Well another person has learned: you don’t mess with Rock, Paper, Shotgun. It seems our coverage of the SimCity… no, not really. The rather more unfortunate reason for EA’s CEO, John Riccitiello’s stepping down is due to the publisher’s struggles to turn a profit, alongside warnings that the next quarter’s targets won’t be met.
Explaining his reasons for leaving in a letter sent to EA employees, Riccitiello explained that,
“My decision to leave EA 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.”
In saying so, this looks very much like one of those falling-on-a-sword moments, to stave off investor unrest when yet another set of pointy-down graphs are released. Obviously no one person is 100% responsible for a corporations finances, but it always looks good to shareholders if you cut off the drooping heads to allow other… pretty flowers to flourish? That metaphor took an unexpectedly lovely turn.
The temporary head pretty flower is to be Larry Probst (who importantly isn’t Jeff Probst off of Survivor), while they begin what I can only desperately hope will be a TV talent show-style auditioning process for the new chief.
And no, this isn’t a time for gloating after the dreadful mess of SimCity, or ridiculous over-investment in Medal Of Honor, or whatever other ways EA may have annoyed people of late. A lot of great games come from that publisher, and they support a lot of great studios – we do rather want this industry to flourish. Hopefully a new boss can whip everything into shape, ideally in a way that doesn’t involve buying developers then closing them down.
Check out Kotaku’s coverage of this story for a really quite shocking graph of EA’s share prices over the last five years, and the full letter from the former boss to his staff.