It’s official. The CEO of Electronic Arts, John Riccitiello, has resigned. Personally, I’m not very surprised by this news considering the problems that EA has experienced. In his place, for now, will be Chairman Larry Probst, who is a previous EA chief executive, while the board searches for a permanent replacement.
According to the Wall Street Journal, EA’s shares have fallen nearly two-thirds since John Riccitiello was named CEO of Electronic Arts in 2007. In a letter that John Riccitiello sent to employees, he acknowledges that the company has fallen below expectations and takes responsibility for it. Part of the letter said:
My decision to leave EA is really about my accountability for the shortcomings in our financial results this year. It currently looks like we will come in at the low end of, or slightly below, the financial guidance we issued to the Street, and we have fallen short of the internal operating plan we set one year ago. And for that, I am 100 percent accountable.
EA, as you know, is the company that makes the SimCity game that has frustrated so many gamers recently. To make a long story short, it is clear that the company failed to anticipate the server instability issues that it faced after the game went live. It didn’t help that it took a very long time before EA acknowledged the problems or tried to fix them.
Players became more frustrated when they tried to return the malfunctioning game and discovered that EA was refusing to accept returns. Eventually, EA offered “something for your trouble” to the disgruntled players it managed to alienate – a free PC download of a game from the EA portfolio. I’m not sure that was enough.
Previously, EA, (which owns Bioware) had problems attracting and keeping players interested in the Star Wars The Old Republic game, which was intended to be a competitor for Blizzard’s World of Warcraft. According to The Wall Street Journal, SWTOR cost “hundred of millions of dollars to make over the five years” it was created.
In June of 2012, the game went free to play up to level 15. EA charged players for certain items within the game. The company stopped reporting the number of subscribers the game had, and that is never a sign that things are going well.