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Electronic Arts: Your Next Move

Stocks in this article: EA ZNGA

In other words, this definitely isn't a time to have quality control issues or release titles that cost customers more if they want to unlock certain features -- and there is no indication that de-throning Riccitiello is going to help with that, at least in the short-term.

The issues at EA were bad enough to earn the company the Consumerist's Golden Poo Award last year, and they seem to have been deeper than simply who was at the helm. The Consumerist blasted the company, saying that it would deliberately hold back game content so that it could charge for it later, rather than just selling a complete version of the games. It also claimed that EA would release products before the bugs were ironed out, just to be able to release on time and sometimes even make money on providing those fixes.

Fair enough. During Riccitiello's tenure, EA underwent a transition to a stronger digital presence and worked to reduce the number of annual game releases the company made. The idea was to release fewer titles, which would free up the resources to make those titles bigger and better -- but there was a series of issues. EA had a variety of quality issues with many of its releases and lost several key people to social game giant Zynga (ZNGA), setting off a legal battle between the two companies.

More importantly, from an investing perspective, those issues are being reflected in EA's earnings. In the press release announcing that Riccitiello would be stepping down from the helm at EA, the company took the opportunity to revise its guidance, saying that it expects revenues and earnings for the current quarter to be at the low end of expectations, if not a little below.

In other words, even EA isn't that encouraged about its earnings.

It is going to take another ground-breaking game franchise to pull this company back up to its former glory. That means EA needs to focus on getting good people on research and development, to make sure that the game has mass appeal. It also means that EA is going to have to attract the top talent in the industry, to make sure that the game looks and functions like a true blockbuster.

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