John Riccitiello, president/COO of video-game maker Electronic Arts Inc. (EA) since 1997, has resigned today (April 7), effective immediately. He will remain at Redwood City, Calif.-based EA for a tra

John Riccitiello, president/COO of video-game maker Electronic Arts Inc. (EA) since 1997, has resigned today (April 7), effective immediately. He will remain at Redwood City, Calif.-based EA for a transition period but intends to set up a private equity fund that invests in media companies.

Under Riccitiello's leadership, the company has emerged as the world's largest maker of video games. He was part of a management team that formed EA TRAX, a program that partners music labels and artists. Electronic Arts was among the first video-game companies to establish dedicated music and marketing department, hiring Steve Schnur in 2002 as its worldwide executive of music.

Larry Probst, the company's chairman who has guided Electronic Arts since 1991, will continue as CEO and assume interim responsibility for Riccitiello's duties while EA evaluates candidates to replace him.

"My time at EA was the best work experience of my life," Riccitiello says in a statement. "Personally, it is time to do something different and I intend to start a private equity business. I'm leaving EA when the company is enriched with the best people, the best properties and a very bright future."

Riccitiello leaves EA days after its stock price hit an all-time high. In trading on the Nasdaq today, its shares fell $1.84 to $53.03.