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Analysts support Riccitiello's departure, claims board pushed exec

Ben Parfitt
Analysts support Riccitiello's departure, claims board pushed exec

The departure of John Riccitiello from EA has come as little surprise to analysts.

The exec announced his resignation last night, although the consensus is that the outspoken figure was likely pushed by a board wanting to reposition itself ahead of the next-generation consoles.

“On balance, we believe investors will view the move favourably given EA's mixed performance and the opportunity for a fresh set of eyes to guide EA into the next console cycle,” Baird Equity Research analyst Colin Sebastian stated.

“[The] CEO change not a complete surprise. We believe timing makes sense for a CEO transition at the end of the fiscal year, and ahead of next generation console launches and a strong 2H title lineup (Battlefield and EA Sports). Despite the company's challenges over the past six years, we believe EA is well positioned for the console refresh cycle, and the company has made progress in building a digital platform and more recently controlling expenses.

“However, we note that inconsistent financial performance, some high profile title flops (e.g. Star Wars) and employee turnover were issues that impacted the CEO's credibility. We believe that leading internal candidates will include COO Peter Moore and President, EA Labels, Frank Gibeau.”

Star Wars was also seen as a key motivation for the move by Wedbush Morgan’s Michael Pachter.

"If you read his resignation letter, it was clearly prompted by the board," he told Eurogamer. "I think that missing guidance is a pretty weak excuse to fire him, particularly since the industry was down 24 per cent last year, and EA managed to gain share and grow its digital business.

"My guess is that the board couldn't get over the Star Wars disaster (one of the reasons for buying Pandemic/BioWare), and the departures of the doctors, the departures of all of the PlayFish guys, and lacklustre social and PopCap results just tipped them against him.

"The missed guidance was the straw that broke the camel's back."

Adding to the fun, potential CEO in waiting Peter Moore once again took to the internet to lash out at the games press, this time in response to a Kotaku piece entitled ‘The Best John Riccitiello Jokes Twitter Has To Offer’.

"Kotaku revelling in what, due to their self-smugness, they don't realize is a sad day for our industry, which is the platform on which they actually make money,” he said on Facebook.

“John not only helped propel our company and interactive entertainment into new experiences, thus enticing millions of new people to become 'gamers', his work leading the ESA in recent years has helped ensure that we don't experience the fate of the music industry.

"Sad loss for all of us who had the pleasure of working with him as we emerged from The Burning Platform."

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