EA CEO O-U-T – John Riccitiello Stepping Down March 30th

Posted on March 19, 2013 12:45 PM by Rob Williams

Electronic Arts’ CEO John Riccitiello will be leaving the game publishing giant on March 30, according to a company-issued statement. His predecessor, Larry Probst, has been installed as Executive Chairman to “to ensure a smooth transition and to lead EA’s executive team while the Board conducts a search for a permanent CEO.” EA’s statement also said that “(t)he Board will consider internal and external candidates with the assistance of a leading executive search firm.”

Riccitiello’s departure coincides with a particularly rough time for EA. As most people already know, the company has absorbed multiple major PR hits within the last few weeks. The SimCity launch fiasco angered many gamers; perhaps worse, it only served to reinforce the notion that Electronic Arts deserves its reputation as “the worst company in America“.

SimCity French Set

It’s hard to not think of Riccitiello’s impending departure as some kind of reaction to the SimCity launch. EA is keen to show that it is doing all it can to somehow stem the tide of bad press and consumer annoyance. Just days after the game launched amidst howls of dissatisfaction and unhappiness from people who bought the game, the company announced a raft of improvements to its servers to alleviate the problems. And soon after that, EA also announced that it was giving away a free game download from its own Origin distribution service to all those who bought the game at launch. Included in the list of free game downloads are (choice of one):

  • Battlefield 3 (Standard Edition)
  • Bejeweled 3
  • Dead Space 3 (Standard Edition)
  • Mass Effect 3 (Standard Edition)
  • Medal of Honor Warfighter (Standard Edition)
  • Need For Speed Most Wanted (Standard Edition)
  • Plants vs. Zombies
  • SimCity 4 Deluxe Edition

There is a caveat to the free game download, however: EA says that it’s “VALID FOR NEW PURCHASES OF SIMCITY (“PRODUCT”) THAT ARE REGISTERED TO YOUR ORIGIN ACCOUNT BY MARCH 25, 2013 AT 11:59PM PDT.”

As neat a coincidence as the timing of Riccitiello’s departure from Electronic Arts is, it’s more likely than not that it has more to do with longer-term factors at play than only SimCity. The company’s own statement says “EA expects that its revenues and earnings per share for the current quarter will be at the low end of, or slightly below previously issued guidance provided in its press release dated January 30, 2013.” Translation: EA lost money in the current financial quarter. In fact, this is just a continuation of a lengthy trend for the company.

It’s not all bad for Riccitiello, though. Polygon.com reported, “As part of Riccitiello’s separation agreement, he’ll receive 24 months of salary continuation and continued vesting of unvested stock options until Nov. 30, 2013, with those options exercisable until Feb. 28, 2014.” Not too shabby at all.

  • Kayden

    Dear Mr. Riccitiello, you should have done this a long time ago. You were the leading reason why so many good gaming studios went to crap after they were acquired by EA and I hold you responsible for that down turn of quality over quantity in the gaming-verse. Too bad you couldn’t have done this when you had a conscious and were concerned with that axiom of quality over quantity.

    • http://www.facebook.com/deathspawner Rob Williams

      It’s hard to speculate at this point whether him leaving is actually going to change anything. He was the CEO, but he wasn’t responsible for EVERYTHING the company screwed-up on. I just hope EA sees this as a wake-up call and realizes that its customers deserve more than being messed-around with.

      • Kayden

        I certainly agree he isn’t responsible for everything, I just dislike the fact he considers he only failed when it comes to money or quantity over quality. The yard stick is backwards in the corporate world, where it’s about how much money the company can have and not the quality of what it releases. Thus I think his reasoning is backwards and another indication of why the average person doesn’t like that world, because we want quality in our lives, what we need/want to buy, our friends and etc. What many don’t want it to measure our lives by how much stuff we have, money, amount of people know but never really know and etc. I personally think he is a failure for not realizing that quality over quantity is or should be more important to the people he sells to, rather he was just fearful of those he served, ie the stock-market and etc and that is just sick.

  • JD Kane

    To me the best (ahem) part of this whole story is how Mr. Riccitiello lost his job and yet is still going to receive TWO YEARS WORTH of salary. Since’s he was the CEO, it’s a fair bet that that’s going to be one pretty awesome wad of cash.

    I consider this symptomatic of the sickness of corporatism in the good ol’ US of A: Demonstrable incompetence (maybe not all his own, but as the CEO, the buck has to stop with him eventually) rewarded by a golden parachute upon leaving the company.

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