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EA names EA Sports, Origin head Andrew Wilson new CEO

Samit Sarkar (he/him) is Polygon’s deputy managing editor. He has more than 15 years of experience covering video games, movies, television, and technology.

Andrew Wilson is the new chief executive of Electronic Arts, the company announced today.

Wilson most recently served as the head of the EA Sports label and EA's digital distribution service, Origin. He succeeds Larry Probst, who was named EA's executive chairman when John Riccitiello resigned from his position as CEO this past March.

"The rigorous search conducted by our Board included several talented executives from both outside the company and from within EA," said Probst in a post on EA's The Beat blog. "Andrew's appointment is a clear demonstration of the deep bench of management talent at EA, and reflects our fundamental belief that EA is on track to become the global leader in interactive games and services."

"Let me start by saying I am deeply honored and humbled to become EA's CEO," said Wilson in a letter on The Beat. "I have a profound respect and passion for this organization, as well as for our global community of fans, and I'm incredibly motivated to serve our people, our gamers and our shareholders at such an exciting time in our industry."

"I have a profound respect and passion for this organization"

The Australian-born Wilson, 39, got his start at EA in 2000, and worked at branches of the company in Asia and Europe before coming to North America. His previous positions include executive producer on the publisher's FIFA franchise, and in August 2011 he became the executive vice president of EA Sports. Last year, he came in at 40th on Fast Company's list of the top 100 most creative people in business. Wilson is the first EA studio executive to become CEO of EA.

"In his leadership role of the EA Sports label he has shown an exceptional ability to identify and develop talented people and teams," added Probst, who will stay on as executive chairman "for an indefinite period" to support Wilson in his transition to his new job atop the company. Don Mattrick, formerly the president of Microsoft's Xbox division, was rumored to be a top candidate for the CEO position at EA, but he left Microsoft in July to become CEO of Zynga.

In his letter, Wilson outlined three core points of focus in his strategy for leading EA: continuing to transform the company to prepare it for the digital future; "delivering amazing games and services across platforms"; and imbuing EA with a "culture of execution" in order to maintain profitability.

"In the days and weeks ahead, I will provide a greater level of operational detail behind the plan that will make these goals a reality," said Wilson.

Wilson is the first EA studio executive to become CEO

According to an SEC filing, Wilson will receive an annual base salary of $800,000; his predecessor, Riccitiello, earned $865,000 for the 2012 fiscal year after volunteering to take a pay cut. Wilson is eligible for a bonus payment that is targeted for 150 percent of that base salary, and will not exceed 200 percent of the target bonus amount. At the lowest, his bonus will be 50 percent of his base salary. Wilson's bonus will be determined partly by EA's business performance in the third and fourth quarters of its 2014 fiscal year, which ends March 31, 2014, and partly by Wilson's individual performance as CEO from today through that date.

Wilson is also being offered 1 million shares' worth of stock options from EA, which will be valued according to EA's stock price as of the close of markets on the second trading day after EA announces the results for the second quarter of its 2014 fiscal year. The quarter will end Sept. 30, and EA usually releases its fiscal report approximately one month afterward.

It's unclear if Wilson will retain his former responsibilities as the head of EA Sports and Origin, or if EA will appoint other individuals to those positions. We've reached out to EA for more information and an interview. For now, you can read up on Wilson by checking out our interviews with him from E3 2013, in which we discussed the new EA Sports Ignite engine and the potential for the company to make baseball video games again.

Update: When asked if someone else will take over Wilson's previous positions, an EA representative told Polygon that the company has no further organizational announcements at this time.