John Riccitiello has today stepped down as CEO of Electronic Arts, as noted by EA's own Larry Probst. The company, which has spent the last few years incurring wrath from gamers the world over, in no small part due to its consumer-unfriendly policies, has been captained by Riccitiello since 2007.
The silver-haired EA boss will leave his position and the board of directors on March 30. A replacement is yet to be revealed. It has been confirmed that he's taken responsibility for EA's financial performance recording below expectations, and will be stepping down as a result.
I once had major respect for Riccitiello. Between 2007 and 2008, the EA CEO came across as a humble man, full of respect for the game industry. He spoke of the need to reduce the $60 price tag that has become so common in console games. He expressed regret at the acquisition and destruction of great studios like Bullfrog. In essence, he presented himself as a man who knew EA's problems, and sought to make it a better company.
We all saw how that turned out.
With EA's Origin still charging $60 (sometimes more) per game, in spite of it being a fully publisher-controlled digital format, the CEO's opinion on fixed price rates became disingenuous. With the closure of developers like Pandemic, the CEO's regret over studio closure came across as insincere. As for the man's respect for the industry, I think this quote sums it up quite nicely.
Can John Riccitiello be fully blamed for a company that many gamers consider the worst of them all? Probably not, and there's no reason to suspect his replacement will change the culture that feeds EA's current behavior. However, him being a man who once had my admiration, and subsequently plummeted in estimation, I can't say I'll weep over his departure.
Good night, Molag Bal, daedric prince of Electronic Arts. We wait in terror for the rise of your successor.