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Businesses Entertainment Games

EA CEO Larry Probst Steps Down 49

wjamesau writes "After 2006's rollercoast stock performance and amid criticism that the giant publisher had become over-reliant on sequels, Electronic Arts' CEO Larry Probst has just stepped down. GigaGamez reports, and wonders if this means other publishers will feel pressure to develop more original IP."
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EA CEO Larry Probst Steps Down

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  • by Rob T Firefly ( 844560 ) on Tuesday February 27, 2007 @11:46AM (#18167342) Homepage Journal
    EA have high hopes for their new CEO, Jeff Probst II.
  • Get his name right. (Score:2, Informative)

    by grub ( 11606 )
    Headline says "Probts", story says "Probst"
  • Well, Dell hired back a former CEO, so the chances are good either Larry Probst will be re-hired sometime within a year or a clone will suddenly appear.
  • by AKAImBatman ( 238306 ) * <{akaimbatman} {at} {}> on Tuesday February 27, 2007 @11:56AM (#18167444) Homepage Journal
    This is definitely *interesting* news, but it's questionable whether it will change anything. Even the best intentioned CEOs have a hard time risking their cash cows on untested brands and genres.

    Truth be told, I think EA needs to manage it like a stock portfolio. Have X amount of high risk, Y amount of medium risk, and Z amount of low risk. The actual percentages of those items can vary depending on the market climate and the status of the company.

    The advantage to a mixed strategy is that EA can continue to provide fans of a series with some sequels, but dial back the number in exchange for developing new genres and brands. Developing those brands could potentially provide EA with a sizable library of IP without having to stripmine the small development houses. That gives them a mixture of low and high risk. Something that can guarantee a positive cash flow when properly handled.

    For the medium risk stuff, EA should pull out some of their old IP and see about doing proper updates or sequels to them. Rather than just mining the name (as they have done in the past), they should give the development team a free hand to develop a game in the true spirit of the original. For example, Wing Commander is a series that is sorely missed by fans. It never really died, having been killed off by EA's strip mining procedures. What they need to do is go drag Point of No Return Entertainment out of their pit, and get Chris Roberts to direct a new WC game. The costs would be significant, but there is a significant market that would purchase the game just because it's Wing Commander. That mitigates the risk some, and provides EA with a chance to make incredible sums of money off the title.

    I suppose we'll have to see whether this new CEO shows the inititive to take his company in such a direction.

    On another topic, who thinks that Wing Commander is ripe for a reboot? :D
    • For example, Wing Commander is a series that is sorely missed by fans. It never really died, having been killed off by EA's strip mining procedures.
      EA is bringing back Wing Commander, and it looks awful [].
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by AKAImBatman ( 238306 ) *

        EA is bringing back Wing Commander, and it looks awful.

        That's not Wing Commander. That's just EA slapping the name on a quicky XBox Live! game to drive up sales. They do the same thing with their games. Take a look sometime and you'll find such gems as:

        - Generic Chopper Game -> Command & Conquer Attack Copter
        - Generic Racing Game -> Need for Speed Top Speed
        - Generic Golf Game -> Pebble Beach Golf
        - Generic Soccer Game -> EA Sports Soccer

        What I'd *like* them to do is stop mining their

    • That's actually how they manage it now.

      They do a ton of market analysis to help them make decisions and they do put out original work. Their problem with originality is that when it fails it fails big. (See Superman for the XBox 360 - it's not fun, but it's not fun in part because it's trying something new that didn't work out.)

      If they're in a bad spot now, I think it's because they classified everything for the Wii as "high risk" and managed accordingly.
      • That's actually how they manage it now.

        If they think that's how they manage it now, then they need to rethink what they're doing. Their games are sameness stacked on top of uniformity wrapped in a blanket of mediocrity. Case in point:

        See Superman for the XBox 360 - it's not fun, but it's not fun in part because it's trying something new that didn't work out.

        The only "high risk" was that they spent millions of dollars on a movie tie-in license. Otherwise it's just your basic Beat'Em Up with snazzy graphics.

        • dude, you're such a fud-spreading hoser, you intentionally added emphasis on the wrong part:

          ... What I think is going to be important to the future of this business, in addition to better graphics and better sound and smoother animation, is that we have to be better storytellers and that we start to create characters that people care about. I think that, longer term, (it will) help to broaden the demographics where we get more women into the demographic and even broaden the age demographic.

          For what it's wor

          • dude, you're such a fud-spreading hoser, you intentionally added emphasis on the wrong part

            No, I added emphasis to the part that has actually shown up in most EA games. The "story" gobbledegook is just that: gobbledegook. Games are not about their storylines. A storyline can do a great deal to improve a game, but it can also detract from it. Most of the "great" games of times gone by never had anything more than a token plot. (e.g. Sonic the Hedgehog, Street Fighter II, Pacman, Doom, Commander Keen, Duke Nu

  • *Larry* Probst.
  • by LoudMusic ( 199347 ) on Tuesday February 27, 2007 @12:00PM (#18167514)
    Jeff Probst is the Survivor host. []

    Larry Probst is the EA CEO. []

    Get your funny named rich people straight, sheesh.
  • This isn't too surprising because profits went in the tank last quarter, even though EA sales went through the roof. However, the next few months may be the time to buy: as the new management team dumps over-valued assets and generally cleans house, reported profits may go negative for a while, even though the general trend is that the company is making money.
  • He did this so he can focus his whole attention on hosting "Survivor", right?
  • by Yvan256 ( 722131 ) on Tuesday February 27, 2007 @12:26PM (#18167844) Homepage Journal

    the giant publisher had become over-reliant on sequels
    What? They do something else than sequels of sports games?

    EA has become to gaming what MS is to operating systems. And no, that's not a good thing(TM).
    • by Deag ( 250823 )
      I like their sports games, sorry but I just do.
      I know people don't like how they don't change drastically every year, but I kind of like the slow iterative process by which they improve. Eventually they should shut down the game play completely and only improve graphics, interface and how the leagues work.
      It would be nice if I could learn say Madden this year and be able to pick it up in ten years and be able to play it. How chess is played isn't drastically changed every year so something staying the same
      • by Yvan256 ( 722131 )
        You can like their sports games, and I do agree that sequels should at least be comparable in at least some way to the previous games.

        However, my point was, and still is, that EA only seems to make sports games. And they keep buying out smaller game companies, and the innovation dies a little every time.

        We need more Katamari Damacy and Loco Rocco type games. Otherwise, I'm still thinking we're heading for another game market crash.

        That, or videogames have become so mainstream that it's become like everythin
  • So he got voted off the EA island?
  • I get the impression they're overreliant on flogging their employees.
  • So the guy steps down from EA. The summary strikes me as a load of crap. You are telling me this guy got hurt feelings because people said they make too many sequels? Yeah, fine, I know this is just playing the typical Slashdot audience that cries constantly at the lack of innovation..but come on. EA makes games that sell very well (regardless of quality). Sequels have allowed them to make bundles of cash with less effort than starting from scratch. Is that good for the gamer? In this case, no. But
  • Headline is inaccurate - he got voted off the island.
  • Now he can work full time on producing Survivor.
  • ...yeah, but we STILL want SSX sequels.. THOSE were ok, ok?

    Let me play SSX 4 on xbox live and race against friends..
    I'd kind of like it on the wii as well, but in this case I've been pining for online play for too long, and I know more people with xbox 360s.
  • Please, EA. Stop with the (mostly) shitty game soundtracks, the real-time video backgrounds on menus which cause massive load times, and your generally long load times in general. I don't want to hear anymore goddamn Yellowcard or Fallout Boy, I don't want to wait 30 seconds to retry a race (after about 30 seconds in because I wreck) in Burnout Revenge, and I don't want to have to wait over A WHOLE MINUTE between races in Revenge's Multiplayer. However, SSX is exempt from the soundtrack rant because of th
  • Larry told me personally about ten years ago that he was starting to think about a successor. It just took a while to find one. His departure isn't in response to news stories, stock prices, or anything else. The man just wants to put his feet up. Considering how much money he has made for his shareholders, he's earned it. EA is very strong, and unlike the console manufacturers, doesn't have to spend colossal amounts of money bringing out a new platform every five or six years, with the huge risks that th
  • FTA: "Probst will stay on with the company as the executive chairman of the board of directors."

    Doesn't that mean he gets more of the company's profits but he doesn't get a regular paycheck?

    At first I thought this was just a publicity stunt by EA to show the customer's that they are listening about "sequel-itis." Now I'm thinking it may be more of setting Riccitiello up as a scapegoat in case "Spore" doesn't produce on time, as expected, etc. et al.

    Either way looks like Probst definitely isn't hurting no

%DCL-MEM-BAD, bad memory VMS-F-PDGERS, pudding between the ears