Electronic Arts has announced that John Riccitiello has stepped down as Chief Executive Officer and member of the Board of Directors. In his place for a temporary basis – until a permanent replacement is found – is Larry Probst the former Chairman and CEO for the company. Riccitiello took over for Probst in 2007.
EA has struggled in recent years as the stock price has fallen significantly even matching a low set in 1999 – though it has rebounded as of late to 52 week highs. While Riccitiello helped, for a short time at least, rehabilitate the poor image of the company by investing in new IPs it has been recent failures like Star Wars: The Old Republic and PR disasters relating to Mass Effect 3 and SimCity that probably acted as the tipping point to eliminating any confidence or support internally and with investors.
The odds-on favorite to take on the CEO role is current COO and former EA Sports president Peter Moore. The company however is conducting a search that will include both internal and external candidates. Until that time it would be premature to assess what the change could mean for the company as a whole and potentially how it could alter its handling of the sports genre. It is a major development that necessitates close following going forward.