Not many would have survived EA’s battles

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Frank-Gibeau-screenshots-1Frank Gibeau, the executive in charge of Electronic Arts’ games divisions and a contender for the newly vacated CEO job, has said few companies would have survived the transition EA has undergone.

Since 2007 EA has fought through a painful business realignment from a traditional packaged goods publisher to a more flexible digital-first company. The transition has not been the smoothest; investors’ patience was tested when the company posted more than ten consecutive quarters of net losses, while job cuts have resulted in hundreds of staff exiting the group.

But in an interview with GamesIndustry International, Gibeau suggested that it was a rare for a company to go through such a chaotic transition and remain trading.

“It’s a dynamic industry,” he began.

“At one moment social is the hottest thing in the history of man, and the next minute it’s not. One minute console is dead, the next minute console is incredible. There’s no market in Russia, Brazil, China, and now we’re seeing some of the largest markets in the world in the emerging market.

“The dynamic change that’s happening in the gaming business is incredible, and the fact that EA has been able to navigate through that and grow profits over the last several years and actually change our revenue from being 100 percent packaged goods to where over the last 12 months 40 percent of our business came from online, it’s very rare that you find companies that are positioned in an old model that are able to actually transition to a new model and survive.”

Though he said EA had posted profit, Gibeau didn’t specify that the company has only returned to intermittent gains following major and successive losses. Nevertheless, Gibeau believes the change was necessary and to survive is a testament to the company’s business acumen.

“The majority of industrial history in the west is littered with examples of companies that go out in the wilderness and don’t come back ever,” he said.

“We’ve actually gone out of the wilderness and come back. It might have taken a little bit longer than some folks thought but I’ve got to tell you, the company is strong, it’s growing, it’s profitable, people are excited about the future, our products are great.”

Elsewhere in the interview, Gibeau thanked just departed CEO John Riccitiello for his contributions during the transition.

“John was an important part of the history of Electronic Arts; he really brought a vision at a time where the company was looking for a new mission, which was digital and a transformation from a packaged goods company to a service company. And I had worked for John in his prior tour at EA and I really knew him well. I really liked working for him – he was a great guy and I think he did some incredible things for the company from a vision standpoint, from a leadership standpoint.”

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