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Electronics Arts CEO Ousted In Wake of SimCity Launch Disaster 427

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the onward-to-ruin-the-next-company dept.
mozumder writes "The disastrous launch of SimCity took its first major toll, with EA CEO John Riccitiello being fired from his position and removed from the Board of Directors. It is unknown what effect this may have on the SimCity franchise or any future DRM of EA games, but clearly someone didn't think their cunning plan all the way through when they decided to implement always-on connections for single-player gaming."
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Electronics Arts CEO Ousted In Wake of SimCity Launch Disaster

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  • Is this a first? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MickyTheIdiot (1032226) on Monday March 18, 2013 @06:56PM (#43208519) Homepage Journal

    Serious question... is this the first time an exec was ousted for a mistake with DRM?

  • How about SWTOR? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Billly Gates (198444) on Monday March 18, 2013 @06:57PM (#43208551) Journal

    I still play that game and it was sooo fucking close to a Wow killer. They rushed it without dailies and raids to meet Christmas projection marks in some accountants spreadsheet and they killed the game cards and the expansion at the store and gave up too early.

    I do not care what other say about SWTOR it is not failure and much better. Bioware did great things and they got rid of great people too quickly. Another 6 months when SWTOR had the dailies, raids, and fixes it would have 3x the amount of subscribers.

    What a shame and I am irritated as I do not want to go back to Wow.

  • by dfn5 (524972) on Monday March 18, 2013 @07:02PM (#43208609) Journal
    Pinball Construction set for the Mac 512. The 800k floppy disk was DOA. Was I ever pissed. Got a free hat for my trouble, though, so...
  • Restoring Trust (Score:3, Interesting)

    by onyxruby (118189) <onyxruby@@@comcast...net> on Monday March 18, 2013 @07:10PM (#43208679)

    When the spokeswoman for Electronic Arts stated that they would try to restore trust with their users I never fathomed that they would actually follow that up with action. I cannot begin to overstate my congratulations to the board of Electronic Arts for doing the right thing and ousting a CEO that had declared his customers the defacto enemy.

    When the lies came out that the online requirement was for server processing I took it as yet another BS statement from a company that held it's customers in contempt. When customers showed how easily you could play offline the lie was exposed and Maxis / EA was forced to admit the truth. I never expected that action would come out of this, and must say I am surprised by this as anything in technology in twenty years. Congratulations to EA for taking a step in trying to restore the trust of your customers.

  • Re:Odd (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DrGamez (1134281) on Monday March 18, 2013 @07:16PM (#43208741)
    I would -love- if this was because of SimCity, but this entire summary is pretty suspect. It smells really bad of wanting to push forward the idea that "Simcity is a failure, and with it, takes EA".

    Like I said, I'd love if this was true - but there are many other reason for the CEO to step down outside of SC5. Not saying the whole mess didn't help him/the board finalize on the decision - but lets not turn into Kotaku levels of terrible summaries here.
  • Re:Pure speculation (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mark-t (151149) <markt&lynx,bc,ca> on Monday March 18, 2013 @07:56PM (#43209113) Journal

    Except there's not enough circumstantial evidence to really come to any conclusions here in that regard. What we have here is a story submitter who read far more between the lines of a story about a recent event than was actually published, most likely as a result of something that they wanted or already had expected to be true. Scientific skepticism demands that all the evidence be considered... not just that which might serve a particular desirable outcome, and that might mean waiting a little while to see what happens.

    It stands to reason that if the submitter's proposed reasons for the "resignation" are accurate, then eventually the truth should come out about that matter. At the very least, if those reasons are accurate, then it seems that EA should start taking measures to prevent the situation from repeating. So... wait. And see.

    Otherwise, it's just a conspiracy theory.

  • Re:Finally! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Monday March 18, 2013 @08:15PM (#43209309)

    It's not like departing under good conditions pays worse than departing under bad ones.

    His career just got derailed. Who's gonna hire a guy who presided over the biggest disaster ever at his previous company? Leaving on good terms, or quitting, or resigning, all have the potential for later career opportunities. Getting fired and told you're a complete and abject failure? Not so much.

  • Re:Is this a first? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by im_thatoneguy (819432) on Monday March 18, 2013 @08:26PM (#43209397)

    Serious question... was he fired for Sim City or everything except for Sim City?

    EA is celebrating the biggest SimCity launch of all time even as overall the video game maker missed operational targets for the year. Late Monday, CEO John Riccitiello resigned, taking responsibility for the overall poor performance.

    I highly doubt EA's quarterly report includes Sim City already. More likely it was every game except for Sim City--and had nothing to do with DRM in the slightest.

  • Re:Is this a first? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by flimflammer (956759) on Monday March 18, 2013 @08:33PM (#43209449)

    Who the hell modded this troll? This is exactly right. As much as I want this to be about SimCity, this is about a lot of things, including but primarily because of their financial position over the past few years. There is no direct correlation between always on DRM and his departure.

    So no, this wasn't the amazing win for anti-DRM efforts we all want it to be. That doesn't mean this situation won't help, though.

  • Re:Finally! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Monday March 18, 2013 @09:01PM (#43209683)

    He just took one for the team is all. The team being the rest of the board of directors. He'll get a nice departure bonus, and end up on the board of some other company.

    Citation needed. You need to back it up with a study or something if you're going to claim that with the vast majority of job titles, if you screw up and get fired, it hurts your career, yet for this specific job title, the rules do not apply. What you're describing is a popular myth. While it is true that there is an "elite" club of very wealthy individuals who control much of the wealth and resources in this country, it is possible to fall out of that circle if you cause others in it to lose money, especially in a dramatic fashion like this. Simple logic demands this outcome -- how else would they remain wealthy if they continually made bad investment decisions?

  • Re:Finally! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tompaulco (629533) on Monday March 18, 2013 @09:33PM (#43209923) Homepage Journal
    Ok, I'll pull the first couple of hits on google for fired CEOs.
    Scott Thompson, fired from Yahoo. Hired on by Shoprunner.
    Léo Apotheker, fired from HP. Hired on as Chairman of the Board for DMK.
    Dick Fuld, CEO of Lehman Brothers, went on to work at Matrix Advisors and Legend Securities. He is the #1 ranked worst CEO in history by portfolio.com.
    To say nothing of CEOs who have run their companies into the ground and have been rewarded by not getting fired at all and keeping their cushy jobs.
  • by Gorobei (127755) on Monday March 18, 2013 @10:17PM (#43210171)

    Agreed, but what do you expect them to sample?

    A global statistical model? They claim not to have one.

    A Population of actors doing rational things? They didn't seem to implement one.

  • by Y-Crate (540566) on Monday March 18, 2013 @10:38PM (#43210275)

    As he refuses to greenlight single player games. [geek.com]

    Which should not be construed as even a suggestion that the man should lose his job. I don't believe the appropriate response here would be to destroy a man's livelihood. I would like him to reconsider his policy, though.

  • Re:Finally! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Monday March 18, 2013 @10:42PM (#43210297)

    Scott Thompson, fired from Yahoo. Hired on by Shoprunner.

    Fired for lying on his resume [cinemablend.com], not because he ran the company into the ground. Despite this, he went from being the man in charge of a company on the Fortune 500 list (barely, at 483), to being in charge of a company that, uhh... doesn't even have a wikipedia page. I had to dig this [cnbc.com] up to find out what the company even did. It's a startup company nobody's ever heard of.

    Léo Apotheker, fired from HP. Hired on as Chairman of the Board for DMK.

    HP: Ranked the 10th largest company on the Fortune 500 list. Lost over $300 billion in market capitalization under Apotheker's leadership [cnet.com].
    DMK: Doesn't exist.
    KMD: Does exist... and is a Danish IT firm with 3,000 employees. Is not on the list. Also... Chairman of a board is not the same as CEO of a company, so it's a false analogue anyway! But let's say he was the CEO -- he went from one of the largest companies on Earth to some tiny po-dunk company in another country.

    Dick Fuld, CEO of Lehman Brothers, went on to work at Matrix Advisors and Legend Securities.

    Lehman Brothers: Suffered a total existance failure under Dick's fearless leadership. Was only publicly traded for about a decade before folding. In other words, a nothing commanded by a nobody.

    Matrix Advisors and Legend Securities: A hedge fund. It's not even a proper company. And it's primary source of income? The money that Dick was able to hide from creditors when he bankrupted both himself and his former company. Like, for example, the mansion he purchased just before it went under that he sold to his wife for $100 to evade creditors.

    So as you can see, each of these people didn't get to "keep their cushy jobs"... every mistake led to a dramatic downward step in their cash flow. Far from proving me wrong, you've managed to brilliantly prove my point: CEOs get just as big of a black mark when they're fired as "the peons" do. All three of the examples you provided resulted in someone being a CEO on paper only -- they were never given a real company, with real money, to play with again.

  • by dcollins (135727) on Tuesday March 19, 2013 @12:09AM (#43210705) Homepage

    It wasn't the "voting with dollars" that did this (or rather non-voting), and I would continue to argue that individual purchases don't do dick. What made a difference here was PUBLIC SPEECH, outrageously bad reviews, blog posts, and forum discussions. This is what forced EA spokespersons to take up the issue publicly and make detailed responses; the wildfire of public condemnation. And communities organizing to protest and boycott in the future.

    Probably more difference was made by people who DID buy the game, and reported honestly how wretched it was, then someone like myself, who never had any prospect of even possibly buying this game.

  • by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) on Tuesday March 19, 2013 @06:23AM (#43211809)
    He's a figurehead and a spokesperson at big events, but ultimately is only as good as his advisors and staff. He can't be at every interview for coders, or even interviews for the HR people who hire the coders. He has to trust his staff to do their job, and they didn't. I see this as more of a marketing selling an idea up the food chain, and dev trying their best to hold it together while sticking to their ridiculous deadlines.

    The next CEO will be in exactly the same position, because everyone else responsible is still in their position of responsibility.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 19, 2013 @07:43AM (#43212039)

    Have you even played the game? I've clocked about 40 hours and the sims really do go into teh first available house. And the schoolbusses all go to the same stop. And all the moving vans spawn at the exact same time.

    Freight does nothing.

    Sims will not cross the road to go shopping even if they have money and the shop is of the right level.

    If you have a single tourist in your city then the simulation builds hundred or perhaps thousands of hotel beds... then the hotels gets abandoned because they don't have costumers and you demolish it and start again hoping that it won't turn into a useless hotel.

    If there is a hidden proper simulation then it is disabled or being ran on so few sims that it's virtually untracable.

  • by DarkOx (621550) on Tuesday March 19, 2013 @07:57AM (#43212087) Journal

    I don't disagree with anything you said, but just as much as its not DRM (borked), its not the game play (borked) but the marketing failure he is being ousted for.

    From what I have seen there is simply no indication anyone writing official communications from EA recognizes the problems from our perspective. As far as they are concerned they think "he did not sell it right", and as far as the investors/sheep/dollars and cents all play together they might be correct.

    Yea its pretty disappointing as product but I don't think that is what is driving the musical chairs game starting to play out at EA.

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