EA Anoints Dark Horse Candidate And EA Sports EVP Andrew Wilson As New CEO

EA elevated Andrew Wilson, the company’s executive vice president overseeing EA Sports, to the top position as the company’s new CEO. The other widely rumored internal contender was President of EA Labels Frank Gibeau.

Wilson is a young and hungry up-and-comer within EA who was looked at slightly later in the selection process, which has been going on for six months since previous CEO John Riccitiello stepped down.

He’ll be leading EA into a challenging era. The company not only has to manage multiple franchises on consoles; it is also trying to find its way in a new world where games are services and are free-to-play. In a letter EA published, Wilson reiterated that his top priority going into the next few years will be to focus on the company’s “continued transformation for our digital future.”

Wilson joined the company more than a decade ago, and led the company’s Asia online publishing group before serving as executive producer of EA’s very lucrative FIFA franchise. Notably, FIFA also saw respectable traction with in-game purchases. After that, he became the executive vice president overseeing EA Sports and then shepherded the company’s online, games-as-a-service platform Origin into existence.

In that sense, he has overseen products using the ‘packaged goods’ model of gaming and he has successfully worked in ‘free-to-play’ world as well. He’s also the first studio executive to serve as CEO. That hybrid mix of skills will be key to EA’s future. Financial “shortcomings” led to the sudden resignation of EA’s last CEO Riccitiello, in March after a six-year tenure. Essentially, EA is like a massive ship that has to balance stagnant growth for console platforms with the rise of emerging platforms like tablets and smartphones, which require entirely different revenue models.

Executive chairman Larry Probst announced the new appointment in a memo today. He said that Wilson is “a compelling and charismatic communicator who cares deeply about organizational development, teams, and the individual careers of people who work for EA. Most of all, he has a powerful sense of respect for and commitment to our consumers.”

Probst added that EA’s board of directors looked both inside and outside the company at a number of candidates. He said, “Andrew’s appointment is a clear demonstration of the deep bench of management talent at EA.”