* EA appoints insider Andrew Wilson as CEO
* Wilson was head of EA Sports and Origin
* Wilson managed EA's successful FIFA franchise
By Malathi Nayak
SAN FRANCISCO, Sept 17 Electronic Arts Inc
named its sports and digital games division head Andrew
Wilson as chief executive on Tuesday, appointing the 39-year-old
with a strong track record in leading game development after a
Wilson, who hails from Australia, joined Electronic Arts in
2000, climbing rapidly through the ranks in Asia and the United
He took the reins at EA Sports, which publishes blockbuster
titles such as soccer franchise "FIFA", as an executive
vice-president in August 2011. He also assumed responsibility
for the company's digital platform, "Origin", in April, leading
efforts to increase revenue from the game maker's fast-expanding
Wilson "was a safe choice as he is not going to shake things
up," said Colin Sebastian, an analyst at R.W. Baird.
"He's got credibility with developers in the studios, has
been successful in growing FIFA and, as he ran Origin, that
proves he has a digital pedigree as well."
Wilson said in a Tuesday blog post he will sustain the
company's investment in mobile gaming, the industry's
fastest-growing sector, along with traditional console-based and
personal computer gaming.
The executive spent much of his career at EA's
game-development studios, in roles revolving around game and
content production, gaining credibility at a company that prizes
In contrast, former CEO John Riccitiello who abruptly
stepped down in March after missed operational targets, joined
Electronic Arts after stints at Pepsico and Clorox
"Andrew is the first studio executive to serve as our CEO, a
testament to his blend of creative skills and business acumen,"
Executive Chairman Larry Probst said in a blog post on Tuesday.
Electronic Arts and rivals like Activision Blizzard Inc
have seen growth fall sharply as gamers flock to
free-to-play games on mobile devices or social networks.
In recent years, Electronic Arts has tried to buy startups
and invest in digital and mobile platforms while also trying to
grow its console game franchises.
To embrace new game platforms and adapt to consumer
behavior, Electronic Arts, which currently has 9,000 employees
worldwide, has been reorganizing its game studios and trimming
its staff in recent months.
Its shares were relatively unchanged in after hours trade
after closing at $27.60 on the Nasdaq.
Riccitiello left after six years at the helm. The company
has had some recent slip-ups, including a botched launch of
city-building game "SimCity" earlier this year, which was marred
by technical glitches.
Also, multiplayer online game "Star Wars: The Old Republic"
initially failed to sustain subscribers after launching amid
much hype in 2011 and the company now offers the game to users
Electronic Arts touts its two-decade old "FIFA" franchise as
one of its most successful game series. It has grown "FIFA" by
successfully offering a steady stream of online offerings and
digital versions to be played on mobile devices, alongside the
"If (Wilson) can replicate that across other franchises,
then EA as a whole will be better off," Sebastian said.
Like other publishers, the video game maker is now
positioning itself to take advantage of the next-generation
consoles like the Xbox One from Microsoft Corp and
PlayStation 4 from Sony Corp, which will both hit store
shelves in November.
The company has a strong lineup of games for the upcoming
consoles, including shooter "Battlefield 4" and a new sci-fi
battle game, "Titanfall".
Wilson starts at an annual base salary of $800,000 and is
eligible for a bonus of 150 percent of that upon hitting his
targets, the company said.