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New CEO at Electronic Arts

John Riccitello takes the game maker's reins from CEO and Chairman Larry Probst.

Updated from 4:24 p.m. EDT

Video-games publisher

Electronic Arts

(ERTS)

is changing the guard.

Effective April 2, the company will have a new CEO, John Riccitello, who will take over from current CEO and Chairman Larry Probst.

Riccitiello is an old EA hand. He served previously as EA's president and chief operating officer responsible for global publishing and online functions before leaving the company in 2004 to be a co-founder and managing partner at venture capital firm Elevation Partners.

Probst, who has been the CEO of EA since 1991, will continue as the executive chairman of the board of directors.

Shares of Redwood City, Calif.-based EA closed Monday's regular session down $1.28, or 2.41%, to $51.91.

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The stock was up 54 cents, or 1%, to $52.50 in extended trading.

"I think this is the ideal time for all intents and purposes to hand over the keys," says Probst. "We are at the beginning of the new fiscal year, poised for growth, and the business is going in a new direction with transition to the next generation of consoles."

In his 16-year reign as CEO, Probst, 57, has taken the company from $100 million in revenue to nearly $3 billion in revenue at the end of fiscal 2007. He joined EA in 1984.

Now, Riccitiello will be calling the shots, says Probst. "John will be the final decision maker," he says. "He will have the primary managerial responsibility and will have the larger role in the company."

Probst says EA has been planning the transition for more than a few months. "We started having earnest discussions in November and finalized it in our February board meeting," he says.

Riccitiello says he has his work cut out. EA's priorities will be the creation of new intellectual property, driving growth in Asia and making more investments in the online mobile segment, he says.

Asia, especially, will be a big challenge for Riccitiello. The company's performance in that region has been disappointing.

Revenue from Asia

in the third quarter ended Dec. 31 was $61 million, down $14 million compared with the year before.