After a search that lasted almost six months to the day, Electronic Arts confirmed that former executive producer for EA Sports Andrew Wilson, will be EA’s new CEO.
The 39-year old Wilson was considered a dark horse candidate at best, with COO Peter Moore and EA Lables President Frank Gibeau having been considered the front runners since former CEO John Riccitiello resigned in March.
The Australian born Wilson has been with EA since 2000, and for the last two years has been heading up EA Sports as its executive vice president, as well as overseeing EA’s digital distribution platform, Origin. Previously, Wilson worked for EA in the Asian and European markets, and was also a former executive producer on EA Sports’ FIFA franchise before becoming vice president.
“I am convinced that Andrew was an inspired choice by our Board, and one I expect the team at EA will enthusiastically support. Andrew is the first studio executive to serve as our CEO, a testament to his blend of creative skills and business acumen,” acting CEO and EA Executive Chairman Larry Probst said in EA’s official statement. “He is a compelling and charismatic communicator who cares deeply about organizational development, teams, and the individual careers of people who work for EA. Most of all, he has a powerful sense of respect for and commitment to our consumers.”
Wilson’s tenure begins immediately, and he takes over at a turbulent time for the publishing giant. Following nearly six years of decline that saw EA’s market cap drop from $17 billion to $5.6 billion, the resignation of Riccitiello also capped the often awkward balancing act between the transition towards mobile and casual gaming, and packaged games. Digital revenues have risen steadily, while packaged retails games continue to fall after a string of unsuccessful, big budget games like Medal of Honor Warfighter, and under-performing sequels like Dead Space 3 and Crysis 3.
Wilson also inherits the company just as the next generation of consoles approaches. The publisher is looking at opportunities with both the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One, but EA has shown a clear preference for Microsoft’s system. The publisher agreed to a deal that will offer Xbox One launch-day buyers in Europe a copy of FIFA 14 included, as well as making the eagerly anticipated Titanfall an exclusive for that system.
In his first statement as the new CEO, Wilson said that he felt EA’s strategy was sound, and in the short term the plan is to continue to deliver the products promised throughout the rest of the fiscal year. Following that, Wilson reiterated his commitment to moving towards EA’s “digital future,” making “amazing games and services,” and nurturing a culture that promotes profitable growth.
“From my start at EA in Australia back in 2000, through stops in Asia, Europe and now North America, I’ve worked with people in this company who have consistently amazed and inspired me,” Wilson said in the statement. “It’s my passion for our people and the great products we all impact that gives me such excitement for our future. I hope you all feel the same level of energy and optimism that I do as we embark on this journey together.”
“I envision EA as the World’s Greatest Games Company. This is not about what we are aiming for or what we will become. Rather, it is about an unfaltering commitment to what we will be every day. This is an attitude that must drive our culture as one team.”