EA CEO John Riccitiello resigns

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EA’s John Riccitiello has stepped down as Chief Executive Officer of the publisher, a position he has held since 2007. Larry Probst, the man who was CEO before Riccitiello, will temporarily hold his position until a permanent replacement is found.

Probst says that he and Riccitello “have mutually agreed that this is the right time for a leadership transition.”

Update: We’ve just received the full text of Riccitiello’s resignation letter in which he admits that the company could fall short of financial projections made earlier in the year and that  “EA’s shareholders and employees expect better and I am accountable for the miss”

EA announced Riccitiello’s departure via a press release published earlier this evening.

In it temporary CEO Larry Probst wrote: “We thank John for his contributions to EA since he was appointed CEO in 2007, especially the passion, dedication and energy he brought to the Company every single day. John has worked hard to lead the Company through challenging transitions in our industry, and was instrumental in driving our very significant growth in digital revenues. We appreciate John’s leadership and the many important strategic initiatives he has driven for the Company. We have mutually agreed that this is the right time for a leadership transition.”

Riccitiello is also stepping down from his position on EA’s board of directors. Lead Director Richard A. Simonson said on behalf of the board that, “As we begin the CEO search, we are fortunate that Larry, who has a proven track record with our employees, partners and customers, has agreed to assume a day-to-day leadership role as Executive Chairman. He has 16 years of experience as CEO of EA and a deep understanding of the Company’s strategy, management team, business potential and industry trends.”

On his resignation, Mr. Riccitiello wrote, “EA is an outstanding company with creative and talented employees, and it has been an honor to serve as the Company’s CEO. I am proud of what we have accomplished together, and after six years I feel it is the right time for me pass the baton and let new leadership take the Company into its next phase of innovation and growth. I remain very optimistic about EA’s future — there is a world class team driving the Company’s transition to the next generation of game consoles.”

Update: Here is the full text of John Riccitiello’s resignation letter, as found by GamesIndustry.biz:

Dear Larry,

I hereby offer my resignation as CEO of Electronic Arts effective with the end of our Fiscal Year 13 on March 30, 2013.

This is a tough decision, but it all comes down to accountability. The progress EA has made on transitioning to digital games and services is something I’m extremely proud of. However, it currently looks like we will come in at the low end of, or slightly below, the financial guidance we issued in January, and we have fallen short of the internal operating plan we set one year ago. EA’s shareholders and employees expect better and I am accountable for the miss.

I have been at the helm as EA’s CEO for six years and served as COO for nearly seven years starting in 1997. I know this company well, and I care deeply about its future success. I leave knowing EA is a great company, with an enormously talented group of leaders and the strongest slate of games in the industry. I could not be more proud of our company’s games, from Battlefield and FIFA, to The Simpsons: Tapped Out and Real Racing 3. We have built many great franchises that will serve the company well in FY14 and beyond. In particular, I am confident that the investments we have made in games for next-generation consoles will put EA in a strong leadership position for many years ahead.

In offering my resignation, my goal is to allow the talented leaders at EA a clean start on FY14. I look forward to working with you in the coming weeks on an effective leadership transition. I’m extremely honored to have led this company and proud to have worked with all the great people at Electronic Arts.

Sincerely,

/s/ John Riccitiello

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