Electronic Arts Posts Revenue Gains in "Extraordinary" First Quarter

Andrew Wilson - Getty - H 2018
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Player acquisition for 'FIFA' contributed to a solid quarter for the publisher, while active player totals for 'The Sims 4' reached record highs.

Video game publisher Electronic Arts reported a year-over-year increase in revenue from its fiscal first quarter, hitting $1.46 billion for the period, compared to $1.21 a year ago. 

During the quarter, which exceeded Wall Street's expectations and ended June 30, EA launched Command & Conquer Remastered on Microsoft Windows for Steam and Burnout Paradise Remastered for Nintendo Switchdelivered 30 new content updates including season five of Apex Legends, and launched 30 titles on Steam. In addition, 50 mobile updates were introduced along with two major game expansions.

"This was an extraordinary quarter, and we’re deeply proud of everything our teams at Electronic Arts are doing for our players and communities,” said CEO Andrew Wilson in a statement. "We launched new games, deeply engaged players in our live services, and welcomed tens of millions of new players to our network. It was an unprecedented first quarter of growth in our business, and we will continue building on that strength with more innovative experiences, more groundbreaking content, and more ways to connect with friends and play great games throughout the year."

On the earnings call, Wilson said that "these are challenging times in the pandemic," noting that the bulk of EA's employees have been working from home. He went on to note that the period was characterized by many social interactions moving to digital, which saw EA grow over the last four months as tens of millions of players returned to play games. He also referenced the growth of EA's PC audience due to the increased presence of titles on Steam. Looking ahead, Wilson expects many of these trends to continue after the pandemic. 

Blake Jorgensen, COO and CFO of EA, noted in a statement that the Stay at Home, Play Together initiatives, which were introduced during the coronavirus pandemic, have been "a strong tailwind for business," with player engagement through the first quarter "exceptionally high."

The report indicated that FIFA was up more than 100 percent year-over-year in player acquisitions and up nearly 140 percent year-over-year in Madden NFL. Jorgensen shared on the earnings call that FIFA attracted over 7 million new players in this quarter. Elsewhere, active player totals for The Sims 4 reached record highs. During the earnings call, Wilson noted that the Sims mobile games had an "excellent" first quarter as well. 

Jorgensen said on the call that revenue this quarter is "far higher" than EA ever expected or forecasted, acknowledging the resilience of players and increased sales of games across the breadth of EA's entire catalogue. Net revenue for the fiscal year ending March 30, 2021, is expected to be approximately $5.625 billion, with second quarter expectations anticipated to be $1.125 billion. 

In the coming month, EA will launch Madden NFL 21, followed by FIFA 21 later this year. Wilson commented during the call that demand for Madden, FIFA and Apex Legends content is "unprecedented."

Moving forward, the company acknowledged that COVID-19 could be here for "quite some time," and its focus remains on supporting team members while reaching new players, platforms and geographies.