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Electronics Arts CEO Ousted In Wake of SimCity Launch Disaster 427

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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  • by neminem ( 561346 ) <neminem&gmail,com> on Monday March 18, 2013 @06:54PM (#43208495) Homepage


    Also more likely the first to say: its != it's. Yay for slashdot editors.

  • Fired? What? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Mashiki ( 184564 ) <> on Monday March 18, 2013 @06:56PM (#43208525) Homepage

    The guy tendered resignation. [] The letter he wrote is in that link there. Besides of that EA has been all over the place in terms of performance for awhile. I picked up a few hundred shares at $12 ~6mo ago and sold them at $18.50, which while not a spectacular turn around was decent enough.

  • by hawguy ( 1600213 ) on Monday March 18, 2013 @06:59PM (#43208573)

    He'll somehow have to scrape by on 24 months of full pay (and stock vesting): []

    As part of Riccitiello's separation agreement, he'll receive 24 months of salary continuation and continued vesting of unvested stock options until Nov. 30, 2013, with those options exercisable until Feb. 28, 2014.

  • by Anonymous CowWord ( 635850 ) on Monday March 18, 2013 @07:01PM (#43208597)

    Good God.

    I know this is /. and no one RTFA and all but seriously, at least try to search for key words like "Sim" or "City" before submitting an article with a moronic sensationalist headline like this.

    His resignation has nothing to do with Sim City. Dream on.

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

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 18, 2013 @07:04PM (#43208629)

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

    This isn't necessarily about DRM. EA is going to miss the financial projections they made at the end of Jan. He's leaving before the board and shareholders come after him with pitchforks.

  • Its first major toll (Score:3, Informative)

    by GrahamCox ( 741991 ) on Monday March 18, 2013 @07:22PM (#43208803) Homepage
    "The disastrous launch of SimCity took it's first major toll

    Look, I'm getting sick of this. Just leave out the fucking unnecessary apostrophes OK? What are you, 7? How hard is it to learn the bloody rule and use it? Not hard at all - I've known it since I was seven!

    I do not expect to see this happen ever again. Thankyou.
  • Re:Fired? What? (Score:4, Informative)

    by DerekLyons ( 302214 ) <> on Monday March 18, 2013 @07:30PM (#43208885) Homepage

    When a board member calls up the CEO and says that it's unanimous, it's time for you to leave, the CEO can either save face and "resign", or let the board officially vote them out. Regardless of what they're calling it, "fired" is probably an accurate description.

    Yep, at that level you're rarely publicly 'fired'... You just come back to the office after lunch and find on your desk the equivalent of a pistol with a single round in it. Everyone (involved) knows what that means.

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

    by jbolden ( 176878 ) on Monday March 18, 2013 @07:33PM (#43208909) Homepage

    A board of directors is generally responsible for things like regulatory issues. They may not even know what Sim City was until it became a PR disaster.

    Paul Vivek -- from GE
    Leonard Coleman -- from Heinz and baseball team owner (probably helps on sports licensing)
    Jay Hoag -- finance guy
    Jeffrey Huber -- adverting
    Maffei -- media
    Ubinas -- Ford
    Simonsian -- mobile expert
    3 ex EA guys

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

    by jest3r ( 458429 ) on Monday March 18, 2013 @07:59PM (#43209135)

    Riccitiello's 10-point plan to Success

    1. Buy Franchise
    2. Water Down Experience for Casual Players
    3. Add Online
    4. Add Co-op
    5. Add Gritty Camera Filters
    6. Overwork Developers
    7. Pretend Game is Finished
    8. Add DLC / Make Old Features New by Converting Them to DLC
    9. Pay for Good Reviews
    10. Hype the Fuck Out of The Game

  • Re:Fired? What? (Score:4, Informative)

    by timmyf2371 ( 586051 ) on Monday March 18, 2013 @08:15PM (#43209311)
    The letter is a PR stunt and reads as such. Who really puts something like this in a resignation letter?

    "EA is an outstanding company with creative and talented employees, and it has been an honor to serve as the Company's CEO," Riccitiello said in a statement. "I am proud of what we have accomplished together, and after six years I feel it is the right time for me pass the baton and let new leadership take the Company into its next phase of innovation and growth. I remain very optimistic about EA's future — there is a world class team driving the Company's transition to the next generation of game consoles."
  • by dmomo ( 256005 ) on Monday March 18, 2013 @08:39PM (#43209485)

    We are all assuming that this is specifically because of the botched Sim City release. While it may be very compelling and possibly even obvious to think so, there is no mention of SimCity in the article. It's all speculation by the poster. It might be true, but it makes for a slanted summary. You can see from this thread that it had a definite affect on the discussion.

    An article I read on Forbes today about this didn't mention Sim City as a reason either. The announcement came with the report that Q4 earnings at EA were lower than expected. The server issues, may have had something to do with this and maybe even a big part, but the summary jumps to conclusions. Pretty much this entire thread is following suit.

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

    by Samantha Wright ( 1324923 ) on Monday March 18, 2013 @09:12PM (#43209769) Homepage Journal

    the biggest disaster ever

    Not just one—he was CEO since 2007. That makes him responsible for Spore and everything in between. And a bit before that, probably.

  • by GrahamCox ( 741991 ) on Monday March 18, 2013 @09:23PM (#43209849) Homepage
    You're wrong.

    Do whatever you want - it's you who looks like an ignoramus, not me.
  • by Gorobei ( 127755 ) on Monday March 18, 2013 @09:37PM (#43209935)

    It's not the DRM (a real screw-up) but the fact that the entire underlying game is borked.

    All that cool "model each sim, global structure emerges" rather than "model the global structure, visualize it with animations of sim" seems to be faked. All the fakery means the global structure of the game is just broken: you can't build a large functional city in any reasonable way.

    For example, sims leave work, drive home, and pick the first random house they see. They they get wealthy/educated for the next day based on the house they are in. Sure, you get some emergent structure, but it's nothing like a real city or even previous simcity games.

    Path-finding seems borked: shortest path is picked over fastest path. All your fire-trucks race to the single closest fire. Left-turns are a recipe for endless traffic jams. Forget using mass transit usefully.

    The YouTube videos show all this. It seems beyond fixing, unless they can revert to the old statistical simulation model somehow: one PC doesn't have enough compute to run a large city - they could offload to the cloud (ha, they aren't going that,) or rope the GPU into doing clever sim work (that's a research project.)

  • by Stolpskott ( 2422670 ) on Tuesday March 19, 2013 @03:08AM (#43211321)

    I have a hard time accepting that. Rollercoaster Tycoon, released 14 years ago, was able to simulate a theme park with 1,000s of actors without too much difficulty. I remember the game was able to run pretty well on my Pentium 2 at the time.

    Comparing the processors, I see that today's i3s run about 100x more flops than p2. (i3 ~ 25 Gflops, p2 ~ 0.23 Gflops).

    Given the resources that EA/Maxis has (compared with 1 developer programming the whole thing), I think they probably could have programmed it to simulate ~100,000 citizens at acceptable speed on midrange hardware. So I think it probably boiled down to more a question of priority than possibility.

    Gorobei's point is that the simulation approach to SC5 is fundamentally different to the older "Sim" games - the older games, as you say, modelled the entire organism (theme park, in the case of Rollercoaster Tycoon) and generated the actors within that simulation based on a group of relatively simple statistical behaviours - a certain percentage will head for the next ride, a certain percentage will puke as they come off the rollercoaster (always a goal of mine when playing that game), some will go and eat, and so on. The graphics are then generated to put a visual representation on those statistical behaviours.
    SC5, on the other hand, turns that model upside down - now, instead of having a single simulated organism (the theme park or city) with a small number of centres for behaviour collection (rides in the theme park, city zones/buildings/events in Sim City) for which to generate the statistical behaviours that your actors will show, now each individual actor is their own organism - the model is too complex to resort to "averaging" and modeling the overall system, but it is not complex enough to give each actor enough behaviours to be able to form creative solutions such as taking a detour around a road block.
    In that sense, SC5 is going in the right direction, but until the models for the actors are complex enough that they can appear semi-intelligent, the gameplay result is going to feel inferior to what it has replaced.

  • A PC could easily handle that level of simulation because you don't have to calculate everything every frame. The simulation is asynchronous to the GUI.

Don't tell me how hard you work. Tell me how much you get done. -- James J. Ling