EA Q4 Highlights: Exceeded Investors Expectations, Digital A Major Business Driver

Electronic Arts (NASDAQ: ERTS) sent out their fourth quarter financial statements yesterday. Among the highlights (all figures USD):

* The company made $151m in GAAP revenue for Q4, up from $30m for the same period of time in FY10.

* Total revenue for the quarter was $1.09bn, up from $979m. Most notable is the jump in digital revenue, which went from $156m to $258m.

* For the full fiscal year, the company lost $276m on revenues of $3.59bn.

* Mobile was also a big jumper, going from $55m net at this point last year to $70m in FY10. The company has 112m “Core mobile users” registered.

* GAAP revenues are expected to be at around $950m for Q1 of FY12 and $3.9bn for the entirety of the fiscal year.

* EA celebrated the success of various titles. Mass Effect 2 was singled out for receiving over 150 quality awards, including awards from the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.

* 15 of the top 25 paid aps on the Apple App Store over Easter Weekend were EA games. However, nowhere in the report does it mention that this was due to a highly aggressive sale where the apps were dropped in price to $.99.

* Q4 titles Crysis 2, Dragon Age 2 and Dead Space 2 have sold over 2m copies, while year to date, FIFA ’11 has sold twelve million units and brought in $100m in revenue.

* Upcoming MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic is scheduled, according to the press release, to release in the second half of 2011. However, in a conference call afterwards, EA Games President Frank Gibeau stated that he wouldn’t be giving the release date for the game so as not to “tip off” the competition. CEO John Riccitiello stated that the game would be profitable after 500k subscribers, and “substantially profitable” at 1m subscribers.

* Also from the post-report conferencecall, EA confirmed that they have adjusted their Q1 financial outlook to reflect the PlayStation Network outage. They also stated that the purchase of Firemint was “less than $25m”, which contradicts some internet rumours. Finally, Mr. Riccitiello harped on EA’s expansion into digital markets, emphasizing that the company is going beyond rote packaged goods sales and that analysts have to match their expectations as a result.

The full Q4 financial release is available here.

Analysis: EA had a very good Q4, better than anyone could have guessed. However, for the year, they still lost money. Though Bloomberg notes that shares were up on the report of the strong quarter, many investors are still split on the value of EA stock. They have to start making money, soon, and a looking NFL lockout could possibly hurt a major franchise in Madden. There’s also no steady report of what’s going on with the NBA Elite franchise.

In terms of how any of this is relevant for gamers, expect a slow quarter in terms of releases. The big-name title is Alice: Madness Returns, which is the sequel for a cult hit. This is the slow time of year for everyone. In the meantime, expect to see more games like Dead Space, where what you buy for your system isn’t necessarily all there is to own, considering iOS games, digital games for XBLA/PSN and the like. There’s also the EA Sports Subscription Service to consider, should that come to fruition (I think it will).

Christopher Bowen

About Christopher Bowen

Christopher Bowen is the Editor in Chief of Gaming Bus. Before opening Gaming Bus in May of 2011, he was the News Editor at Diehard GameFAN, a lead reporter for DailyGamesNews, and a reviewer at Not A True Ending, also contributing to VIMM, SNESZone and Scotsmanality. Outside of the industry, he is a network engineer in Norwalk, CT and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.