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商业 - 科技

艺电CEO月底即将下台

Matt Vella 2013年03月21日

视频游戏发行商美国艺电在努力适应不断改变的游戏市场过程中,已经显得有些力不从心。预计该公司的收入和每股收益将处于1月份发布的指导值区间低端或更低。由于业绩欠佳,公司现任CEO将于3月底离职,而公司董事长将重新出山,暂时接管CEO一职。

    视频游戏发行商美国艺电(Electronic Arts,简称EA)近日宣布,公司CEO约翰•里奇蒂洛将于3月30日离职。

    艺电在发布给媒体的声明中称,公司将任命拉里•普罗布斯特担任执行董事长,同时寻找一位新领导者。普罗布斯特曾在1991年至2007年担任这家总部位于加州雷德伍德城的公司CEO,2007年由里奇蒂洛接任。普罗布斯特从1994年至今一直担任着艺电公司的董事长。

    艺电还表示,公司收入和每股收益将处于1月份发布的指导值区间低端或更低。该公司公布的2012年最后三个月的收入低于上年同期。艺电的动作恐怖游戏《死亡空间3》(Dead Space 3)登上了2月份最热销视频游戏榜首。但美国新视频游戏的零售额已连续15个月同比下滑。市场调研公司NPD Group的数据显示,2月份美国新视频游戏的硬件、软件和附属产品销售额较上年同期下降25%至8.10亿美元。

    艺电公司当前股价为18.71美元,远低于2007年里奇蒂洛接任CEO时的61.40美元。艺电将于5月7日发布2013年度财务报告。

    随着科技改变消费者玩的方式,视频游戏开发商和发行商进入了一个充满不确定性的时期。苹果(Apple)、谷歌(Google)等公司制造的设备日益侵蚀着任天堂(Nintendo)、索尼(Sony)等传统游戏机制造商的利润。同时,艺电、动视暴雪(Activision Blizzard)等游戏发行商在努力适应市场的过程中也开始力不从心。另外,数字销售也开始威胁到曾经稳定的零售业务。

    “我们感谢约翰为艺电所做出的贡献,”普罗布斯特在一份实现准备好的声明中称。“约翰努力领导公司走出我们行业所面临的转变挑战,同时在推动数字收入显著增长方面发挥了重要作用。”这一决定被描述为是双方共同协商的结果。

    在里奇蒂洛发给普罗布斯特的一份备忘录中,这位即将离职的CEO特别强调了公司不断增长的数字业务。在他的引领下,艺电打造了一个在线游戏平台Origin,通过互联网发布游戏。这家公司拥有《模拟人生》(The Sims)、《疯狂橄榄球》(Madden NFL)、《FIFA足球》(FIFA Soccer)和《极品飞车》(Need for Speed)等利润丰厚的特许收入,如今正在努力从手头的知识产权中获取更多收益。里奇蒂洛还主导了对热销游戏《宝石迷阵》(Bejeweled)开发商PopCap的收购。

    但艺电向更以数字业务为主导的转型进行得并不顺利。18日早间,这家公司宣布,PC游戏《模拟城市》(Sim City)开售两周内销量已超过110万。约54%的销售是通过Origin平台下载的数字版。

    但这款游戏由于严重的技术问题,在游戏评论界备受批评。有好几天,玩家在下载这款游戏时都出现了问题,因为需求大大超出了艺电服务器的承受能力。这些技术问题至今没有完全解决,导致一些游戏评论家更改了最初的评价,调低了曾经推助销售的高评分。艺电宣布,公司将为注册用户提供一款免费游戏,作为补偿。

    2007年,里奇蒂洛接任CEO时,他的任务是要想办法降低开发主流游戏的巨额费用。艺电公司像《战地3》(Battlefield 3)这样的热门游戏所占的预算螺旋上升,动辄就能达到数亿美元。他也曾发誓要在动画、电视、电影和玩具等领域寻找新的收入来源。

    虽然也有一些成功案例,但里奇蒂洛并没有什么特别重大的成就。NPD的数据显示,动视暴雪Skylanders游戏的特许收入自2011年上市以来,仅在美国就创造了超过6亿美元的收入;这款游戏对低龄儿童很有吸引力。动视暴雪先前宣布,这款游戏的全球特许收入已超过了10亿美元。据艺电内部估算,2012年,《小龙斯派罗:巨人》(Skylanders Giants)和《小龙斯派罗的大冒险》(Skylanders Spyro's Adventure)玩具在美国和欧洲的总销售额超过了《战斗陀螺》(Beyblades)、《星球大战》(Star Wars)和《变形金刚》中的动作明星玩具。(财富中文网)

    Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello will step down on March 30, the video game publisher announced today.

    In a statement to the press, EA (EA) said it was naming Larry Probst as executive chairman while it searches for a new leader. Probst was the Redwood City, California-based firm's CEO from 1991 to 2007, when Riccitiello took over. Probst has served as EA's chairman since 1994.

    EA also said its revenue and earnings-per-share will be at the low end or below its January guidance. The company reported lower revenue for the last three months of 2012 than it did for the same period a year earlier. EA had the top-selling video game in February with its action-horror title Dead Space 3. But U.S. retail sales of new video games fell for the fifteenth straight month, year over year. Sales of new video game hardware, software and accessories fell 25% from a year earlier to $810 million in February, the NPD Group reported.

    The publisher's stock is trading at $18.71, down from a $61.40 in 2007 when Riccitiello took over as CEO. EA will announce results for fiscal 2013 on May 7.

    Video game makers and publishers are entering a period of uncertainty as technology alters the way consumers play. Increasingly, gadgets made by the likes of Apple (AAPL) and Google (GOOG) are eating into the profits of traditional console manufacturers like Nintendo (NTDOY) and Sony (SNE). Game publishers EA and rival Activision Blizzard (ATVI), in turn, have had mixed results trying to adapt. In addition, digital sales have begun threatening the once-steady retail business.

    "We thank John for his contributions to EA," said Probst in a prepared statement. "John has worked hard to lead the company through challenging transitions in our industry, and was instrumental in driving our very significant growth in digital revenues." The decision was described as a mutual.

    In a memo sent by Riccitiello to Probst, the outgoing chief highlighted the company's growing digital business. At his direction, EA created an online games platform dubbed Origin to distribute titles over the Internet. The company, which controls lucrative franchises such as The Sims, Madden NFL, FIFA Soccer, Need for Speed, has tried to find ways to make more of the considerable intellectual property it owns. Riccitiello also oversaw the acquisition of PopCap, a mobile games maker that created the popular Bejeweled.

    But EA's transition to a more digitally oriented business hasn't gone smoothly. Earlier today, it announced that it had sold more than 1.1 million copies of its city-building PC game Sim City in the first two weeks it was available. About 54% of those sales were digital versions, downloaded via Origin.

    But the launch was widely derided in the games press for severe technical difficulties. For days, players had trouble downloading the game because demand overwhelmed EA's servers. The technical issues, which have not yet been entirely resolved, caused some reviewers to revisit their initial assessment, lowering high scores that can drive sales. EA announced it would give registered users a free title to make up for the problems.

    In 2007, Riccitiello's incoming mandate was to find ways to pare down the sometimes massive costs associated with developing mainstream titles. Budgets for high-profile games like EA'sBattlefield 3 can easily spiral into the hundreds of millions of dollars. He also vowed to find new revenue streams in comics, television, films and toys.

    Despite a few successes, Riccitiello had yet to score an outsized hit. Activision's Skylanders franchise, which appeals to younger children, generated more than $600 million in the U.S. alone since its October 2011 launch, according to NPD. Activision previously announced that the franchise had surpassed the $1 billion in global sales. In 2012, the combined sales of Skylanders Giants and Skylanders Spyro's Adventure toys out-sold the top action figure lines in the U.S. and Europe, including Beyblades, Star Wars and Transformers, according to the company's internal estimates.

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