Over the last 20 years, one of the key executives at Electronic Arts has helped curate, form, develop, and chisel out a reputation for the company as one of the premiere AAA publishers working in the industry. However, after putting in 20 years with the company, chief design officer Patrick Soderlund is stepping down. This comes at a somewhat inopportune time for Electronic Arts because this news arrives just before the company launches the biggest game of the year at the publisher, Battlefield V, which is due out this fall for the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and on Origin for PC.
In an open-letter shared with the community over on the official EA website, it was announced by CEO Andrew Wilson that Patrick Soderlund is moving on from Electronic Arts. Wilson explains in the letter that Soderlund came to the decision to move on from the company after investing two decades of his life into it.
As the chief design officer and head of the worldwide studios, Soderlund helped shape EA into the technological powerhouse that it is today. In fact, it was because of Soderlund that EA has the Frostbite engine under its grasp, which is one of the most powerful software toolsets in the world today.
Twenty years ago, DICE was but a small studio with many members coming off the launch of Codename: Eagle, which was underlying tech that would eventually evolve into the Battlefield series. The studio was put on the map with Battlefield 1942 and the mods it helped spawn, but it was Battlefield 2 that ended up attracting large swathes of the console gaming sector.
It was under Soderlund's leadership that the company pushed forward with the biggest technological leap EA ever saw in the form of the Frostbite 3 game engine, which helped power the mega-blockbuster and hugely selling Battlefield 3, and put a huge dent in Call of Duty's marketshare. This was also the first time that market analysts saw Battlefield as a viable brand that could eventually dethrone Call of Duty. However, some hiccups with the branding -- such as the glitchy launch of Battlefield 4 and the fan-derided release of Battlefield: Hardline -- sidelined the prophecy of its eventual takeover of the first-person shooter genre.
Nevertheless, Soderlund continued to help foster forward-thinking technologies at Electronic Arts, with the company moving away from the Unreal Engine 3 and using Frostbite for games like Mirror's Edge: Catalyst, which adopted physically-based rendering, large-scale open-world environments, and all new dynamic light and shadow rendering.
In fact, almost all of EA's major titles began utilizing the Frostbite, moving the company and the studios under a more unified technological direction.
With Soderlund's departure, EA notes that there will be some rearranging of the organizational structure within the company, as the SEED Team will be joining other groups to keep pushing the tech forward, while the company is bringing in Jason Wozencroft to lead a new group of UX designers for a unified pipeline. The EA Originals and EA Partners teams will also be corralled under the Strategic Growth group.