EA announces closure of Play4Free RTS BattleForge

Image via Electronic Arts

Image via Electronic Arts

Electronic Arts has announced the closure of its “Play4Free” real-time-strategy game (RTS) BattleForge. The game was first launched in 2009, and allowed players to fight against a variety of evil monsters using an army that they assemble themselves via the collection of cards.

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EA shutters Command & Conquer: Tiberium Alliances developer EA Phenomic

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Battleforge developer EA Phenomic has been closed by Electronic Arts. The German studio employed 60 people, most recently creating free-to-play browser games like Command & Conquer: Tiberium Alliances. The move comes as part of EA’s focus on giving priority to “growth areas,” according to a company statement.

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With Pet Society’s Closure, What Happens to Playfish?

playfish_blue_650When Electronic Arts purchased Playfish in late 2009 for $400 million, the social game startup was riding high with millions of monthly active users across Facebook games like Restaurant City, Pet Society, and Country Story. Just three and a half years later, the company is all but nonexistent, as its final original game, Pet Society, will be shut down on June 14.

Facebook game closures are nothing new, but typically, developers release new games as they shutter underperforming titles. With Playfish, and in fact most of EA’s social division, it seems as though the Facebook platform is being abandoned entirely (The Sims Social and SimCity Social are also being closed this month, as we reported earlier). What does this mean for Playfish’s future? (more…)

Tetris Blitz review

Tetris Blitz app iconTetris Blitz is an iOS and Android app from Electronic Arts (EA). The game is now available for free with ads on the Apple App Store and Google Play and carries additional in-app purchases.

Electronic Arts’ previous attempt at a mobile Tetris failed to make fans believe the classic fast-paced puzzle game could make the transition to a touch screen device. The reflexes and precision required to succeed when the pace increases proved to be something touch controls weren’t ready to handle. Tetris Blitz, EA’s new venture into the world of Tetris, makes key changes to the classic formula and the experience is much better because of it.

Tetris Blitz is a far cry from the arcade style of classic Tetris. The entire premise of Tetris Blitz is that each round is played in two-minute bursts. This allows for quick sessions, much like PopCap’s Bejeweled Blitz. Blocks still drop from the top, but their pace is much slower than previous games, giving players a chance to plan their moves carefully, rather than rely on reflexes. When the blocks start dropping, players are greeted with three outlines of where the block could fit. If none of them are worthwhile, the block can be rotated and three new positions will be offered. When a player finds the best spot, they can tap on the outline and the block automatically drops into that position. Once an entire line is filled, it vanishes, and higher blocks fall down. The controls make Tetris Blitz feel simpler, but the core gameplay remains intact. Once the two-minute round is over, the score is calculated and players can compare their results to their friends, if they’ve logged into Facebook.  (more…)

EA reports $1.04B net revenue in Q4 2013, generates $104M from mobile

EA logoGaming giant Electronic Arts today reported $1.04 billion in non-generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) net revenue for its fourth fiscal quarter of 2013, up 6.4 percent year-over-year from 977 million in non-GAAP net revenue from Q4 2012.

Sales of $1.04 billion were within the company’s guidance of $1.025 billion to $1.125 billion. Non-GAAP diluted earnings per share (EPS) were $0.55, which was slightly below its guidance of $0.57 to $0.72, while non-GAAP loss per share was $($0.17).

EA didn’t report a non-GAAP net loss in this quarter, but expects a non-GAAP net loss of $188 million and a non-GAAP loss per share of $0.62 for Q1 2014. Non-GAAP net income for the quarter was $169 million, up from $56 million from the same quarter a year ago. Non-GAAP digital revenue for the 2013 fiscal year totaled $1.7 billion.

Overall, the company’s non-GAAP digital revenue for Q4 2013 amounted to $618 million, up from $425 million in Q4 2012. Revenue from mobile, including handhelds, contributed approximately $104 million to this total.

“We remained focused on this segment due to the significant growth in the smartphone and tablet market,” says Blake Jorgensen, chief financial officer of EA, in today’s earnings call. (more…)

EA shuts down Sim City Social, The Sims Social and Pet Society June 14

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Game developer and publisher Electronic Arts announced that on June 14 it will retire three of its Facebook games: Sim City Social, The Sims Social and Pet Society.

EA made the announcement on its website and explained that the games were being retired so it can “can reallocate development resources to other titles.” The announcement also encourages players to spend their existing balance of in-game currency as it will become invalid starting June 14.

This is a dramatic but not at all surprising move for EA. EA’s Q2 2013 earnings report was scant on information about the company’s performance and plans for its social games. However, former EA CEO John Riccitiello then 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.

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EA CEO John Riccitiello steps down, Larry Probst appointed Executive Chairman

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Game developer and publisher Electronic Arts today announced John Riccitiello will step down as Chief Executive Officer and as a member of the Board of Directors, effective March 30. Larry Probst, who was CEO prior to Riccitiello, was appointed Executive Chairman while the Board searches for a new, permanent CEO.

EA made the announcement today via an official release, also stating that the company is considering both external and internal candidates to replace Riccitiello.

“My decision to leave EA is really all about my accountability for the shortcomings in our financial results this year,” Riccitiello explained in his letter to EA (published by Kotaku). “It currently looks like we will come in at the low end of, or slightly below, the financial guidance we issued to the Street, and we have fallen short of the internal operating plan we set one year ago. And for that, I am 100 percent accountable.”

Riccitiello also took pride in the strides the company has made in the mobile space, telling his employees: “You are number one in the fastest growing segment, mobile, with incredible games like The Simpsons: Tapped Out, Real Racing 3, Bejeweled, SCRABBLE and Plants v. Zombies.”

EA’s release cited Probst’s accomplishments when he was last CEO, also specifying his contributions to online and mobile. “As CEO, Probst successfully grew the Company’s annual revenues from $175 million to approximately$3 billion, led EA into new platforms such as mobile, online and other emerging markets and expanded its international presence to more than 75 countries.”

EA CEO John Riccitiello steps down, Larry Probst appointed Executive Chairman

ricco

Game developer and publisher Electronic Arts today announced John Riccitiello will step down as Chief Executive Officer and as a member of the Board of Directors, effective March 30. Larry Probst, who was CEO prior to Riccitiello, was appointed Executive Chairman while the Board searches for a new, permanent CEO.

EA made the announcement today via an official release, also stating that the company is considering both external and internal candidates to replace Riccitiello.

“My decision to leave EA is really all about my accountability for the shortcomings in our financial results this year,” Riccitiello explained in his letter to EA (published by Kotaku). “It currently looks like we will come in at the low end of, or slightly below, the financial guidance we issued to the Street, and we have fallen short of the internal operating plan we set one year ago. And for that, I am 100 percent accountable.”

Riccitiello also took pride in the strides the company has made in the mobile space, telling his employees: “You are number one in the fastest growing segment, mobile, with incredible games like The Simpsons: Tapped Out, Real Racing 3, Bejeweled, SCRABBLE and Plants v. Zombies.”

EA’s release cited Probst’s accomplishments when he was last CEO, also specifying his contributions to online and mobile. “As CEO, Probst successfully grew the Company’s annual revenues from $175 million to approximately$3 billion, led EA into new platforms such as mobile, online and other emerging markets and expanded its international presence to more than 75 countries.”

What Kristian Segrestrale’s departure could mean for EA’s social game plan

0f91dc9This week’s departure of Kristian Segrestrale, the last Playfish founding executive at Electronic Arts, marks a turning point for the company that could shift it away from the Facebook platform. Here’s a look back at how the social game ecosystem has changed for Playfish following its 2009 acquisition.

EA at one point was viewed in the industry as the example of how mainstream publishers could successfully straddle the lines between social, mobile and traditional games. This was, in large part, due to EA’s $400 million acquisition of Playfish in 2009. It was a smart investment, as Playfish was one of the major presences in the early days of social games with user numbers on par with Playdom, Crowdstar and Zynga.

The benefits of the acquisition went both ways with EA gaining an experienced Facebook games developer and Playfish gaining access to major brands like MLB, Dragon Age and FIFA. For a short period of time, each of these Playfish-managed titles performed well in MAU and DAU rankings, but they lacked staying power beyond about 12 months. Meanwhile, the Facebook games ecosystem began to change in ways that made it harder for Playfish to maintain their position in the leaderboards. First, the platform cut back dramatically on the viral channels available to social game developers to address quality concerns. Then, the mandatory introduction of Facebook Credits throughout the spring and summer of 2011 made it more confusing for people to purchase virtual goods — because first they had to buy the platform currency and then spend it within specific games. Moreover, a player could spend Credits on any game they wanted instead of just purchasing Playfish currency that could only be spent in Playfish games. Toward the middle of 2011, as Zynga moved closer to its initial public offering, it came to light that Facebook was providing exclusive advantages to the developer (which while Playfish may have known about all along, likely came as a nasty surprise to EA). (more…)

Puzzle & Dragons estimated to generate between $54M to $75M a month in Japan, says Japanese press

Japan’s top grossing free-to-play mobile game Puzzle & Dragons for iOS and Android is estimated to generate between five billion yen ($54 million) to seven billion yen ($75.5 million) a month in the country, according to the Japanese press as translated by industry watcher and analyst Dr. Serkan Toto.Puzzle & Dragons app icon

The estimated revenue range is based off a financial document for January 2013 that accompanied game company GungHo Online’s financial report for the 2012 fiscal year. According to the report for the fiscal year of 2012, the company saw sales grow 168.8 percent year-over-year to $280 million and operating profit increase 690.1 percent to $99 million.

In January 2013 alone, the company revealed that it saw sales of 8.5 billion yen ($92 million), a 1002.4 percent increase year-over-year. GungHo didn’t provide a platform or a specific game in its portfolio for the figures it saw last month, but that didn’t stop the Japanese press from publishing estimates about the amount of revenue Puzzle & Dragons contributed toward the $92 million GungHo saw in January 2013.

“There is absolutely no doubt in the industry over here that one game only — Puzzle & Dragons — is the main driver behind this growth,” Toto says on his blog.

The three Japanese outlets to publish estimates included Inside Games’ estimate of seven billion yen ($75.5 million), Projetista’s estimate of six billion yen ($64.6 million) and Popular Social App and Game Analysis Blog’s estimate of five billion yen ($54 million. The three estimates average out to $64.7 million, translating to about an average of $2 million in revenue per day from Puzzle & Dragons. In comparison, Finish developer Supercell was reported to be generating $1 million in gross revenue a day from two games — Hay Day and Clash of Clans. Also, Electronic Arts’ The Simpsons: Tapped Out pulled in $23 million in three months.

The puzzle and RPG hybridPuzzle & Dragons, which added moved from seven million to eight million registered users in 12 days, is a puzzle and RPG hybrid game which first launched in Japan for iPhone in February 2012 and in the U.S. in November 2012. In spite of this popularity in Japan, the game still has yet to find a sizable audience here in the States, though it’s already starting to see similar titles appear in North America like Renren’s new puzzle game Merlin’s Rage.

GungHo, known for hosting the servers for massively multiplayer online role-playing game Ragnarok Online, currently has a market cap of $2.9 billion, more than Zynga’s $2.5 billion and GREE’s $2.8 billion, but well below DeNA’s $3.6 billion market cap.

This story originally appeared on our sister site Inside Mobile Apps.

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