EA CEO suggests Zynga moves financially motivated

Riccitiello: Staff departures have not weakened us

Electronic Arts has not been weakened by the departures of key personnel to rivals such as social gaming outfit Zynga, CEO John Riccitiello has said.

The publishing giant has had numerous head staff exit the company during the last year, with former COO John Schappert and exec VP of EA interactive Barry Cottle leaving for Zynga, and more recently CFO Eric Brown quitting the company to join Polycom.

Speaking during a Q&A session at Wedbush last week, as reported by Gamasutra, he suggested that some of these departures, particularly to Zynga, had been financially motivated, and not related to issues with EA.

"To a person, they came and saw me at one point in the process, usually in tears or close to tears, with a story that basically goes like this. ‘I love my company. I love Electronic Arts. I bleed blue, but they’re going to give me a bank account in the first 12 or 24 months that I couldn’t get anywhere and may never get anywhere for the rest of my life,’” said Riccitiello.

"So it was more about personal balance sheet stuff. To a person, they’ve told me – and I think if you speak to them, would probably say they believe in the Electronic Arts story and sort of where it’s going.

"So I don’t feel at all weakened by it. They got some good guys, and I think we’re fine."

Riccitiello went on to say that he was happy for Brown to have left the publisher to join Polycom, as the former CFO had ambitions to become a CEO, which was unlikely to happen at EA in the near future.

"He wants to be and will be a CEO in his life," he said.

"He had an ambition he wanted to realise, and he couldn’t realise it in the timeframe that was close to his ambition. So, we understood that sometime last year and he found what he was looking for and I’m really happy for him.

"So, we understood that sometime last year, and he found what he was looking for and I’m really happy for him."

Other recent departures from the company include EA Dice trio Wille Wintertidh, Malte Hildingsson and Torbjorn Lædre, who left for Swedish studio Ngmoco to join former EA Easy head Ben Cousins, who quit the publisher last year.

This was followed by the losses of exec John Earner and tech lead Dan Borthwtick, who left to join Playfish and NaturalMotion Games.

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