EA CEO John Riccitiello has said EA failed to cope with the mobile, social and Internet revolution of the games industry, but that it failed well.
“Our profits were in rapid decline before they went entirely negative,” Riccitiello said, giving a commencement speech to the Haas business school.
“… I would argue we failed well. We are students of our own failure. We used our failure to shape and impel us to a better strategy. One that we believe will ultimately succeed in ways that our previous strategy, even if perfectly executed, could never have done.”
Speaking of the “unbelievable change” caused by “smartphones, social networks, and more recently the iPad — each of which has turned out to be a platform where gaming is the No. 1 application”, Riccitiello said EA faced a great deal of pessimism when it attempted to turn around from financial embarrassment.
“We knew it would be hard but we had no idea how hard. We had to do these three hard things when the press and the financial analysts told us we were crazy — that the cutting was great, but the investment in digital was just not a good idea.
“It proved very hard to hear the negative drumbeat while tackling very hard challenges at work.”
The executive admitted that the battle had not yet ben won.
“I wish I could tell you that it has all paid off,” he said. “That … we have been fully vindicated. Not yet. Yes, we’ve had a few wins but there is much more to do.”