EA CEO John Riccitiello has resigned, claiming personal responsibility for the publisher missing several financial targets.
Despite EA Sports creating some of the most enduring and profitable titles of this generation, and Battlefield growing massively under Riccitiello's leadership, there have been a number of surprising flops recently... at least by AAA standards. Medal Of Honor: Warfighter came in vastly under projections due to the fact that it was crushingly average, while even Crysis 3 and Dead Space 3 are slipping fast. The less said about MMOs The Secret World and SWTOR the better.
Holding himself accountable for coming in under their financial projections, Riccitiello has now stepped down as EA's CEO (though Polygon reports that he will receive Salary Continuation and stock for two years). Here's the resignation letter.
Dear Larry [Probst],
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.
Larry Probst is a former CEO and board member, who will become an interim CEO regent (I totally made that term up) until a more permanent solution is found. A... Moore permanent solution?
Second in command Peter Moore is tipped to be leading the pack, having experience at both SEGA and Microsoft before moving to EA. The COO has overseen some of the most profitable EA titles of all time, and is more active than usual at defending the company in journalistic and social circles. EA labels boss Frank Gibeau may also be in with a shot at the Iron Throne.
Whoever takes over as CEO will have to lead EA through a very challenging time, as well as several transitions. With next-gen consoles on the horizon, rising development costs, the rise of apps and the digital age fast approaching, they'll have their work cut out.