EA CEO: Recent departures purely "coincidental"

Andrew Wilson says that there was no connection at all between the different departures at Criterion, PopCap and Chillingo

On the publisher's earnings call following its third-quarter results, EA CEO Andrew Wilson addressed a question from an analyst about the string of studio founders that all left the company within the span of a week at the beginning of January. Dave Roberts and Jason Kapalka decided to leave PopCap, Alex Ward and Fiona Sperry left Criterion to form a new company, and Chillingo founders Chris Byatte and Joe Wee also moved on from EA. Wilson said that the timing was simply coincidental, and he reiterated EA's passion for creative talent.

"As a company we're a creative organization. I came up through the creative side of the organization and I still have a deep passion for bringing in new creative talent and keeping our talent, but also as part of a creative industry people come and go for all kinds of different reasons. You've seen some recently have left and these changes happened to be announced in a short window, which was more coincidental than anything and there definitely was no connection between their departures," Wilson stressed.

"EA as an organization, we've got over 8,000 amazingly talented and creative people and we'd love to see these people have the opportunity to step up and lead our studios - guys like John Vechey at PopCap, Matt Webster at Criterion and Ed Rumley at Chillingo have all been at their respective studios for a long time and bring a lot of energy and enthusiasm and new creative thinking to their roles. These studios all have exciting work underway..."

Earlier in the call, there was lots of discussion about the new consoles, and EA banged its chest heavily, noting that its software sales on Xbox One and PS4 have been exceeding expectations. Peter Moore also said that we shouldn't forget about the large installed bases of the previous Xbox 360 and PS3, and he noted his belief that Microsoft and Sony will continue to support these aging systems.

"Having been around that Xbox business, I think Microsoft is committed to the 360 for a number of years and I anticipate both Sony and Microsoft getting behind their platforms at least for the next two years and bringing them to a 10-year cycle as we saw with the previous cycle," he said.

Moore's also been impressed with the replenishment of inventory for the new consoles and he reiterated his belief that the combined shipments for Xbox One and PS4 should eclipse 10 million worldwide by the end of the fiscal year in March.

As well as things have been going for the new consoles, however, there's still a bit of caution on the lips of execs at the publisher. CFO Blake Jorgensen noted, "I do think we're still in a bit of an air pocket between the new consoles coming out and the old consoles, where many of the consumers are still waiting on the sidelines and that's why you haven't seen one-for-one replacement in software. Our assumption is that'll start to go away over time and it'll settle into a normal Gen3 business.

"We still ship some Gen2 software so we think Gen3 will be around for some period of time and we think it'll be a viable part of our catalog going forward and it could grow if for some reason the prices came down on the Gen3 consoles and brought new consumers into the market in places around the world that have not yet had access to the boxes."

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Latest comments (4)

Chris Lewin Software Engineer, EA4 years ago
Wow. I'm impressed you can assign such a rich variety of meaning to a numbering system.
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Eric Boosman Creative Director, Dark Tonic4 years ago
So SNES and Genesis were actually GEN0 which is kind of cool. NES and SMS were Gen-1? 2600, Intellivision, ColecoVision Gen-2? It's confusing and I'm missing some steps probably.
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Mats Holm Technical Writer, Electronic Arts4 years ago
So, been in EA for a while, and I have heard many suggestions on why they call it 3rd or 4th gen. Some argue its iteration vs generation. I never got behind that one. Some argue its due to the Engine generation that was made from PS1 to PS2, so that was called a second generation of the engine, and the term stuck. I think this hits closer to the truth.
It could also be other stuff, like current console makers (not counting Nintendo) it is Sony's 4th generation and Microsofts 3rd. Some could argue that it was with PS1 that you could really start cross platform development. Others can say that while there existed a multitude of consoles before the PS1, generation shifts were not as clear cut as they were after this. Maybe it all started to pander to Sony?

I dunno, but I have been hearing this since I joined in 2008, and frankly no idea when it started. If you can find some really veteran EA people they might know how it all started.
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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 4 years ago
Others can say that while there existed a multitude of consoles before the PS1, generation shifts were not as clear cut as they were after this.
That's a weird one, since the shifts from NES to SNES to PS1 are far more clear-cut than PS1 to PS2. *frown*
Maybe it all started to pander to Sony?
I was thinking something similar, but also not... The PS was when games really hit the big time, and investors took more of an obvious interest in games companies. Perhaps it's to do with that? PS1 > PS2 > PS3 > PS4 = 4th gen? Makes it easier for investors (as opposed to gamers or historians) to mark time.
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