EA CEO John Riccitiello to UC Berkeley graduates: 'Fail well'

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John Riccitiello at Haas
Way to set the tone for these kids' careers, buddy. Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello told recent graduates of The University of California at Berkeley to 'fail well' at the Haas School of Business commencement ceremony, VentureBeat reports. The Berkeley alumnus of 30 years revealed how he has dealt with the setbacks EA has experienced over the past few years. Not to mention his many attempts at remaining relevant in an industry that's changing more rapidly than ever.

"I've had first-hand experience with failure, and I have had the opportunity to learn and recover from it," Riccitiello said. EA has made leaps and bounds to recover its losses in the console games industry, publishing mega hits like Mass Effect and Dead Space. However, its time in the social games world has been another story entirely.

Since EA bought Playfish in 2009 for what's now said to be about $563 million (and plenty of layoffs to cover the costs), it has rocketed to second place in the developer leader boards--an extremely distant second to Zynga. EA Playfish enjoys 32.7 million monthly players, while the FarmVille-pushing freak of financial nature welcomes a massive 248 million players monthly, according to AppData. All the while, Zynga has somehow become more valuable than the nearly 30-year-old industry veteran at $10 billion, and several EA bigwigs have left the company for both Zynga and other social game companies.

That all being said, we can understand the tone of Riccitiellos' commencement speech. However, the EA chief remained optimistic, pointing to failures-turned-success stories like one-time US president Harry S. Truman and Steve Jobs. He then pointed out that EA has learned from being on the wrong side of change a few years back, and is now working on a new strategy.

"I would argue we failed well," Riccitiello said. "We are students of our own failure. We used our failure to shape and impel us to a better strategy. One that we believe that will ultimately succeed in ways that our previous strategy, even if perfectly executed, could never have done....Trust me. Sooner or later, you're going to get knocked on your ass. Will you fold? Or will you fail well?" When it comes to EA in the social games business, we've yet to see the end result.

[Image Credit: VentureBeat]

How would you react if Riccitiello said this during your commencement? What do you think his outlook implies for EA in the social games business? On the whole? Sound off in the comments. Add Comment.
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