Shortly after E3 2018, which saw one of the worst EA Press Conferences of all time many Bioware veterans have been jumping off the Anthem train. It now appears that the exodus of staff who are needed for the success of our industry’s latest “live service” may not just be limited to game developers.
Patrick Söderlund (Chief Design Officer) announced to employees today that he will be exiting his role at EA Games over the course of the next three months. This also comes on the heels of Blake Jorgensen (COO & CFO at EA Games) selling over a million and a half ($1,503,967) worth of EA stock options in early July of 2018. These all seem to be bad signs of what is to come.
Regardless of how much die hard fans will want to deny the writing on the wall, defend the actions of the most greedy video game corporation on the planet (and often voted worst company in America, beating out heavy hitters like Exxon Mobil), and just turn an overall blind eye to this – things are getting dire at EA Games.
If you ask anyone at EA they’ll tell you things are going great while they keep pushing their propaganda that “single player gaming is dead” and forcing countless development studios to shut down after buying them out for all the wrong reasons. But actions speak louder than words. After receiving the lowest rating at E3 2018 from a large poll of thousands of gamers and press, it seems the problems at EA are not just limited to controversies over loot boxes and the death of creative influence on their titles.
Leaving his job of well over $5.4 million a year in salary alone as of 2014, not to mention over $11 million in EA stock as of 2016, *AND $46 million ‘incentive-to-stay’ stock market bonus and salary boost (including $22 million income for 2017). Patrick Söderlund has held many positions across the past 12 years he’s spent at the company including Executive Vice President of EA’s Worldwide Studios, CEO of the DICE the EA-owned dev studio behind the Battlefield series, and more. His recent promotion to Chief Design Officer only occurred a few months ago.
The importance of the work done by Patrick Söderlund at EA is so massive that it will require the entire three months of his exit to properly re-organize the company in order to compensate for his absence. Some of the projects Söderlund is considered largely responsible for include the building and implementation of the Frostbite game engine, the direction of the Battlefield series after EA acquired it, as well as various developer tools used behind-the-scenes.
One thing about Söderlund which will also have to be accounted for is his willingness to acknowledge and address the mistakes EA makes over the years. This is a unique and powerful skill to have in such a company that is famous for upsetting its fans and essentially refusing to admit their faults. On the one hand, new creative executives could possibly fill the void – but on the other hand, we may be losing the only down to earth person in the company. For sure though, this doesn’t reflect well on EA’s current situation with putting so many eggs in the baskets of Anthem and gambling features for sports video games.