Riccitiello Out at EA

EA’s CEO is gone. SimCity may very well have been the straw that broke his back, but investors have not been happy for years.

UPDATE: It looks like the straw is the warning EA gave investors today that its earnings are going to be on the low end of its guidance.

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/ea-says-ceo-to-step-down-warns-on-guidance-2013-03-18

Larry Probst is back as executive chairman and will run the show while EA finds a new boss.

Likely the “in” thing to do will be celebrating Mr. Riccitello’s departure, but he was champion for company at least attempting to create new I.P. (Dead Space, Mirror’s Edge, Spore).

Change seems to imply EA will become even more conservative and franchise-driven than ever in terms of product lineup…for reasons that board of directors likely consider to be financially sound.

Guess the next CEO will be someone with a background in the packaged goods business. From now on it will probably be even more difficult for a EA studio to do anything more creative than a roster update.

I agree with Cold Blooded. It’s got to be a hell of a thing trying to steer a company that massive, why take more risks than you have to?

If he really championed new IP, that’s great. But it wasn’t all positive.

He also led EA into Warhammer Online and SWTOR, two of the most expensive flops in gaming history.

Full text of Riccitiello’s resignation:

Also EA won the coveted “worst company in America” award for 2012, beating out Bank of America, Ticketmaster, Comcast, and AT&T. It’s back in the running for 2013 too.

I mean, he’s no Bobby Kotick. He doesn’t have horns. But he’s not your buddy either.

I don’t think anyone is looking to canonize the guy, stusser. Just that this may not actually be, you know, good news.

I doubt it’ll make any perceptible difference whatsoever. But I guess we’ll see.

Yeah, I suspect they’re about to announce that Dick Cheney had his DNA spliced with Kotick’s as a grab for immortality about 20 years ago and the progeny of that union is now being groomed to take over EA.

To counterpoint, EA was also named one of the “Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality” in 2012. Obviously, that doesn’t give him a pass on everything EA did to screw gamers, but there is that.

I tend to think that getting a new CEO will probably result in discernible differences but yeah, I guess we’ll see.

Here is the full text of his real resignation letter:

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

There’s also the EA Bioware acquisition, with ties to his former investment group, etc. EA hasn’t killed Bioware yet like most of their other acquisitions, but they’re on that path.

It’s nice to hear they’ve improved from the EA spouse days, though.

Whether that’s a counterpoint depends on one’s moral philosophy.

Mr. Ricitello also does have the complete failure of Origin to make so much as a dent in Steam’s marketshare on his scorecard, yes.

I’m almost 100% positive that the new guy is going to take these quotes and implement them across the board to all their IP.

Also, we aren’t going to be seeing any original IP out of EA for years to come. They’re going to play it safe and milk every IP they have.

Nope.

we’re already beginning to use these learnings on new IPs that we are building for this console generation

Source: EA's chief technical officer calls PS4 a 'gigantic leap for the industry' - Polygon

I don’t know - I remember being excited by a lot of what he said when he got the job as CEO, but I don’t see a lot of follow-through on the promise that things like Dead Space and Mirror’s Edge showed was possible. I’m all for companies finding ways to monetize products, but there needs to be a focus on using a particular monetization scheme to enhance the game’s value to players - in other words, an effort to charge you in such a way that you are happy to spend money with company again. I don’t see that he really oversaw any efforts like that. Not that his replacement will necessarily be better, but at least it’s a chance to try something new.

I sort of begrudgingly liked him at EA. He got in when they bought out Bioware and I remember my friends who worked there admiring the man. He talked a good game and I’ll always think he is a lesser evil than someone like Kotick.