Electronic Arts CEO steps down

By Andrew Yoon, Mar 18, 2013 1:21pm PDT

John Riccitiello is stepping down as CEO of Electronic Arts, effective March 30th. Riccitiello was appointed in 2007, and attempted to refocus the company on digital. Under his leadership, EA launched "Project Ten Dollar," a now-standard practice of including one-time use vouchers in new retail games. During his tenure, the company also significantly increased its focus on mobile and social games, moved away from licensed console games, and launched Origin--an EA-operated digital storefront for PC games.

In spite of these initiatives, the company has continuously struggled, with EA stock failing to provide any meaningful returns for investors. Riccitiello's position has been repeatedly questioned in recent investors calls.

Additionally, EA has announced that its revenues and earnings for the current fiscal quarter will be "at the low end of, or slightly below previously issued guidance."

EA stock has long-struggled under Riccitiello's leadership

"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," Larry Probst, EA's new acting CEO said in a press release. "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."

Riccitiello also added: "EA is an outstanding company with creative and talented employees, and it has been an honor 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. I remain very optimistic about EA's future--there is a world class team driving the Company's transition to the next generation of game consoles."

In his resignation letter, Riccitiello said that "accountability" is the main reason for his exit. "We have fallen short of the internal operating plan we set one year ago," he wrote. "EA's shareholders and employees expect better and I am accountable for the miss."

"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."

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