John Riccitiello steps down as Electronic Arts chief

Games developer Electronic Arts (EA) is looking for a new CEO after John Riccitiello announced he will step down at the end of March 2013

Global games developer Electronic Arts has begun looking for a new chief executive after John Riccitiello announced he will step down from the post and the board of directors at the end of the month.

“My decision to leave EA is really all about my accountability for the shortcomings in our financial results this year,” John Riccitiello said in his farewell letter to staff. 

“It currently looks like we will come in at the low end of, or slightly below, the financial guidance we issued, and we have fallen short of the internal operating plan we set one year ago.

"And for that, I am 100% accountable.”

Larry Probst is to step in as executive chairman until a permanent CEO is appointed. EA has announced it will be considering both internal and external candidates.

Riccitiello’s departure ends a difficult six-year reign that has seen the company’s stock fall more than 60% in that time, according to The Wall Street Journal.

In his letter of resignation to Probst, Riccitiello said: “My goal is to allow the talented leaders at EA a clean start on FY14.”

On a positive note, Riccitiello told staff in his farewell letter that EA had never been in a better position.

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“You’ve navigated a rapidly transforming industry to create a digital business that is now approximately $1.5 billion and growing fast,” Riccitiello said.

Probst praised Riccitiello for his contributions to EA, but accepted the resignation, saying: “We have mutually agreed that this is the right time for a leadership transition."

EA remains one of the major video game publishers – with titles such as Battlefield and Fifa – but had problems over the past year with charges for content and its Origin game download service.

Earlier this month, the release of the latest SimCity simulation was marred by server failures, as the game requires players be connected to the internet to play, driving the company to give players access to a free game in compensation.

Current chief operating officer Peter Moore has been mooted as possible successor to Riccitiello, according to the Guardian. The Liverpool-born executive has been at EA since 2007, having worked previously at Microsoft and Sega.

EA shares rose more than 3% in extended trading.

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