Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello has submitted his resignation to a boardroom of (presumably) stern-looking directors. The executive’s final day will be on 30th March, the close of the company’s fiscal year. After that, he’ll be forced to pack up his ballpoint pens and Commander Shepard figurines, and leave the Redwood-based organisation for pastures new.

Former company CEO and board chairman Larry Probst will temporarily take over the role while the firm searches for a replacement. "The board will immediately initiate a search, and both internal and external candidates will be considered for the CEO position," he said in an official statement. Naturally, ex-Microsoft man and current EA COO Peter Moore is the favourite to take the job.

"Our business is built on more than a dozen powerful, globally recognised 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."

In an open letter, Riccitiello noted that he was “accountable” for the shortcomings in EA’s upcoming financial results. “It currently looks like we will come in at the low end of, or slightly below, the financial guidance we issued to the Street, and we have fallen short of the internal operating plan we set one year ago. And for that, I am 100 per cent accountable,” he said.

EA has seen a number of setbacks under Riccitiello’s watch, including disastrous MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic and the recent SimCity debacle. The company’s also failed to ship a basketball title in three years, virtually handing the market to 2K Games’ critically acclaimed NBA 2K series. However, it hasn’t all been bad – the executive green lighted both Mirror’s Edge and Dead Space at the start of his tenure, as well as saw the FIFA franchise continue to snowball in both quality and popularity.

Riccitiello’s sincerity and genuine passion for gaming will certainly be missed, but with the next generation imminent, the timing of his departure certainly makes sense. “In a few weeks, I will be leaving EA physically. But I will never leave emotionally,” he concluded. “After March, I will be cheering wildly for EA from the sidelines.”

[via kotaku.com, joystiq.com]