Electronic Arts CEO to Step Down
Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello is stepping down as CEO effective March 30 after over six years on the job. Board member and former CEO Larry Probst will take over as executive chairman as the company looks for a new CEO.
Riccitiello said in a letter that his decision to leave is "really all 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."
The video game giant warned that it expects revenue and earnings for the current quarter to be at the low end or slightly below previously-issued guidance. Those results are due out on May 7.
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Riccitiello's tenure coincides with the collapse of the traditional video game industry. EA has struggled as consumers shifted away from packaged games to mobile and social games. The company has invested significantly in building its presence in mobile in particular, generating $1.5 billion in digital net revenue annually. But the company is still losing money.
In his farewell letter, Riccitiello stressed the company's advantage in mobile."I believe EA is alone in mastering the challenges of building a platform for our games and services—a platform that will provide amore direct relationship with our consumers," he wrote. "You are number one in the fastest growing segment, mobile."
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Incoming Executive Chairman Larry Probst echoed Riccitiello's emphasis on mobile in another letter. "We are the clear leader in the fastest growing category in games—mobile—and we are positioned to lead on the next generation of consoles," he wrote.
Now the big question is who EA will appoint to take on the CEO role. With ever-growing competition in the mobile space and lower barriers to entry, EA may have established brands and a deep bench of talent, but the challenges are bigger than ever.
—By CNBC's Julia Boorstin; Follow her on Twitter: