :P

Sim City has been doing pretty well. (Over 1 million in 2 weeks)

Investor panic over media dropping jaws at Sim City maybe tipped the scale! Sinking-ship-leaving

Edited by Patman99

@zaccheus said:

@patman99 said:

@zaccheus said:

$200 million... Old Republic was such a bad idea, in hindsight.

I think a Star Wars MMO has such huge expectations that they could never meet them fully. They should have done something a little smaller and then expand on it through expansions. Unfortunately, they went for the full monty and did not necessarily achieve it. The game was still fun though for about a month.

That's a pretty damning thing to say about an MMO. Things were pretty different six years ago, only a truly crazy person would try anything like that now. I hope the Elder Scrolls MMO hasn't cost only a fraction of that.

Well, it took me one month to complete one class story arc. While I did have a few alts, I plugged the majority of my time into that one character. I played the shit out the game with a friend and we had an absolute ball. But, we really wanted to get into pvp and the end-game stuff was pretty boring. I hope that Elder Scrolls Online is good. Again, I hope they scale it back a bit and try to do an excellent job on a few aspects and then add to it in the future. TOR simply had too many systems that needed to be amazing for people to really stick with it.

Simply copying World of Warcraft is not a good idea. They need to build out their own niche over time and not expect to dethrone the king in the first six months.

Posted by Brodehouse

I care more about EA games now than I did 7 years ago.

Posted by Beomoose

@abdo said:

RIP

Oh. My. God.

Flawless Victory.

Posted by myslead

dat SimCity fallout

Edited by Efesell

@chose said:

@efesell said:

@chose said:

@efesell said:

@chose said:

It's all Sim City. Losing money is one thing, losing trust and confidence is everything.

If losing trust and confidence were enough then the EA offices would be a crater right now that instantly killed anything that walked near it.

There's a fundamental difference between internet trolls and real life consumers and investors.

The only thing that the company is the going to take away from Sim City is that it sold tremendously well.

I'd say they fired their CEO over it, but if you think those two are purely coincidental.

He is out for the very simple reasons already presented in the article. The fiscal year is up, they under performed and that's all on his plate.

Under a different timeframe the financial success of Sim City might well have prevented this move, at least a while longer.

Posted by Subjugation

Everyone who is overly excited about this, remember that the new CEO is going to be chosen by the board of directors and that they will likely still have the same type of person in mind. I have little to no faith that they are interesting in trying to repair their brand.

Edited by Brackynews

@gregoryc said:

John's resignation reads like a press release about EA games. Why would John mention specific games as if the new CEO would never have heard of them. It's odd...

Because he knows it goes into a public SEC filing that shareholders read and websites post. Because a CEO's resignation affects the stock price, and his tone is therefore an important form of damage control.

I can promise you private memos read nothing like this. Like the ones that come out in court hearings.

Edited by hermes

@spicyrichter said:

Anyone that expects the direction to change because of this is crazy. EA has a board which makes these decisions, not the CEO

Agreed. I also tend to think the board is (at least) as guilty of most of the business decisions in EA as Riccitello (who was, at least in the beginning, honestly trying to bring new blood to a stagnant lineup), so I would expect things to keep going down from here.

Edited by arch4non

You're next Kotick.