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.
“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.