"The Board will immediately initiate a search and both internal and external candidates will be considered for the CEO position," wrote EA board chairman Larry Probst in a public statement.
"Our business is built on more than a dozen powerful, globally recognized brands," Probst continued. "We are clear leaders in the fastest growing category in games – mobile – and we are positioned to lead on the next generation of consoles. Most importantly we have deep reserves of talent – new faces and industry veterans who form the core of EA's leadership."
Riccitiello's departure letter noted that while the company has made progress in quality and digital products, its financial performance is tracking below set expectations.
The company's public image isn't tracking very well either. We're still in the midst of the SimCity debacle, but that's only the latest in a string of high-profile failures that required great spin by the publisher. The expensive MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic went free-to-play after not catching on, while management issues have caused the company to miss an NBA title three years running. There are too many cases of "a hit missing."
Oh, also, if you're a Vegas bookie, put the Joystiq crew down for $10 on Chief Operating Officer Peter Moore as the heir apparent. Then again, there's always the chance of a Don Mattrick return.
Update: The Wall Street Journal has obtained the internal EA memo from Riccitiello to staff.