Riccitiello back as EA CEO

Former president of game publisher will leave post at Elevation Partners to assume CEO role at Electronic Arts; current CEO Larry Probst will end 16-year tenure at helm.

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After the markets in New York closed today, Electronic Arts announced its former president and COO John Riccitiello has rejoined the company. Riccitiello returns to the fold and will act as EA's CEO, effective with the start of the company's 2007 fiscal year, April 1, 2007.

Speaking with GameSpot shortly after the news hit the wires, Riccitiello commented on his return, saying he "wouldn't have considered leaving [Elevation] for anything other than this exact opportunity." He also added that when looking at the EA timeline, and Larry Probst's tenure specifically, "it was the right time to manage succession."

Riccitiello will replace current CEO Larry Probst, a 23-year EA veteran who has been chief executive since 1991.

"We're happy to welcome John back as EA's new CEO," said Probst, who will remain with the company as executive chairman of the board. "His skill and vision as an executive and his experience in our industry have earned him the respect of our employees and shareholders."

"Leading EA has always been my dream job and I am truly honored that Larry and the board have given me this opportunity," Riccitiello said in a statement. "This is an extremely well-run company driven by outstanding studio and publishing teams. They've also made strategic investments in new platforms and markets that will help extend EA's industry leadership in the years ahead."

Riccitiello spoke additionally to GameSpot News and clarified where he intended to focus the company's energy and talent pool: "I put original intellectual property on the top of the list of growth opportunities." On the heels of original IP came wireless gaming, the online and casual space, additional investments in the MMO space, and Asia. "And to help grow the great management team here at EA.

Analysts contacted by GameSpot generally reacted favorably to the news (see above audio segments). Colin Sebastian, senior research analyst at Lazard Capital Markets said the hire "should give investors some comfort [given] Riccitiello is a known quantity."

"It helps to have industry experience. Riccitiello has previous CEO experience, and he definately knows EA....That's why it's a good fit."

When asked about the long-term impact of Riccitiello returning to EA and replacing Probst as CEO, however, Sebastian left the door open: "We'll have to see what his strategic plan is."

Riccitiello left Electronic Arts in 2004 and joined venture capital organization Elevation Partners. At that time, insiders said Riccitiello left EA after seeing no clear path to the CEO position. Observers saw then head of worldwide studios Don Mattrick as the heir apparent to the CEO slot. However, Mattrick left the organization in 2005, and Riccitiello's position, as president, went unfilled.

Elevation brass commented on the Riccitiello news today, wishing him well. "The employees and partners at Elevation and our extended family of portfolio companies congratulate John on his election by the EA board of directors to the position of chief executive officer," the investment firm said in a statement. "John is a hugely talented executive in the video game industry and he is the perfect person to lead EA during this period of dramatic change in the industry. We look forward to continuing to work with John and his team at EA."

Riccitiello was influential in Elevation's major investment in game developers BioWare and Pandemic Studios--one which will follow him to Electronic Arts. Elevation and EA recently inked a deal that will see the two organizations co-publish the upcoming BioWare/Pandemic title Mercenaries 2.

Discussion

53 comments
bigpimppapa
bigpimppapa

Big deal the shuffling of the guards. Most likely done for tax reasons, April 15th is coming real soon believe it

gmax
gmax

Hurray! An executive is employed! Hurray! Sorry. My sarcasm containment has apparently failed...

desolation00
desolation00

Always start off with bread and butter. Of course C&C3 has been in the works for awhile and its being released around the same time as the news of this change is just coincidental. I'd wager it will take at least 2 development cycles for the new CEO to have a noticable impact on EA's development process. Of course you can't argue with the financial success of the overall business plan at EA to this point. They aren't going broke anytime soon.

ufopuller
ufopuller

16 years - ya time to retire

makemeweak
makemeweak

This could be very good for EA. I hope he does well as CEO.

cjcr_alexandru
cjcr_alexandru

And EA starts the new IP strategy by releasing C&C 3. Nice...

dmastor
dmastor

Gosh Ea is great but They also have there faults i'm sure now to look like an better ceo he's going to factory games out like candy for fast money and stock reasons also to help with there big titles like well they don't have any i guess sims,spore,.....crysis..... well pc game really hey what about consoles Ea u guys suck oh yeah C&C ok

ello432
ello432

a step in the right direction now they just have to stop the quantity over quality production

GIJesse77
GIJesse77

Okay then, will this guy give us better games?

theGrynch
theGrynch

Who cares? I wish we could be reading news about games, instead of this type of stuff...

FallenOneX
FallenOneX

Just tell me he's there to fix the sports department.

Merl57
Merl57

well now we have another leader of the Empire that is EA hopefully this guy stays on the light side

kungfuj0
kungfuj0

Here's hoping this guy can do something about the quality of the games comig out of EA these days. If he can't or won't, then this whole thing will be utterly pointless IMO. What good does having a new leader do if he just allows the same ol' bull**** to continue to pass through???? I want my Madden and Live back, Goddammit!!!

Erebus
Erebus

Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning will be the deciding factor for me. I have seen what Mythic is capable of, and I know what EA is capable of (both good and bad). Mythic doesn't need a fat wallet to make a stellar game, but they do need someone who wants to blow away the competition in terms of quality and fun.

BigB10123
BigB10123

I hope this new CEO make sure Command & Conquer 3 does great and better than Supreme Commander and Company of Heroes. Command & Conquer 3 better be succedded by EA or give the rights to Petroglyph.

over_18
over_18

ZOMG EA might actually be going in the right direction.....myabe just MAYBE there disasters they call games will be good again like cmon Carbon coulda been so much beter if we had every thing already on the marketplace.

Anderjak
Anderjak

Considering it's a CEO's job to decide, along with a board of directors and consultants, where the direction of a company will go, it's definitely good to get a refreshing and new perspective in an industry that's being diluted with half-hearted sequels and cheap cash-ins. EA's done an abysmal job in recent years, with total flops like Goldeneye: Rogue Agent and the near-complete stumble of the sports franchises on the next-gen consoles, alongside some rather lack-luster updates to a dying franchise, in the case of Need for Speed. Publishing-wise, they've done a great job, acquiring two of my favorite studios [Maxis and Lionhead], and they've done quite a few things right in that area. There's a lot of promise in some of EA's newer games [The Godfather had a lot of potential, but was not fully realized, and games like SSX and Fight Night are still high quality, alongside some truly creative decisions with Def Jam], but it isn't quite enough. The gameplay is still being sacrificed for prettier graphics and some cheap underhanded moves [making content that was available in current gen into pay-only items for the next-gen, looking at you, Godfather], and the company only needs just one person to finally tell everyone how to do it right. Considering Riccitiello's previous position at Elevation, along with his current track record... I can't say this is at all a bad move. Good luck, EA, and hopefully you'll retain your legacy of being one of the better publishers/developers in the industry, instead of its bane.

Doolum
Doolum

welcome back and congrats to the dude.

Jac5232
Jac5232

From past experiences I can say for certain that a change in CEO can make or break a corporation's standings with the general public. Case in point, G4TV. That was good until the corporation got a new CEO and he decided to change G4TV into Spike TV 2.0. Here's hoping the exact opposite happens in the case of EA. (nothing against BF2142, it's good but it needs a fair amount of fixing)

henkvn
henkvn

great work adding the audio clips...more please

Pete5506
Pete5506

Well lets see if this helps ea

Agreb91
Agreb91

Hopefully he can me EA even better, I am sure will enjoy the CEO title as well.

Yasihiko
Yasihiko

Hahaha, crash mode. This is great though. Although EA is seen as a mega corp, they still manage to kick out good games so Riccitiello is going to be a great addition.

vaejas
vaejas

Yes it's a new CEO, but they took out the Crash Mode! Ba-Dum-Bump!

7thRonin
7thRonin

wow some of your comments are ridiculous.. ceo's doesnt make games better

Areola54
Areola54

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

Jaeme
Jaeme

I remember a time(unfortunately a long time ago now) when if it had EA on the box it was great. Period. It didn`t matter what genre of game it was you just bought it and you were never disappointed. There is now an entire generation of gamers who consider the above statement to be a sign of mental illness, and rightly so. One can only hope that a new head at EA will lead to putting ARTS into more than just their name. Videogames may be a business, but if you only care about cash you would be better off as a banker because every dollar you make slutting out formerly great franchises(Madden, Medal of Honor, Need for Speed, etc, etc) will lose you three in the long run. I wish him not luck or success, but love for the games and their makers and fans.

aaronfilmltd
aaronfilmltd

"This is an extremely well-run company driven by outstanding studio and publishing teams. They've also made strategic investments in new platforms and markets that will help extend EA's industry leadership in the years ahead." Ha! I find this statement extremely humorous considering how much they've shot their previous games. Seriously, how many actually think they'll improve? EA's destroyed many strong franchises such as Need for Speed. Unfortunate that Need for Speed XI will be another street racer based on Underground, Most Wanted, and Carbon isn't it?

TintedChimes
TintedChimes

really slow news day...better quality games please, I usually so more, but they put out enough, now its quality.

BranKetra
BranKetra moderator

Well, maybe now EA will start making quality games again besides the Need for Speed and Fight Night series'.

bizuit
bizuit

1PSman, well that and their games have been sucking the past 2-3 years

SpareJesus
SpareJesus

Hopefully, if anything, he'll be able to stop EA being such a disaster. New Desert Strike game, plx.

1PSman
1PSman

u know i dont think any of EA's games are bad u people just cant stand the top dog can u 1st its sony ur hating on becouse it sold the most consoles (ps2) and u hate on EA cuz its selling the most games (sports line up and others) grow up plz 1psman

GatoFeo
GatoFeo

Sooo, is Ea going to flop more games??

mrbass208
mrbass208

Change is generally a good thing, especially when you consider the constant evolution of gaming as a whole. Having a fresh perspective from the top on down will encourage innovation and will be a good thing for both EA and its customers in the long term.

gord_mose
gord_mose

Wonder if it didn't work out at EP or if EA just lured him back with LOTS of money.? Hopefully EP will find the leader it needs to keep Bioware and Pandemic on the right track.

HAMMER261266
HAMMER261266

Maybe their sports games won't suck so bad now!

Donkeljohn
Donkeljohn

Changing CEOs is a huge deal. The CEO controls the direction of the company including the dominant parties within the company who are promoted. The CEO also indirectly controls other factors including capacity utilization, business operations that influence stock price, and the dividends disbursed to shareholders. The board of directors are the overlords of the CEO. They choose who is president of the company, how s/he is compensated, whether s/he is doing well enough. The fact that Probst has moved to be executive chairman of the board means he will be leading the board. I doubt, with his influence, you will see significant changes to how EA operates.

LexLas
LexLas

Well that's a big change. But what changes will it bring for the games and company issues ?

sarges24
sarges24

Lol, Maybe now we'll see CHANGE in their annual titles. Maybe something more than average games. ;) ;) won't get my hopes, but it's a nice thought...

comthitnuong
comthitnuong

He seems excited about it. Maybe we can get some refreshing games from EA.