Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello has stepped down from his position, which is leaving many wondering whether his resignation is due to the abysmal response to the gaming company’s latest edition of Sim City, "Sim City 5."
Having released a statement on EA’s website Tuesday, Riccitiello takes responsibility for the company’s financial struggles.
“My decision to leave EA is really all about my accountability for the shortcomings in our financial results this year. It currently looks like we will come in at the low end of, or slightly below, the financial guidance we issued to the Street, and we have fallen short of the internal operating plan we set one year ago. And for that, I am 100 percent accountable,” he wrote.
However Forbes suggests that overwhelming criticisms about the city-building game Sim City may have been the catalyst for Riccitiello to leave. According to the financial publication, EA designed Sim City as always-online DRM. But players found numerous issues with its structure from the very beginning, from having to log into servers before even beginning gameplay, to having to wait in long queues to play the game, which allows users to build a town in an urban landscape -- to often having serves disconnect and losing a player’s progress.
EA’s response was simple, yet disappointing to fans: the company explained that Sim City could not be played offline without “a significant amount of engineering work,” which was essentially interpreted by many as; the company did not want to put in the work to make the game playable offline.
In addition, fans also took issue with the ending of the game Mass Effect 3, organizing online protests and letter writing campaigns demanding an extended cut for the RPG that was deemed incomplete, full of plot holes and lacking a final boss, among many complaints.
According to TechCrunch, Riccitiello’s resignation was not due to the failure of any one product, but rather a culmination of disappointing sales over the course of five years. The company said in a statement that its revenues for the current quarter will be at the “low end” with a net of between $1.1 and $1.2 billion.
EA also announced Tuesday that Sim City was a retail success despite its dismal response, having sold 1.1 million units in its first two weeks of availability.
A source close to the former CEO told the tech website that the edition is the bestselling Sim City to date, and that “no one was dying internally about” the backlash it received.
Having served as EA’s CEO since 2007 and its president and COO from 1997 to 2004, Riccitiello will officially relieve his position on March 30. EA’s Chairman of the Board, Larry Probst will step in as Executive Chairman until a permanent CEO is selected.
Another source close to Riccitiello told TechCrunch that Riccitiello was simply unable to keep up with the ever evolving world of gaming where expensive console games once dominated, but now mobile phones and tablets are taking over as the platform of choice for many developers.
“The truth is that the game industry continues to pivot very rapidly. EA is in a good place but it requires a lot of energy and laser focus…. He’s been pivoting the company hard for many years, but the industry keeps pivoting faster,” the source said.
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