Who Will Be Electronic Arts’ New CEO? Here Are Some Options

Larry Probst, Chairman of the Board

When Riccitiello took over as CEO of EA in 2007, he took the job from Larry Probst, who stayed on as executive chairman of the board, and Probst is taking back the job during the transition from the current CEO to his replacement. Riccitiello previously was COO under Probst before the former left EA to start private equity firm Elevation Partners.

Probst has been with Electronic Arts almost since its beginning, first joining the company in 1984 as vice president of sales and serving as CEO from 1991 until 2007, succeeding EA founder Trip Hawkins. The end of Probst’s tenure saw EA dethroned as the largest publisher by Activision-Blizzard, a position it has so far not been able to regain. Soon after, Probst hired Riccitiello to be his replacement, as he transitioned primarily into the role of chairman of the board of Electronic Arts. He has experience in running the company, although EA didn’t have the best image during his tenure.

Probst’s time as the leader of EA was the beginning of its public image as some kind of “evil empire,” as the publisher was known for purchasing smaller developers with exciting products, and then eventually shuttering many of those studios when games failed to hit financial goals. It was also a time when EA’s sports games were both extremely relevant and criticized for yearly iterations, often without much in the way of significant changes. Practices such as these didn’t endear players to EA, but even still, Probst’s time as CEO saw EA’s stock prices at many of its highest points, and the company had a lot of success with him leading it. Still, when Riccitiello took over in 2007, he was able to make at least some changes both to EA’s direction and its public image.

While Probst is a steady hand in the role of CEO and has held the job before, it seems unlikely that he will retain the post beyond the “transition” period as a new, permanent leader is found for the company. In addition to being on EA’s board and its single largest individual shareholder, he’s also chairman of the U.S. Olympic Committee, a post to which he signed on for an additional four years in December. The 2014 Olympics are fast approaching and will likely take up a good deal of Probst’s time, so that may well take him out of the running for holding the job long-term.

Frank Gibeau, President of EA Labels

Frank Gibeau’s career at Electronic Arts started rather inauspiciously — he got a job as a play tester in 1991, after an injury stopped him from taking a job as a copier salesman. From that entry level position, Gibeau climbed the ladder at EA, working in marketing and on the corporate side of development to eventually become president of EA Labels. Like Moore, Gibeau has spent time heading up big portions of EA that are actually responsible for producing games.

EA had a number of big successes during Gibeau’s time heading the EA Games division from 2007 to 2011, including the launches of the Dead Space franchise, Mass Effect 2 and the Dragon Age franchise, the Need for Speed franchise and more. By the same token, however, one could count him at least partly responsible for a number of big missteps by EA during his time as president of EA Labels: like the botched launch of SimCity, the Mass Effect 3 ending disaster, the tumultuous situation surrounding Star Wars: The Old Republic, and the controversy created by reskinned year-to-year iterations of FIFA titles.

Gibeau has experience across a number of games and genres, and the years he spent both as a player and a play tester make him potentially more of an actual gamer than his colleagues. His climb in EA also means he has spent time working directly with developers in several capacities, including on the marketing side and in managing areas like finance and the like. He has also been an advocate for PC gaming, and of the free-to-play model of games since 2011, and has said he expects free-to-play to become the dominant pricing model for games by the end of the decade.

As president of EA Labels, Gibeau said last year he hadn’t greenlit any games that consisted of only single-player experiences, opting instead for games that were multiplayer or “connected” through online social components. As with Moore, Gibeau’s apparent ideals continue to lean toward a future in which gaming is mostly a connected experience, with a lower financial barrier of entry to getting players into games, and more emphasis on micro-transactions and free-to-play models.

Join the Conversation   

* required field

By submitting a comment here you grant GameFront a perpetual license to reproduce your words and name/web site in attribution. Inappropriate or irrelevant comments will be removed at an admin's discretion.

13 Comments on Who Will Be Electronic Arts’ New CEO? Here Are Some Options

folklore

On March 20, 2013 at 7:00 pm

All the in house replacements so far look terrible. while I myself do not want a market dominated by f2p games that require micro transactions to even play the game. Nor do i want to be connected to everyone else. I generally play games to enjoy single player and not bother with the messy thing that is human interaction.

Foehunter82

On March 20, 2013 at 7:58 pm

They need new blood. It’s as simple as that. They need a complete outsider who has the experience and passion to make games. They need…….Kotick. :)

No, but seriously, I think they need a complete outsider, someone who has never actually worked for EA before but has experience not only with developing games, but also with actually playing games.

folklore

On March 20, 2013 at 8:10 pm

@foehunter
that would probably be the only way they could turn themselves around. As it stands I’m not filled with confidence by any of the options that seem apparent. I just hope they win the worst company in America award again. hopefully winning two years running might put some sense in them.

gasmaskangel

On March 20, 2013 at 8:44 pm

EA needs an outsider. Preferably someone who will muzzle Peter Moore any time he opens his mouth to say something stupid like “all game will have microtransactions”.

Axetwin

On March 21, 2013 at 4:32 am

Whoever wins…..we lose.

George Kennedy

On March 21, 2013 at 10:52 am

Other candidates include Alan B’Stard, Scrooge McDuck, Kevin Spacey’s character in Swimming With Sharks, and Jafar.

R.J.

On March 21, 2013 at 4:07 pm

I think EA would do itself a huge favor by hiring somebody from outside the company. As was noted, the internal candidates have been there for years and were there for the situations that likely led to Riccotelo leaving. It’s hard to believe anything would be fixed if people like that were hired. The public image of EA is the lowest of any major publisher, and gamers aren’t going to buy it if somebody like Peter Moore says that things will change when he was there for all the things people haven’t liked.

Matt Low

On March 21, 2013 at 4:09 pm

Gordon Ramsay.

Kevin

On March 21, 2013 at 8:11 pm

Will we get white smoke from the chimney at the EA conclave?

Roy Batty

On March 21, 2013 at 8:29 pm

@ Kevin

Yes; the white smoke will be the remains of unsold copies of ME3 and SimCity EULAs.

Foehunter82

On March 21, 2013 at 10:48 pm

@Matt Low: That would be an improvement.

@Roy Batty: That’s what I call a burning platform.

Zach

On March 23, 2013 at 12:14 am

Morgan Freeman. That is all.

SevenCell

On March 24, 2013 at 3:47 pm

@ GameFront You forgot Lucifer.