EA’s shift from social to mobile kills or delays up to 10 games
EA’s Q2 2013 earnings report was scant on information about the company’s performance and plans for its social games. However, CEO John Riccitiello revealed the company’s changed its outlook from last quarter as it’s shifted to focusing on mobile development, killing or delaying as many as 10 different social games.
The issue was brought up by Atul Bagga of Lazard Capital during the Q&A session at the end of the call. Bagga noticed in EA’s report that it had significantly diminished the number of social titles it was planning to release over the 2013 fiscal year and asked about it, at which point Riccitiello revealed the cancelations and delays but didn’t go into specific about which titles were affected.
According to Riccitiello, EA’s seeing the slowdown in the social games genre that many developers are and called Facebook out for some of this, noting the structural issues and discoverability challenges on the social network. However, he also noted EA was expecting to see a repeat of its social games’ traffic doubling and doubling again, as had been the case in the past. That said, he also noted how core games are performing and monetizing better than their casual counterparts. Likewise, Riccitiello said EA isn’t abandoning Facebook. Instead, the company’s simply incorporating social elements into its PC and mobile games, platforms EA is currently thriving on thanks to success stories like The Simpsons: Tapped Out.
It’s not surprising that EA is pivoting away from Facebook, since the company hasn’t been able to recreate the success it saw with The Sims Social. Over the past quarter, EA saw three major releases on the social platform: Outernauts, SimCity Social and JetSet Secrets. None of these have proven to be major hits on the platform. JetSet Secrets is the only title still seeing regular traffic gains; over the past few days, it reached new peak user numbers of 250,000 daily active users, but the game only launched a little over a month ago so it’s too early to call the game a success.
SimCity Social, meanwhile, quickly peaked in July with July with 1.8 million daily active users and started to noticeably lose players and is now down to 580,000 DAU. SimCity Social’s DAU/MAU percentage is at 15 percent, which mean means the game’s traffic is still considered healthy, but this also means the game isn’t likely to see any growth any time soon. As we noted in our August deep dive, the game seemed to suffer from the fact there wasn’t another cross-chapter story mission after the initial one based around converting a spaceship into a Launch Arcology, as well as turning off potential players with an excessive amount of requests and posts.
Outernauts, which was created by AAA developer Insomniac Games, has gone nowhere since it launched in July. The original plan we were told about involved publishing the game and selling tie-in merchandise including limited-edition plush animals that would unlock limited monsters within the game. Although Outernauts was critically well-received, the game’s numbers never really seemed to take off. In late September, the game reached a high traffic point of 40,000 DAU, but it’s now down to 20,000 and it has a DAU/MAU percentage of 8.3 percent.
EA’s plan to combine Facebook Connect with its mobile titles also shouldn’t be surprising, based on the recent report from Facebook showing how implementing its new features was able to dramatically boost traffic and revenue for Bingo Blitz.