In a surprising move, Electronic Arts' president and COO John Riccitiello has announced that he is to resign from the industry-leading publisher, effective immediately, with CEO Larry Probst to assume his duties while a replacement is sought.
Although he will remain with the publisher for a transition period, which is expected to be short, EA has already begun the hunt for a replacement - and is said to be considering both internal and external candidates for what is effectively the top job in the game publishing industry.
Riccitiello is departing the company in order to create a new venture capital fund focusing on technology and entertainment, a project for which he will be partnering with VC industry veteran Roger McNamee.
He leaves EA on a high note; the company's growth has proceeded unabated with his hand on the tiller over the past few years, and it now dominates the publishing industries in both Europe and North America, while its share price continues to rise and is widely considered to be one of the most secure investments the games sector has to offer.
"My time at EA was the best work experience in my life," Riccitiello said in the statement announcing his decision to depart. "Personally, it is time to do something different and I intend to start a private equity business. I'm leaving EA when the company is enriched with the best people, the best properties and a very bright future."