The chief creative director at Electronic Arts, Richard Hilleman, leaves EA after spending the last 33 years with the company, where he helped create the EA Sports label.
It’s the end of an era at Electronic Arts. EA’s chief creative director and EA Sports innovator, Richard Hilleman, has parted ways with the company, with little explanation as to why, what he will be doing next, and who will ultimately replace him.
Hilleman was one of EA’s longest-serving employees, having started with the company in 1983. Over the decades, Hilleman played a role in many of EA’s major releases, but his most well-known contributions are probably with the EA Sports label. It was with EA Sports that Hilleman helped create and develop many of the company’s biggest sports games, such as Madden NFL, NHL, Tiger Woods PGA Tour, and more.
With Hilleman gone from EA, it will be interesting to see what he decides to do next. He has had a long and successful gaming career and is considered to be one of the most influential developers there is, with his work spanning multiple console generations. It’s clear Hilleman had about as good of a gaming career as one could ask for, so maybe his departure from EA is an indication that he is getting out of the gaming business entirely – or maybe he is simply looking to work on games elsewhere.
Considering Hilleman’s legacy, it seems like he wouldn’t have trouble finding work at any of the other major gaming companies. Having said that, it would be odd for Hilleman to leave his established position at EA to do something similar at another big publisher, so maybe if he does stick with gaming, it will be to work on smaller games at an independent studio.
Whatever Hilleman decides to do, he probably won’t make a big fuss about it. Over the years, he has been relatively quiet, rarely appearing in public at big events outside of the annual Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences D.I.C.E. Summit.
Aside from a controversial Steve Jobs reference made a few years back, his questionable statement that video games are too hard, and his promise that the Medal of Honor franchise isn’t dead, Hilleman just doesn’t seem to interact much with the public when compared to some other high profile game designers. Of course, that doesn’t mean we won’t be made aware of his next plans eventually; it just means that he might be a little quiet about it.
In the meantime, Hilleman currently holds a seat on the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences board of directors, along with a number of other important industry figures. If he does decide to depart from the industry altogether, one has to imagine that he will be leaving his position at that organization as well, but we will have to wait and see on that front.
No matter what Hilleman does next, he is leaving behind an impressive legacy at EA. His comprehensive body of work, and the influence he had on the EA Sports label, will help him go down as one of the most influential game designers in history. Fans of EA’s sports games owe a great deal to Hilleman, and hopefully he’s not done changing the face of the gaming industry just yet.