Dexcom makes controlling blood sugar far simpler for diabetes patients — and everyone else too

If you’ve ever wondered if the data we’re amassing will be useful, check out the continuous glucose monitor from the medical device company Dexcom.

As a tech narcissist, I’ve been interested for years in how technology can deliver a “quantified self,” or data about myself and how I live. But I can’t say that the data I’ve collected so far, from step counters to sleep monitors, has really taught me anything really useful — until I tried out Dexcom’s latest monitor. It turned out not only to be a good health care story but also a great data story.

The Dexcom G6 Pro gave me insights into how my body was behaving moment to moment, and how I can take charge and control how I feel. For me, this was a kind of academic fascination. But for Ric Peralta, for example, a 47-year-old man who has been living with diabetes for 12 years, it makes a huge difference in how conveniently he can monitor glucose levels and manage life-or-death situations.

This kind of insight that we both got from data is something I would expect to learn from a Star Trek Tricorder. But it’s available today, and it’s why Dexcom has a stock market value of $40 billion and sales close to $1.5 billion a year.

Glucose monitors measure the level of sugar in your blood. For diabetic patients, this is critical. Diabetes affects more than 34 million Americans and is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. The traditional standard of care for glucose monitoring has been a fingerstick meter, which is painful as some patients need to test their blood by pricking their fingers up to 12 times a day.

In a patient with Type 1 diabetes, the pancreas can’t produce the hormone insulin, which helps the body absorb sugar and remove it from your bloodstream. For Type 2 diabetes patients, their body may not be able to produce or process insulin effectively. Either condition means people have to inject themselves with insulin to take their glucose levels down. But they can only do this if they can accurately measure their blood sugar levels in real time, something that hasn’t been possible or convenient until recently.

Above: Kevin Sayer is CEO of Dexcom.

Image Credit: Dexcom

More recently, COVID-19 patients with poor glucose control have had bad complications leading to higher fatality rates. “We got an emergency approval from the FDA to use [glucose monitors] in hospitals,” Dexcom CEO Kevin Sayer said in an interview with VentureBeat. “They saw the glucose problems COVID-19 patients were facing. Many of them have diabetes or have high glucose variability.”

Moore’s law

Above: The Dexcom Seven Plus CGM debuted in 2009.

Image Credit: Dexcom

Dexcom has been making glucose monitors for years. Each one has been getting smaller and more convenient, in step with the march of Moore’s law — the notion that electronic devices get better every couple of years. Intel chairman emeritus Gordon Moore foresaw in the 1960s that the number of components on a chip doubled every couple of years. That made electronics cheaper, faster, and smaller. And the law has held up for decades, leading to advances such as far better glucose monitors.

Dexcom has ridden this wave. It was founded in 1999, debuted its first short-term monitor in 2004, and went public in 2005. It launched new glucose monitors in 2009, 2012, 2015, 2017, and 2018. The latest G6 Pro debuted in 2020. People can now attach the monitor to an insulin pump, and a software algorithm will figure out how much insulin to release into their bloodstream to counter a rise in blood sugar.

As the electronics became cheaper, Dexcom was able to create cheaper, more effective, battery-operated monitors that measured glucose levels and transferred the data wirelessly in real time, Sayer said.

The smartphone era

Above: The Dexcom glucose monitor shows you your blood sugar level in real time.

Image Credit: Dexcom

Peralta, the diabetes patient, has noticed the difference. When he started using Dexcom’s G5 monitor a few years ago, he had to manually calibrate it every 12 hours. That meant he had to prick his finger twice a day and analyze the blood to see if it matched the monitor’s results. It was also significantly bulkier than the current model. The newer G6 model is much smaller, and it can automatically monitor Peralta’s sugar levels 300 times a day and deliver the data to his Apple Watch.

“This was mind-blowing for me. A dramatic, immediate change for me,” Peralta said. “The fact that I no longer have to constantly calibrate is a huge game-changer for me.”

The Dexcom G6 Pro, which came out this year, is the first device approved for non-diabetic users. For non-diabetics, the Dexcom G6 Pro is OK to use in blinded mode. That means real-time glucose data is hidden from the patient and reviewed retrospectively with their health care professional at the end of the monitoring period. In unblinded mode, diabetic patients can see their glucose data throughout the 10-day sensor wear to gain insights and make treatment decisions in real time. (With that said, a provider could determine that a person might benefit more from seeing the data in real time, so there are scenarios where a healthcare provider might prescribe a G6 Pro off-label and enable a person without diabetes to wear it in unblinded mode. In that way, my usage of the Dexcom G6 Pro could be approved).

The monitors are still expensive at around $900. But roughly 98% of health insurance providers cover the use of these monitors for diabetic patients. It’s going to take a few more spins of Moore’s law to make such devices affordable to the masses. But the newest models are a lot less invasive, so patients are more likely to wear them all the time. And they also have a sharing feature that is critical for caregivers.

Sayer relates one story a customer told him. A young woman shared her glucose monitor results with her mother, who lived in Australia. One day, the young woman went to bed early during a modeling gig in New Orleans — and she didn’t wake up. Her mother saw the alert from the monitor on her smartphone. She called the paramedics, and they broke down the door of her daughter’s hotel room and saved her.

“There’s nothing more powerful than a story like that for someone with Type 1 diabetes,” Sayer said. “The game-changer for us has been the connection to the phone.”

Quantifying myself

Above: Here’s my glucose monitor test results after 10 days.

Image Credit: Dexcom

Pretty soon, this measurement technology and real-time monitoring — the stuff of dreams for quantified self practitioners — will become relevant to someone like me, who otherwise had no interest in the devices.

I don’t have diabetes, fortunately. As I agreed to test the monitor, I realized that I was going to get a glimpse inside my body that most people never get a chance to do. I found, as Sayer observed, that I could use this data not as a patient, but as a consumer. I could look at what I was doing and what I was eating and figure out what the effect was on my blood sugar.

It was pretty non-invasive. A nurse showed me how to attach it to the left side of my belly. There was a tiny pin prick when I activated the device, which poked a needle into my skin. After that, I couldn’t feel it anymore. The monitor itself was a little over an inch long and it was glued to my skin. I was able to wear it for 10 days and take showers with it. It automatically uploaded the measurements of my blood sugar in real time to my iPhone. It never fell off.

I was astounded to learn that eating a big pile of spaghetti was one of the things that could push my blood sugar level off the charts and even put me above the 180 milligrams per deciliter threshold that doctors considered to be high.

At the same time, when I went for a jog, I found my glucose levels dropped so much that it dipped below 70 milligrams per deciliter and triggered alerts for me, as if I were in danger of fainting. My average glucose level was 124 milligrams per deciliter, which was within the range of normal, according to an evaluation by Dr. Daniel Katselnik, a diabetes and metabolism specialist in Texas.

The range of numbers for sugar levels is what diabetes patients have to follow very closely.

“The more a person stays within the range, the better quality of life they will have,” Sayer said. “People can stay engaged with their status. You can eliminate hospitalizations and save money. Doctor visits are efficient.”

If someone like Peralta spikes above his limit or falls below the lower threshold, he faces big health risks. If his blood sugar is too high, it can damage his blood vessels. The lows, known as hypoglycemia, can lead to hunger, trembling, heart racing, nausea, and sweating. It can also increase the risk of other problems like heart disease, stroke, nerve problems, and kidney disease. It is a deadly problem, possibly leading to coma or death. An injection of insulin can head it off, but Peralta said that, in the past, the amount of insulin to inject was often a guessing game.

Above: Dr. Daniel Katselnik is a diabetes specialist.

Image Credit: Dexcom

The Dexcom app shared the data with the Clarity app, one of Dexcom’s partners, and the doctor, Katselnik, was able to access my data after I shared my account code with him. He got it in a matter of seconds, and we compared the numbers that the app recorded to my notes on what I was doing at the time. He noted right off the bat that 94% of my results were within the suggested range.

But 5% of the time it was high because of what I ate. And when I was out of the range, I got an alert on my iPhone. I figured out one of those nights was the big spaghetti dinner. Another day I had a spike after a lunch. I noticed when I drank a cup of orange juice, the sugar level went up to 145. When I had a lot of carbs to eat, I got sleepy, as the sugar level were starting the spike upward.

Sayer, who often tests new devices, said he bought doughnut holes for his grandkids and ate a couple of them. He noted that his glucose level was up 10 points during the day because they were so sugary.

“You learn about what you eat, the timing of your meals, and how everything makes a difference,” Sayer said. “You can see here are some meals that may not have been good for you.”

Help for prediabetics

Dexcom G6 is a continuous glucose monitor that connects to your smartphone.Dexcom G6 is a continuous glucose monitor that connects to your smartphone.

Above: Dexcom G6 is a continuous glucose monitor that connects to your smartphone.

Image Credit: Dexcom

Even after carb binges, my blood sugar returned to average because my pancreas was working well, unlike in a diabetes patient. The doctor said I could prevent diabetes in the future by controlling my diet, like reducing my intake of carbs. Eating carbs with protein and fat reduces the spike. You’ll notice the impact of different foods on your blood sugar. Alcohol will have a definite effect in making your blood sugar spike, though I didn’t try this.

Katselnik also told me that when your blood sugar is spiking, you can bring it down fast by exercising.

That’s a short-term solution. Over the long term, exercising a lot will help reduce the spikes in blood sugar. Katselnik noted that the Dexcom G6 Pro is a good sensor with FDA approval, with an accuracy level that is within 9% of lab testing accuracy. I used a single-use disposable device. There’s a version that has a transmitter that can last 90 days. This is far easier than pricking your finger hourly.

“This is clearly a leap. It’s accurate. It’s easy to use out of the box,” Katselnik said. “You don’t have to calibrate it or do anything along those lines. So you get all the information you want. And the nice thing is you can do it remotely. This is a life-saving device for a fair amount of people, and it’s a standard part of care.”

You can replace the transmitter and keep using it. The sensor lasts about 10 days, so you have to replace that and pop in the existing transmitter when you do that swap. Doctors use the Dexcom monitors on regular diabetes patients, Katselnik said. He uses it on dozens of diabetes patients as well as prediabetic patients who are borderline for having the disease.

“The big use in the future is for patients who are prediabetic or maybe at risk for diabetes, so they can get the data and change their behavior so they don’t become diabetic,” Katselnik said.

Actionable data for diabetes patients

Above: Ric Peralta uses Dexcom products to monitor his blood sugar.

Image Credit: Dexcom

For doctors and patients, these Dexcom monitors are godsends compared to the older machines. Peralta used to have to prick his finger and draw blood and put it into an analyzer to get his sugar level. That involved a lot of time. The new glucose monitors deliver this information instantly, and doctors can look at it instantly. In fact, caregivers can look at someone’s data and call an ambulance if they see the person is having an episode. Patients’ lives are being saved as a result.

“This is true continuous information,” Katselnik said. “The only thing that is comparable is heart-rate data, and that’s super simple compared to blood sugar data. The data can be used to change medications and dosages. We’re in an exciting time. We have fully embraced it at our office.”

Peralta said that his own endocrinologist is very pleased with the results using the Dexcom G6. Peralta is doing some fine-tuning with his routine as he still has some occasional lows. Those times were scary, as Peralta knew he had to do something. One time, he lost his vision and his ability to speak, but he was still conscious. While he couldn’t say anything, the app could send an alert to his wife. She could then engage with him and do something to help him out.

Now Peralta knows that if he is going to go for a strenuous walk in the woods, he has to eat something ahead of time to keep his blood sugar high enough so that his numbers won’t drop too low. Since the app works with the Apple Watch, Peralta can flip his wrist over to see where his blood sugar is at during the day, giving him reassurance or reminding him he has to exercise or eat or use his insulin shots.

“As a Type 1, that’s just part of your daily routine, as you are constantly worried about your numbers,” Peralta said. “With the old fashioned way of the fingerprick, it’s basically you’re gonna burn through more strips than the insurance will provide if you’re constantly checking. And so you’re constantly guessing. ‘How does my body feel? Am I high? Am I low? Am I going up or down? I think I feel this way.’ Instead, I can see exactly where I am now.”

The data is different from the usual data that we get from our devices today. It’s actionable.

“There’s no question that, moment to moment, this completely changes your life as a diabetic,” Peralta said. “As a Type 1, we are living our lives basically, constantly on this fight to just try to keep ourselves alive. If I didn’t have this equipment, if I didn’t have insulin, I would not be here right now. It’s as simple as that. And anything that allows me to approach living a normal life is a powerful tool that is worth having. I can plan out hikes and I can plan out trips.”

The future of the quantified self

Above: The Dexcom G6 (left) is a lot bigger than the next-generation G7 continuous glucose monitor.

Image Credit: Dexcom

Katselnik thinks that body-hacking people and professional athletes will also eat up this data and change their behavior as a result. Athletes who face low blood sugar find that they are completely out of energy. That’s why they need to monitor their energy and drink things like Gatorade to stay at high energy levels.

Back in 2012, Sayer noted an Olympics cycling team used the glucose monitors and found one particular athlete was running out of energy. They asked her what was happening and she said she was dieting because she felt she was bigger than the other athletes. The trainers put a stop to the diet and told her that her skills, not her body shape, was what got her on the team. Once she started eating properly, she was able to perform much better.

Over the long term, Peralta said he can also make good use of the data for his own self-service.

“As long as I have been doing this, I’m starting to notice through some of the other apps that I’m just finding new ways of micromanaging,” Peralta said. “If I’m starting to trend in a certain direction, then I realize that if I just give myself an insulin dose I can flatten that curve a little, but not so much that I’m going to drop off like a rock and be crashing in an hour. After I do this for months, I can see exactly what I need. And I’m definitely having far fewer peaks and valleys.”

Sayer said future products that use this core sensor technology will be able to help people in a variety of ways. You may, for instance, look to your blood sugar for why you’re in a bad mood. You can do something about it, like eat a snack. Artificial intelligence could come into the picture as well and handle a lot of the care so the patient won’t have to be so attentive.

“If I am snippy and biting someone’s head off, I can see it,” Peralta said. “‘Oh, this is why I’m like this. This is why I’m in a bad mood.’ And I started apologizing for what I did and saying, ‘Look, I’m sorry, but this is why.’”

He’s grateful for the technology. “I think I can come pretty darn close to living a normal life,” Peralta said.

At some point, the quantified-self fans will likely be a market opportunity, as the company will be able to make cheaper monitors for those who are just curious about their bodies. “What’s more important about that use case is giving them a meaningful experience, like developing analytics engines around that for somebody who is not a diabetic,” Sayer said.

A sliver-thin Dexcom G7 device is about the size of a nickel, and it will have its own transmitter built into it. It’s in the product pipeline for 2021. I’m waiting for the day when a monitor will look at my breakfast and tell me not to eat the bagel that’s on my plate.

“We obviously have to take the cost out of this to get it to the mass market,” Sayer said. “This is real health care. This is life and death stuff. We have a lot to do. It makes it very easy to go to work every day.”

The DeanBeat: Did gaming peak in Q2? Nope. Maybe it just got started.

The NBA is back. So is Major League Baseball, sort of. Other sports may find their way back as well. As these demands on our entertainment time return, does it follow that video games that profited during the pandemic will hit their peak and start to go back down?

I don’t think so. I think gaming is just getting started.

Companies such as Electronic Arts are noting this phenomenon in their earnings calls this week, but they’re also wondering aloud how long the good times will last, or if we’ve crossed a bridge to a society where everybody plays games.

But it’s a crucial debate for the entire game industry. After all, everybody has to plan ahead. Macroeconomics and micro-level behavioral changes will have an impact on whether the mainstream will continue to embrace the entertainment value of console, PC, and mobile games.

During the second quarter, in the height of the coronavirus lockdown in the United States, more people turned to video games than ever before as a salve or a social outlet or a distraction or a newfound passion. And these new people are on top of the 64% of U.S. adults who are gamers.

Maybe gaming doesn’t shut off

EA Sports FIFA 19 is due out later this month.EA Sports FIFA 19 is due out later this month.

Above: FIFA keeps on growing in 2020.

Image Credit: EA Sports

Electronic Arts said Thursday it beat its earnings targets in its best second calendar quarter in history because tens of millions of new people started playing its video games during the pandemic. Heck, even my wife played a video game recently.

“This is off the charts,” said Blake Jorgensen, the chief financial officer at EA, in an analyst call, regarding FIFA monetization. “It just continued to get stronger and stronger. We’ve hit the right tone with consumers. We’re delivering for consumers what they want.”

Now people are starting to go back to work and watch sports as they return to television or online. EA CEO Andrew Wilsion argued that this could be more than a one-time blip. In the analyst call, he said, “Social interactions in our world are moving from physical to digital, and … the consumption of sports and entertainment is moving from linear to interactive.”

Normally, EA and other game companies would have seen the summer doldrums. That should have been doubly true in a console transition year, as everybody normally waits and saves their money to buy new systems and the new games that go with them in the fall.

But this year, there is no down cycle.

“It is still well above what we’ve normally seen, particularly at this time of the year, which is the slowest time as we move from one sports season to the next,” said Jorgensen. “A lot of people are engaging in FIFA Ultimate Team in the sports franchises. And we don’t think that shuts off overnight and maybe never shuts off.”

He noted that Star Wars fans still play Star Wars games even when there isn’t a Star Wars movie to get excited about. That goes for sports fans, too. If the NFL doesn’t have a season this fall, NFL fans will still play Madden so they can get their football fix. Either way, games are part of the entertainment diet.

During the EA earnings call, some of these questions came up. What if the gains in new gamers are temporary? Will those new gamers go back to doing other things when the pandemic is over? Of course, we may also wonder if the pandemic will ever be over, and if behavior will be permanently changed so that we’ll do more things remotely and digitally from now on. And if people continue to be out of work, will they stop buying even video games as they run out of disposable income?

There’s a lot riding on these questions.

“It’s all about the economy at the end of the day,” Jorgensen said. “Are you confident economy’s going to be strong for the next six-to-12 months? I just don’t know. That’s the thing that weighs on us the most. And yet at the same time, we know that the engagement in our games has never been higher.”

What if it’s full steam ahead for games?

Work at a Pizza Place has been played 1.9 billion times.Work at a Pizza Place has been played 1.9 billion times.

Above: Work at a Pizza Place has been played 1.9 billion times on Roblox.

Image Credit: Roblox

But maybe there’s another possibility.

“The unbelievably high monetization we saw in Q1 does not drop off a cliff,” Jorgensen said. “It will slowly decline as we all go back to a normal life.  But if you ask many of us, that might be six months, nine months, or two years.”

Maybe it’s time to think about the economy and how games can help it. Companies might aggressively pour their energy into making the Metaverse, the universe of virtual worlds that are all interconnected, like in novels such as Snow Crash and Ready Player One. That would be a virtual world that would ease the burdens of the pandemic.

Rather than plan for down cycles, game developers and publishers might think about a world where everybody plays, like the world of the upcoming game Cyberpunk 2077, except maybe in 2027 instead. Maybe we can create jobs with a Leisure Economy, where people make a living player games, as we’ve seen with modders, streamers, cosplayers, esports athletes, and user-generated content creators.

I don’t want to discount the fact that we’re living in a tragic time with unprecedented hardships and challenges that are demanding our attention, like the #MeToo movement and Black Lives Matter. But maybe the way out of this mess is not to take us back to the way things were. Maybe the way out is to embrace the digital world and make it happen even faster and sooner, and make it happen everywhere around us.

Sure, companies might have to plan for the bad economy and a decline in demand. But they might also plan for the contingency that video game demand takes off and takes over.

Tens of millions of new players dove into EA games during the pandemic

Electronic Arts CEO Andrew Wilson said in an earnings call with analysts today that tens of millions of new players have joined the company’s games since April. That’s a rare one-time change caused by the global health emergency that has left many in isolation at home, but the company believes that many of the new fans will be lasting players.

With other forms of entertainment and live physical events shut down, video games have seen a surge and EA is no different, even though the company only launched two games (Command & Conquer Remastered Collection and Burnout Paradise Remastered) during its most recent first fiscal quarter ended June 30. Wilson said it was the biggest first fiscal quarter in EA’s history, and the publisher was raising its full-year sales estimate by $400 million to $5.62 billion. Live services and other net bookings during the quarter were $1.1 billion, up $416 million from the prior year.

“As EA, we sit at the intersection of two fundamental secular trends that have become increasingly clear: First, social interactions in our world are moving from physical to digital, and second, the consumption of sports and entertainment is moving from linear to interactive,” Wilson said. “We’ve seen both of these trends accelerate during the COVID period. Tens of millions of new players have come into our games, and we also have many players returning to our franchises after some time away. In addition to higher engagement from our existing players, these new and returning players are now deeply engaged in our live services, establishing new play patterns and building new friendships in our games.”

Huge engagement

Wilson said that the five-year-old mobile game Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes saw its best quarter since 2018, and that game has now generated $1 billion in lifetime bookings. Overall, mobile bookings were up 32% from a year earlier.

“This is an unprecedented time, and it was an unprecedented first quarter for our business at Electronic Arts, with extraordinary growth in our games and live services and record financial performance,” Wilson said, in the call with analysts.

FIFA 20.FIFA 20.

Above: FIFA is seeing lapsed fans flock back to the series.

Image Credit: Sony

Wilson also addressed the social turmoil of the last few months, as well as caring for employees during the time of the pandemic.

“In addition to the ongoing challenges of the pandemic, these last few months have brought forward important cultural conversations around racial and social injustice, harassment and misconduct,” Wilson said. “We’ve long held equality, inclusion and diversity at the center of our beliefs at Electronic Arts, and as a company, we’ve made our positions clear and demonstrated with our actions that we have a long-term commitment to making a positive impact in our world.”

Blake Jorgensen, chief financial officer and chief operating officer, noted that The Sims 4 was up 110% from a year ago. But he’s concerned about where the global economy and the U.S. economy will be in the next six months or the next year. Given the uncertainties, Wilson said it would be hard to predict the patterns of the new and returning players. That’s why EA is being cautious about its projections for the future.

While EA’s launch schedule was light, the company delivered over 30 new content updates to existing console and PC titles, including two major game expansions, as well as more than 50 updates to mobile games.

The battle royale Apex Legends saw the most game sessions played and highest revenue total since the launch quarter for Apex, and engagement in Season 5 reached the highest levels since the first season of content, Wilson said. The recent event, Lost Treasures, generated 96 million hours played in its first two weeks. Apex Legends is coming to the Switch and Steam, with crossplay coming later in the year.

Coming games

Star Wars: Squadrons is here. Star Wars: Squadrons is here.

Above: Star Wars: Squadrons reports in October 2.

Image Credit: EA

EA gave its FIFA 21 team more time to work, pushing the launch back two weeks to October 9. But players flocked to the current FIFA, which saw acquisition of new and returning players grow more than 100% from a year ago. Seven million new FIFA players joined during the quarter, and FIFA Online 4 has now reached nearly 30 million players to date.

Madden NFL 20 also saw player acquisition grow nearly 140% in the quarter compared to a year ago, and virtually every measure of Madden Ultimate Team engagement is up more than double over last year. EA’s Origin business grew 75% in the quarter from a year ago, Wilson said. And the total number of players in subscriptions on Origin, Xbox One and PlayStation 4 grew quarter over quarter. Wilson said gamers are acting as if the games are more like social networks, where players socialize and make lasting friends.

“Looking forward, we’re also seeing strong engagement” in the second fiscal quarter, Wilson said. “Although it is difficult to predict ongoing levels of growth in this environment, we have grown our player base during this period and added value to our network.”

For the second fiscal quarter ending September 30, EA has game launches such as UFC 4 coming on August 14 and Madden NFL 21 on August 28. In the third fiscal quarter, Star Wars: Squadrons launches on October 2, FIFA 21 launches on October 9, and NHL 21 launches on October 16. In the third fiscal quarter, EA expects bookings of $875 million.

Esports content

Star Wars: Galaxy of HeroesStar Wars: Galaxy of Heroes

Above: Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes now has more than 1 billion bookings since 2018.

Image Credit: EA

Wilson said EA delivered 85% more esports broadcast content in the last four months than it did in all of 2019, thanks to a cloud-based broadcasting platform for esports. Demand for the FIFA, Apex Legends, and Madden esports content is “unprecedented,” Wilson said.

Looking forward, Jorgensen said, “We are taking a cautious view that assumes that we continue to see a modest tailwind to engagement, driven in part by continued shelter-in-place orders. This is offset by a weaker economy and by the slightly later sports launches.”

Wilson closed by saying that EA employees have supported nearly 1,000 charities in the past three months with tens of thousands of hours of volunteer time and donations totaling $3 million.

EA reports strong June quarter with revenue up 21% to $1.46 billion

Electronic Arts reported financial results today that beat Wall Street’s expectations with revenue growing 21% to $1.46 billion for the first fiscal quarter ended June 30.

The big game publisher released just two games during the quarter: Command & Conquer Remastered Collection, a remake of the real-time strategy series created by Westwood Studios in the 1990s; and Burnout Paradise Remastered. Of the big titles coming, one represents a small slip in schedule, as FIFA 21 will come out on October 9 in the third fiscal quarter ending December 31, rather than in the second fiscal quarter ended September 30.

But EA’s development teams put out more than 30 content updates as part of the live services it provided for its existing games, the company said. For instance, EA released Season 5 of its battle royale Apex Legends, with engagement levels reaching the highest since Season 1. And during the quarter, player acquisition for FIFA Soccer was up more than 100% from a year ago, and Madden NFL was up 140%. EA also said that The Sims 4 has more than 30 million players over all platforms, releasing on Steam as part of the publisher’s push on Valve’s PC game service.

During the first fiscal quarter, EA’s stock price rose 31.8% in Q2, while Activision Blizzard’s grew 28% and Zynga’s grew 39%. Much of the rise was on the speculation that all game companies would benefit during the pandemic, as people stayed in and play games while in self-isolation and quarantine orders. In after-hours trading Thursday, EA’s stock price was flat at $138.59 a share.

EA reported GAAP net income of $1.25 a share on revenues of $1.46 billion for the first fiscal quarter, compared to net income of $4.75 a share on revenue of $1.2 billion a year earlier.

“They blew numbers away and raised guidance by half the beat,” said Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter in an email to GamesBeat.

Analysts expected EA to report earnings of 79 cents a share on revenues of $1.06 billion. A year ago, EA reported earnings per share of 25 cents on revenue of $743 million.

Andrew Wilson, CEO of Electronic ArtsAndrew Wilson, CEO of Electronic Arts

Above: Andrew Wilson is the CEO of Electronic Arts

Image Credit: EA

“This was an extraordinary quarter, and we’re deeply proud of everything our teams at Electronic Arts are doing for our players and communities,” said CEO Andrew Wilson in a statement. “We launched new games, deeply engaged players in our live services, and welcomed tens of millions of new players to our network. It was an unprecedented first quarter of growth in our business, and we will continue building on that strength with more innovative experiences, more groundbreaking content, and more ways to connect with friends and play great games throughout the year.”

In the previous fourth fiscal quarter ended March 31, EA generated $1.39 billion in revenues for Q4. EA has begun broadening its distribution, releasing nearly 30 games on Valve’s Steam digital distribution network. The games were previously only available on EA’s proprietary Origin service.

During the quarter, EA also shifted its esports strategy to all-digital events, driven by the pandemic to avoid physical events with big crowds.

In the second fiscal quarter ending September 30, EA has Madden NFL coming August 28, and in the third fiscal quarter ending December 31, EA has the highly anticipated Star Wars: Squadrons space-combat title coming October 2 on the consoles and the PC and FIFA 21 on October 9. The FIFA date is significant, as revenues will move out of the second fiscal quarter and into the third fiscal quarter for that game.

For the full fiscal year, EA said it expects revenue to be $5.62 billion and net income to be $869 million, or $2.97 a share.