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EA CEO leaves amid SimCity saga

Electronic Arts has announced that its CEO, John Riccitiello, will step down, effective on 30 March.

Riccitiello is also resigning from EA's board of directors. Larry Probst has been named executive chairman and will oversee the search for a permanent CEO.

An executive search team will consider internal and external applicants, EA said in a statement.

Probst was CEO from 1991 to 2007.

"We thank John for his contributions to EA since he was appointed CEO in 2007, especially the passion, dedication and energy he brought to the company every single day," Probst said in a statement. "John has worked hard to lead the company through challenging transitions in our industry, and was instrumental in driving our very significant growth in digital revenues. We appreciate John's leadership and the many important strategic initiatives he has driven for the company. We have mutually agreed that this is the right time for a leadership transition."

In his own statement, Riccitiello said that he thought it was "the right time for me pass the baton and let new leadership take the company into its next phase of innovation and growth."

In a brief outlook statement, EA said it expects its revenue and earnings per share this quarter to be at the low end or lower than it predicted.

The move comes as EA is dealing with criticism over the release of SimCity. The trouble began earlier this month, when SimCity returned after a 10-year hiatus. The game requires that players be connected to the Internet to play, however, and EA's servers were quickly overloaded. EA has since been hard at work on server capacity, but players in general are irked that Internet access is required at all. Today, EA started providing players with access to a free game for their troubles.

EA's Riccitiello announcement made no mention of SimCity.