Matthew Roszak

In The Press Blog

How EA’s John Riccitiello sees the past few years of struggle

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Like many seasoned executives, Electronic Arts chief executive John Riccitiello believes that learning from failure is essential to success. He said so in a recent commencement speech at the Haas business schoolat the University of California at Berkeley, where he graduated in 1981.

Riccitiello’s speech revealed a few tidbits about how he has dealt with the past few years of struggle at EA. It also shows why he has stayed the course on a major effort to turn around EA’s business and adapt to a new world of games, even though others have taken pot shots at his strategy.

“I’ve had first-hand experience with failure, and I have had the opportunity to learn and recover from it,” Riccitiello said.

EA has had to deal with mass layoffs, a decline in the core game business, a shift toward high-quality games, the crash of traditional licensed games, and the rise of mobile and social network games. Dealing with that change and facing criticism along the way hasn’t been easy, Riccitiello said.

In the early 2000s, EA was by far the most successful company in the video game business. EA ruled on the market-leading PlayStation 2 platform and had a huge market capitalization and was on every “best of the best list.” By 2008, the story was much different. With the transition to the Xbox 360, the PlayStation 3, and the Wii, EA’s product quality suffered, its development costs skyrocketed, and EA had stopped growing.

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