EA digital revenue climbs 40% to $274M in holiday quarter
Electronic Art’s digital revenues — which includes those from social games — came in at $274 million for Q3 FY12, up over 40 percent from the same quarter last year. Non-GAAP digital revenue grew by 79 percent year-over-year, breaking $1 billion before the end of 2011.
EA attributes growth in digital revenues to increased subscriptions, microtransactions and advertising. GAAP net revenue from wireless, advertising, digital distribution and other internet sources was $103 million, up from $16 million at the same time last year.
Mobile revenues, meanwhile, increased to $70 million dollars in company’s third quarter, up from $59 million in the same quarter a year earlier. Though up 19 percent year-over-year, the company’s handheld revenues dropped significantly. Revenue from Nintendo’s DS platform were $15 million, a 69 percent drop from $49 million year-on-year and revenues from Sony’s PSP were $14 million, a 36 percent drop over the same quarter a year earlier. Overall, the company’s total revenue from mobile and handhelds was down 24 percent year-on-year, dropping to $99 million.
Though not broken out on the balance sheet, EA reports that its PopCap Games studio posted 30 percent growth in revenues on a trailing-twelve-month basis. EA bought the Zuma Blitz developer in the summer; its newest Facebook title, Solitaire Blitz, is currently in open beta.
During its earnings call, EA mentioned that a planned social game release would be moved from Q4 FY12 to Q1 FY13. It looks like EA is experimenting with optimal launch windows for social games, as most games earn their best money not at launch but after the first 30 days on the Facebook platform. EA CFO Eric Brown confirmed the strategy behind the move, saying the release would shore up expected performance from the 2013 lineup of social games. The latest game from its Playfish studio, Risk: Factions, went live earlier this month and is still on a growth trend. Note that the publisher doesn’t detail social or mobile game releases in its earnings releases in the same way it does with console and PC game releases due the risk of being beaten to market by a copycat game.
Brown went on to say that FY 2012 digital revenue growth the hit $1.2 billion and that calendar 2013 would have a lighter game release schedule overall. Detailed guidance for FY 2013 will be provided in EA’s next earnings report.
More details on EA’s social games calendar came out during the Q&A portion of the call: Five new games based on established IP are currently in development. A big social game launch is planned for May. Aside from the strategic decision behind moving the mystery 2013 social game back, the publisher also says that there are issues with the game’s social and monetization features. EA also says that a significant majority of digital revenue comes from EA’s own IP, not from PopCap and Playfish. The FIFA game launched with Gree for social and mobile networks in Japan was a particularly inspiring launch for EA and they’re exploring similar game launches on global networks. No mention was made of a Mass Effect 3 social game.