Speaking at a graduating class in UC Berkeley, EA CEO John Riccitiello says that the company managed to turn its failures into successes by learning from its mistakes.
He says that it's okay to fail as long as you "fail well." Riccitiello says that the company realized it was failing four years ago, but that it is beginning to turn its mistakes around by embracing the fact of its failures.
EA realized that in the years of 2007 and 2008, the company was suffering due to increased development costs, low quality games, and the rise of digital platforms and social networks was having an significant impact on the face of the game industry. Riccitiello says that the company had little choice but to "invest and re-tool for radical change."
Doing so meant cutting jobs and closing a number of studios, which caused Riccitiello to lose a number of friends—"smart, creative people who just couldn't stomach the transition."
"Some stopped believing, some left for what they thought were better offers with a quicker profit and payout," he said.
He believes he made the right choices, even if it was difficult to do. "We were students of our own failure, we used our failure to shape and impel is to a better strategy, one that we believe will ultimately succeed in ways that our previous strategy, even if perfectly executed, could never have done."
Riccitiello says that he is under no delusion that he has succeeded. "I'm not standing in front of shareholders in a flight suit claiming mission accomplished. The lesson isn't over, but we've learned a lot."
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