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Battlefield 1 drives EA holiday quarter

EA proclaims FIFA 17 best-selling console game of the year, talks about new Star Wars Battlefront and disruptive BioWare action IP set for next fiscal year

For all the talk of disappointing retail sales across the industry this past holiday season, Electronic Arts appears to have received just what it asked for and a little bit more. The company today announced its results for the third fiscal quarter ended December 31, beating its guidance on the strength of a lineup featuring Battlefield 1, Titanfall 2, and continued sales of sports titles like FIFA 17 and Madden NFL 17.

EA proclaimed Battlefield 1 to be the franchise's biggest launch ever, with a player base 50% larger than that of Battlefield 4 in its launch quarter in 2013. The company also singled out FIFA 17 for praise, saying it was the best-selling console title in the world over the course of 2016. The company offered no information on the performance of Titanfall 2, which launched during the week in between Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare and Battlefield 1, and launched to disappointing sales at retail.

For the third quarter, EA posted net revenues of $1.15 billion, with a net loss of $1 million. For the year ago quarter, the publisher brought in $1.07 billion in revenue, with a net loss of $45 million. The publisher's digital business continues to grow, as the trailing 12 months saw EA post $2.86 billion in digital net revenues, 60% of the company's total business during the time and up 18% year-over-year. For the third quarter alone, digital net revenue was $685 million, up 20% year-over-year thanks in part to continually increasing FIFA Ultimate Team sales.

In a post-earnings call, CEO Andrew Wilson confirmed that EA is working on a new Star Wars: Battlefront game for the 2017 holiday season with a single-player campaign and multiple Star Wars eras. The game is being worked on by three studios: DICE, Motive, and Criterion. In addition, Wilson said there would a new Need for Speed in the company's fiscal 2018 year (beginning in April), and the company is working on a new BioWare IP with "potential to fundamentally disrupt the way people think about an action title."

In light of the results, EA modestly raised its guidance for the full fiscal year, with revenues now expected to be $4.8 billion (up from $4.775 billion) and pre-tax profit of $1.135 billion (up from $1.06 billion).

[UPDATE]: Later in the post-earnings call, EA executives confirmed that Titanfall 2 sold worse than had been expected, but noted that Battlefield 1 sold better than projected. Additionally, Battlefield 1 was a higher margin title for the publisher than Titanfall 2, which was created externally by Respawn Entertainment. However, they also emphasized that they remain committed to Titanfall 2 and their relationship with the developer.

Finally, the next iteration of the long-struggling NBA Live series was bumped yet again to the fall. It had been expected this spring, but Andrew Wilson said the game was already fun, but they wanted to double down on it and give it an entire NBA season to sell during rather than launch it at the tail end of the current season.

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Brendan Sinclair avatar
Brendan Sinclair: Brendan joined in 2012. Based in Toronto, Ontario, he was previously senior news editor at GameSpot.
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