Weak Sales of 'Battlefield V' Fuel Disappointing Earnings for EA

Battlefield V-Publicity-H 2018
Courtesy of EA

The video game company is looking for its next big release, 'Anthem,' to turn the tide.

Games like Battlefield V and mobile title Command & Conquer: Rivals failed to live up to expectations for EA, the video game company disclosed Tuesday in its latest quarterly earnings report

Total revenue for the quarter came in at $1.3 billion, an increase from last year's $1.2 billion, though the figure was lower than EA expectations for the time period by $86 million. Net revenue for Q4 is expected to be approximately $1.163 billion, while net revenue for the fiscal year 2019 is expected to be approximately $4.9 billion.

“The video game industry continues to grow through a year of intense competition and transformational change,” said EA CEO Andrew Wilson. “Q3 was a difficult quarter for Electronic Arts and we did not perform to our expectations. We are now applying the strengths of our company to sharpen our execution and focus on delivering great new games and long-term live services for our players."

Launched on Nov. 20, Battlefield V is the latest entry in the popular Battlefield series. The title was marred by controversy before it ever hit shelves, however, with some fans online criticizing the game for featuring a female protagonist in its announcement trailer and claims of an unrealistic depiction of World War II. The game's sales suffered and it sold half the number of physical copies of its predecessor, Battlefield 1.

Wilson said Tuesday on an earnings call that the game's release date, which was pushed back due to development issues, "moved it into a competitive holiday market." He also noted that the popularity of Battle Royale games hurt the game's performance (Battlefield V does not currently have a Battle Royale mode, but has one planned for release this spring).

Despite the poor launch numbers, the company is optimistic that its player base will continue to grow. 

Meanwhile, FIFA 19, which was released in September, continued to drive revenue for the company, becoming the highest-selling console game in Europe in 2018.

Wilson is optimistic that upcoming and recently launched games under the EA banner will help boost sales. "We’re very excited about Apex Legends, the upcoming launch of Anthem, and a deep lineup of new experiences that we’ll bring to our global communities next fiscal year,” he said.

Interestingly, the upcoming Star Wars title in the works from Respawn Entertainment, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, was referred to as a "sports title" and is supposedly due in the fall, according to a statement by company COO and CFO Blake Jorgensen. Wilson said the game is "very far along in its development" and promised more information on the title to come soon.

The company surprised many fans on Monday when it released the free-to-play Battle Royale game Apex Legends, with Titanfall developers Respawn Entertainment to compete directly with Epic Games' juggernaut Fortnite. More than 1 million unique players tried out the new title in its first eight hours, according to Respawn CEO Vince Zampella. Wilson noted that the game's launch was the company's biggest in terms of peak concurrent players.

EA is currently gearing up for the launch of its next major release, Anthem, a third-person shooter role-playing game developed by BioWare that is hoping to spawn a new franchise. The game's demo periods (first for VIP players two weeks ago and then for the public last weekend) were marred by lag and connection issues, with BioWare's head of live service Chad Robertson issuing an apology following the VIP demo weekend. However, after the public demo, Robertson said in a blog post that it had "exceeded our expectations."