John Riccitiello has revealed he will be stepping down as CEO of EA on March 30th.
The publisher confirmed the news to shareholders last night, moving on to state that in Riccitiello’s absence, EA’s former CEO and executive chairman Larry Probst will oversee the firm whilst a replacement is found.
Unsurprisingly, rumours have already begun over who will succeed Riccitiello, with EA’s current COO Peter Moore heavily favoured to take the position.
Riccitiello was a key driving force behind EA’s growth between 1997 and 2004, which saw the company grow to become the publishing giant it is today. Despite leaving for VC firm Elevation Partners, he rejoined EA for a second term in 2007, during which time he successfully lead the publisher to $1billon in digital revenue, whilst also managing the acquisition of studios such as BioWare/Pandemic, PopCap and Playfish.
Since the announcement, speculation has been rife over the reasons behind Riccitiello’s departure, with many looking to the firm’s troubled launch of SimCity and the controversy it faced over its always-online connectivity.
Many players were unable to access the game, whilst those who could faced long wait times as a result of heavy server demand.
However, in Riccitiello’s own resignation letter, he cites accountability over upcoming poor financials as the driving force behind his departure.
"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," read the letter, which was released by EA.
"EA is an outstanding company with creative and talented employees, and it has been an honour to serve as the company’s CEO. I am proud of what we have accomplished together, and after six years I feel it is the right time for me pass the baton and let new leadership take the company into its next phase of innovation and growth," said Riccitiello.
Within an official EA note acknowledging the news, Probst celebrated the work that Riccitiello had done for the publisher.
"We thank John for his contributions to EA since he was appointed CEO in 2007, especially the passion, dedication and energy he brought to the Company every single day," said Probst.
"John has worked hard to lead the Company through challenging transitions in our industry, and was instrumental in driving our very significant growth in digital revenues. We appreciate John’s leadership and the many important strategic initiatives he has driven for the Company. We have mutually agreed that this is the right time for a leadership transition."
Immediately following Riccitiello’s departure, EA stock rose 2.89 per cent, suggesting that the publisher’s investors support the move.