EA Gave Outgoing Exec Patrick Soderlund A $20 Million Bonus And Here's Why

The publisher really wanted Soderlund to stay.

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One of publishing giant EA's top executives, Patrick Soderlund, is leaving the company in October. It's unclear why he's going, but it appears EA really wanted him to stay. Back in June, EA disclosed in a government filing with the SEC that it paid Soderlund a $20 million bonus for the purpose of supporting the "longer-term retention of Mr. Soderlund."

As spotted by Kotaku, the bonus was paid in the form of stock awards, and it was approved by EA's Compensation Committee. In addition to encouraging him to stick around, the bonus was meant to reflect Soderlund's "key role in leading our worldwide studios, following the completion of a record fiscal 2017 and in particular, the highly acclaimed success of the Battlefield 1 game."

As EA's chief design officer, Soderlund was creatively involved in "all of EA's game development," which included marketing campaigns and "technology innovations."

But as mentioned, likely the biggest reason for the $20 million bonus was to encourage Soderlund to stay at EA instead of leaving and potentially joining a competitor. In its filing, EA said Soderlund is a "highly desirable candidate" for executive-level positions at other companies in gaming and across the entire interactive entertainment field.

It was also confirmed in the SEC filing that Soderlund's salary for fiscal 2018 (that being April 2017 through March 2018) was $821,539, which was a 28 percent increase from the previous year. Soderlund's employment agreement also netted him $46.2 million in stock-based awards for the fiscal year. Combined with other forms of compensation, Soderlund's total pay package for the fiscal year was more than $48 million, which is higher than all the other executives at EA including CEO Andrew Wilson.

Whether or not Soderlund gets to keep all of his equity awards is unclear, as that could depend on the terms of the employment agreement he had with EA.

It is not immediately clear who will replace Soderlund as EA chief design officer. Also unknown is what Soderlund may do next. He had been with EA since 2000.

Writing on LinkedIn, Soderlund teased that he plans to stay in gaming in some capacity. "While I'm not yet ready to spill the beans on what's next for me, rest assured that I'm not done with gaming," he said.

Soderlund's last day at EA will be October 30, which is a few weeks after Battlefield V launches.

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