Longtime executive Patrick Söderlund, who spent nearly 20 years working at Electronic Arts in various positions, is leaving the publisher this year, after receiving a $US20 million ($27.6 million) bonus in 2017 that was granted in an attempt to get him to stay. He made $US48.3 million ($66.7 million) last year, according to SEC filings.
“We wish Patrick the very best in his next life adventure, and we thank him for his many significant contributions,” EA boss Andrew Wilson said in a letter to employees, also posted on the company’s website.
Söderlund served as CEO of DICE before rising up the ranks to take over EA’s Worldwide Studios, where he oversaw the publisher’s development projects ranging from Battlefield to Madden. Earlier this year, his title changed yet again, as EA announced in April that he had become chief design officer. Laura Miele now oversees EA’s game development studios.
Söderlund’s massive salary for fiscal year 2018 (April 2017 through March 2018) included $US46.3 million ($64 million) in stock awards, which granted him even more compensation than Wilson.
A large chunk of that stock came from a $US20 million ($27.6 million) bonus that EA gave Söderlund last year in an attempt to keep him around, the publisher said in SEC filings. Here’s EA (formatted for readability, emphasis mine):
Fiscal 2018 Supplemental Equity Compensation Award to Mr Söderlund
In fiscal 2018, the Compensation Committee granted a special supplemental equity award to Mr Söderlund. This supplemental equity award is comprised of 50% PRSUs and 50% RSUs with a grant date award value of $20,000,000.
The Compensation Committee granted Mr Söderlund the supplemental equity award in recognition of Mr Söderlund’s key role in leading our worldwide studios, following the completion of a record fiscal 2017 and in particular, the highly acclaimed success of the Battlefield 1 game.
They also noted his creative leadership for all of EA’s game development, his valuable design input across the Company, including in EA’s marketing campaigns and technology innovations (which has now been formalized into his new role as Chief Design Officer), the delivery of award-winning games and services and deepening player engagement.
The special equity award also was intended to support the longer-term retention of Mr Söderlund, given that his creative successes, executive experience and high profile in the industry make him a highly desirable candidate for executive positions at other companies, including our competitors in the gaming industry, as well as broader technology companies pursuing interactive entertainment.
It isn’t yet clear whether Söderlund will be able to keep his unvested equity.
The median salary of an EA employee in fiscal year 2018 (not counting its CEO) was $US96,336 ($133,104), according to the company’s SEC filings.