Richard Hilleman, who helped to shape the Madden franchise and Electronic Arts' sports brand and went on to become EA's chief creative director and gaming guru, is no longer with the company, Polygon has learned.
"Rich Hilleman is a pioneer — a creative mind whose work influenced many games at EA and beyond," John Reseburg, EA corporate spokesman, told Polygon. " We are thankful to Rich for his contribution over more than 30 years with the company, and we look forward to seeing what he pursues next."
Reseburg added that at this point, the company is not backfilling HIlleman's creative director position.
Hilleman started with EA in 1983 as a support specialist, eventually working his way up to vice president of production, according to his LinkedIn profile. In 2008, he was named chief creative director of the company.
He held that role until his departure earlier this month, according to two sources familiar with the matter and Hilleman's LinkedIn account. We've emailed Hilleman for comment, but according to LinkedIn the only job he currently lists is being the principal of Rattlesnake Electronic Sport, an eKart racing and development team.
While Hilleman's early influence at Electronic Arts was focused on its sports titles, including Madden, NHL and Tiger Woods Golf, he played a pivotal role in many of EA's creative decisions and worked for a time at the company's internal "university" teaching producers and development directors.
Hilleman currently sits on the board of directors for the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences.
In a 2013 talk, Hilleman discussed the importance of shaping games to their platform and said that the evolution of console will eventually lead to software-centric upgrades rather than changes driven by local machines.
Not one to mince words, last year at the DICE summit Hilleman made a splash by saying that EA's games were still too hard to master.
"Our games are actually still too hard to learn," he said at the time. "The average player probably spends two hours to learn how to play the most basic game."
Update: Hilleman declined to comment about his future plans but did confirm to Polygon that yesterday was his last day with the company.