Tidbits From Today’s Electronic Arts Earnings Call

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Posted by patrickklepek (4623 posts) -
The Old Republic is off to a solid start, but where it goes in the next months remains to be seen.

Sometimes we can count on quarterly financial calls dropping hints about games we’re looking forward to, but there was no such excitement in today’s third quarter earnings call by Electronic Arts.

That said, there was plenty to chew on during the hour-long call.

Throughout, CEO John Riccitiello and friends bobbed and weaved between numbers and pats on the back regarding the launch of Star Wars: The Old Republic, and I jotted down these bits for you.

  • Origin now has 9.3 million users.
  • The Old Republic sold two million copies across retail, digital.
  • TOR has 1.7 million active users, with 300,000 users having “opted out” (read: quit) or not started at all.
  • A “majority” of the 1.7 million active users of TOR are paying subscribers.
  • EA was reluctant to discuss the outlook of TOR, saying it had avoided the worst outcomes, the game was profitable, but that “there could be a wide range of outcomes.”
  • There will be a “major update, larger than the first [one]” for TOR sometime in March.
  • Pre-orders for Mass Effect 3 are currently ahead of where Mass Effect 2 during the same period.
  • Battlefield 3 sold more than 11 million copies, and more downloadable content is coming.
  • EA claims to have had 11% of the first-person-shooter “market” prior to Battlefield 3. Now, it claims to have 23%.
  • Mobile games are a $100 million-per-year business for EA.
  • The company expects to generate more than $100 million from FIFA Ultimate Team in the next year.
  • A major social game, based on an unknown but existing EA property, has been delayed a few months.
  • There will be five new Facebook games based on EA properties within the next year.
  • When asked about copying in social games, Riccitiello said this: “Fast iteration and mimicry is something we have to guard against.”

The most interesting financial call of the week, however, should come tomorrow from THQ.

Staff
#1 Posted by patrickklepek (4623 posts) -
The Old Republic is off to a solid start, but where it goes in the next months remains to be seen.

Sometimes we can count on quarterly financial calls dropping hints about games we’re looking forward to, but there was no such excitement in today’s third quarter earnings call by Electronic Arts.

That said, there was plenty to chew on during the hour-long call.

Throughout, CEO John Riccitiello and friends bobbed and weaved between numbers and pats on the back regarding the launch of Star Wars: The Old Republic, and I jotted down these bits for you.

  • Origin now has 9.3 million users.
  • The Old Republic sold two million copies across retail, digital.
  • TOR has 1.7 million active users, with 300,000 users having “opted out” (read: quit) or not started at all.
  • A “majority” of the 1.7 million active users of TOR are paying subscribers.
  • EA was reluctant to discuss the outlook of TOR, saying it had avoided the worst outcomes, the game was profitable, but that “there could be a wide range of outcomes.”
  • There will be a “major update, larger than the first [one]” for TOR sometime in March.
  • Pre-orders for Mass Effect 3 are currently ahead of where Mass Effect 2 during the same period.
  • Battlefield 3 sold more than 11 million copies, and more downloadable content is coming.
  • EA claims to have had 11% of the first-person-shooter “market” prior to Battlefield 3. Now, it claims to have 23%.
  • Mobile games are a $100 million-per-year business for EA.
  • The company expects to generate more than $100 million from FIFA Ultimate Team in the next year.
  • A major social game, based on an unknown but existing EA property, has been delayed a few months.
  • There will be five new Facebook games based on EA properties within the next year.
  • When asked about copying in social games, Riccitiello said this: “Fast iteration and mimicry is something we have to guard against.”

The most interesting financial call of the week, however, should come tomorrow from THQ.

Staff
#2 Edited by ShinyTan (45 posts) -

FACEBOOK GAMES WOO

#3 Posted by GenghisJohn (256 posts) -

Fuck these Fifa hackers. I just got my account back

#4 Posted by WJist (313 posts) -

That last quote from Riccitiello is probably the most telling of where EA is.

#5 Posted by mrpandaman (866 posts) -

Huh? Interesting wasn't expecting this.

#6 Posted by NotValeriusCato (20 posts) -

Those numbers sound good for TOR, but if that were the case wouldnt' they be more upbeat?

#7 Posted by RE_Player1 (7560 posts) -

Good to see Battlefield 3 selling a bunch. Hell of a game. I bought both the PC and PS3 version.

#8 Posted by Shaanyboi (1295 posts) -

"■Pre-orders for Mass Effect 3 are currently ahead of where Mass Effect 2 during the same period. " Well yeah, I mean it's simultaneously coming for two platforms this time. (Or is it three? PC is on there, right? Nevermind) Anyways, regardless of my interest in it, I am glad TOR was 'profitable', so it's not like this huge gamble is necessarily going to result in an enormous amount of layoffs or anything, but that's not to say it really made a HUGE splash or anything. I'm interested to see where it goes from here...

#9 Posted by Rirse (266 posts) -

Fuck EA, I rather hear about them dying then THQ.

#10 Posted by NewfieBullet (87 posts) -

I just realized I'm one of those 9.3 million Origin users and all I've bought since I registered was Burnout Paradise for 5 bucks.

#11 Posted by Atwa (620 posts) -

@Shaanyboi: Saying that TOR was profitable already is very ignorant. MMO's are long term investments. The 200 million spent are nowhere CLOSE to being earned back yet and the game is just over a month old. Wait half a year and check the numbers to see if it can be profitable. It might still crash and burn. Seeing how the general response across message boards seems very negative it could get very ugly.

#12 Edited by Scodiac (470 posts) -

I bought Battlefield 3 on Origin a few weeks ago. It's good to see the game has succeeded and is holding a large portion of the FPS crowd. It certainly deserves it. I enjoyed the campaign but the multiplayer along with Battlelog has made it one of the best PC games I've bought in a long time. I'm just lovin' Battlelog.

#13 Posted by jozzy (2042 posts) -

@patrickklepek said:

  • The Old Republic sold two million copies across retail, digital.
  • TOR has 1.7 million active users, with 300,000 users having “opted out” (read: quit) or not started at all.
  • A “majority” of the 1.7 million active users of TOR are paying subscribers.
  • EA was reluctant to discuss the outlook of TOR, saying it had avoided the worst outcomes, the game was profitable, but that “there could be a wide range of outcomes.”

I would be really interested in the percentage of users that opted out after the free month ran out. Those 1.7 million are a mix of subscribers and players that started the game after launch.

#14 Posted by Winternet (8019 posts) -

THQ financial call will try hard to make it sound that everything is ok. Poor fellas.

#15 Posted by patrickklepek (4623 posts) -

@jozzy said:

@patrickklepek said:

  • The Old Republic sold two million copies across retail, digital.
  • TOR has 1.7 million active users, with 300,000 users having “opted out” (read: quit) or not started at all.
  • A “majority” of the 1.7 million active users of TOR are paying subscribers.
  • EA was reluctant to discuss the outlook of TOR, saying it had avoided the worst outcomes, the game was profitable, but that “there could be a wide range of outcomes.”

I would be really interested in the percentage of users that opted out after the free month ran out. Those 1.7 million are a mix of subscribers and players that started the game after launch.

Based on what EA has said, a "majority" means roughly 800,000 users are paying.

Staff
#16 Posted by Viking_Funeral (1791 posts) -

I'm confused on the TOR numbers. If I remember correctly, they stated that they needed 500k in steady subscribers to be profitable. The 1.7m is much higher than that. Almost 3x. So why aren't they very excited?

It also contradicts what I've read elsewhere, but who's to say that other information is valid?

#17 Posted by ApocalypseLater (100 posts) -

My desire to own Battlefield and Mass Effect 3 has me contributing to these numbers but I don't foresee using Origin except in the instances when I'm forced to by this stupid EA/Valve disagreement. I really dislike the idea of having separate digital distribution platforms for all my games.

#18 Posted by patrickklepek (4623 posts) -

@Paul_Is_Drunk said:

I'm confused on the TOR numbers. If I remember correctly, they stated that they needed 500k in steady subscribers to be profitable. The 1.7m is much higher than that. Almost 3x. So why aren't they very excited?

It also contradicts what I've read elsewhere, but who's to say that other information is valid?

A "majority" are paying, not 1.7 million. It's more than 500,000, but they need to maintain and expand that to recoup. Being profitable upfront doesn't mean the gamble is an entire success. They need to make back everything they've spent and more, not just cover daily operating costs.

Staff
#19 Posted by Dark_Lord_Spam (3302 posts) -

So I see EA's bitch-fit handling of its properties on Origin has panned out well for them. Huh.

#20 Posted by Zabant (1241 posts) -

@patrickklepek said:

@jozzy said:

@patrickklepek said:

  • The Old Republic sold two million copies across retail, digital.
  • TOR has 1.7 million active users, with 300,000 users having “opted out” (read: quit) or not started at all.
  • A “majority” of the 1.7 million active users of TOR are paying subscribers.
  • EA was reluctant to discuss the outlook of TOR, saying it had avoided the worst outcomes, the game was profitable, but that “there could be a wide range of outcomes.”

I would be really interested in the percentage of users that opted out after the free month ran out. Those 1.7 million are a mix of subscribers and players that started the game after launch.

Based on what EA has said, a "majority" means roughly 800,000 users are paying.

Now i'm no doctor but isn't 800k less than half of 1.700.000?

some "Majority" EA

#21 Edited by jmrwacko (2443 posts) -

When asked about copying in social games, Riccitiello said this: “Fast iteration and mimicry is something we have to guard against.”

Didn't really guard too well against that when you guys developed SWTOR to be WoW in space, did you?

#22 Edited by jozzy (2042 posts) -

@patrickklepek said:

@jozzy said:

@patrickklepek said:

  • The Old Republic sold two million copies across retail, digital.
  • TOR has 1.7 million active users, with 300,000 users having “opted out” (read: quit) or not started at all.
  • A “majority” of the 1.7 million active users of TOR are paying subscribers.
  • EA was reluctant to discuss the outlook of TOR, saying it had avoided the worst outcomes, the game was profitable, but that “there could be a wide range of outcomes.”

I would be really interested in the percentage of users that opted out after the free month ran out. Those 1.7 million are a mix of subscribers and players that started the game after launch.

Based on what EA has said, a "majority" means roughly 800,000 users are paying.

If we assume that most of those 300k are people that opted out -because who buys a game at day 1 and don't at least try it out- they would have a dropoff rate of 250k / 1100k = 22.7% in the first month. If true, that would be pretty impressive. I don't know, something feels fishy about all this.

EDIT: 250k would be based on most of the 300k that somehow are not active anymore, 1100k would be 800+300.

#23 Posted by kerikxi (541 posts) -

The Origin numbers are a lot less impressive when you consider it's the only online platform for Battlefield 3. Gets even less impressive when they sold more copies than they got subscribers.

#24 Edited by CornBREDX (5295 posts) -

At this point TOR has made back (approx numbers here) more then half what they spent to develop it. For an MMO, especially one that cost so much to make, that's not that bad for the first month.

#25 Edited by cavemantom (215 posts) -

@SpaceButler14 said:

Those numbers sound good for TOR, but if that were the case wouldnt' they be more upbeat?

It sounds to me like they're hedging their bets. Saying, “there could be a wide range of outcomes,” is a far cry from their earlier statements on the viability of the $15 a month subscription method. Before launch, the Doctors seemed pretty certain that ToR would prove the continued marketability of subscription based play.

They'll hold on to the monthly fees until they see a continued drop in players. As is the nature of the genre, that day will probably come. There will always be plenty of Star Wars fans who will happily pay for any Star Wars related experience, but SOE already demonstrated the size of that audience. BioWare and EA want more-- they need more.

I wager that by 2014, ToR will likely use a F2P model similar to LOTRO's. The common thread I see in conversations about the game is that people like their class quests, and they want more of them. I think they'll have an easier time giving the game away and selling you story continuation than they would asking you to continue paying monthly until the next relevant update drops. The only question is which method will offer the higher return on investment.

There's still a lot of money to be made on people who keep active subscriptions for games that they don't spend much time playing, with the added benefit of not having to create new content for them to consume. But, there's still the possibility that they wouldn't keep the subscription active, and that they would play more and pay more if appealing content were available.

#26 Posted by Gaff (1758 posts) -
@kerikxi Well, I guess the PS3 / 360 versions of BF3 would account for some of the 11+ million copies sold?
#27 Edited by mnzy (2914 posts) -

100 Million from Ultimate Team? WHAT THE FUCK? 
Isn't that free now? So they basically earn that much money by selling virtual player cards that you can unlock just through playing the damn game? That's fucking insane. Fuck.

#28 Posted by kerikxi (541 posts) -

@Gaff: Oh yeah, certainly. But the way they pushed BF3 on PC as the 'lead' platform, it's gotta be around a third at least. Which would be around half the Origin subscribers. Just spitballing obviously since they'll never dig that deep on the numbers.

#29 Posted by drowsap (681 posts) -

@GenghisJohn said:

Fuck these Fifa hackers. I just got my account back

Same here

#30 Posted by cmblasko (1235 posts) -

"EA claims to have had 11% of the first-person-shooter “market” prior to Battlefield 3. Now, it claims to have 23%."

Would really like to know how these kind of numbers are determined.

#31 Posted by Rotten_Avocado (83 posts) -

I opted out of starting TOR but can't wait to drink in Mass Effect 3 :0O

#32 Posted by amir90 (2156 posts) -

I hope star wars do well enough to get a couple of expansion packs out.
There are plenty of small bugs to fix too.

#33 Posted by PurplePartyRobot (179 posts) -

You know, every time I read about earnings calls I imagine the CEO in some high-tech secret lair sitting in some high-back chair reporting numbers and statistics to other faceless talking heads being displayed on an array of television screens. I also keep imagining both parties sharing dialogue such as "This pleases us greatly." and "Yessssssssssssss" while tapping their fingers together.

#34 Posted by Craquehead (8 posts) -
Origin now has 9.3 million users.

That number by itself isn't very interesting; I imagine that's almost entirely BF3 and TOR owners. I'd love to see the average number of titles per account.

#35 Posted by HatKing (5950 posts) -

Star Wars and Battlefield 3 were way too close together in the subtitle there. My mind jumped straight to Star Wars Battlefront 3!

#36 Posted by huser (1082 posts) -

@NewfieBullet said:

I just realized I'm one of those 9.3 million Origin users and all I've bought since I registered was Burnout Paradise for 5 bucks.

Well from what I saw they've made 100 million on it. Which is a lot of money to be sure, but means the average user paid about 11 bucks into it.

#37 Posted by Ben_H (3361 posts) -

Facebook game is based on the Urbz, calling it right now.

#38 Posted by JDillinger (149 posts) -

lol at the salty fanboys in these comments.

#39 Posted by Oherro (11 posts) -

@jmrwacko: I agree, but if this game started development 4 years ago(?) that puts it around 2007 and The Burning Crusade release. I can see a bunch of rich old dudes sitting around the board room looking at graphs and wanting to copy as much of the winning formula Blizzard was dishing out. Makes sense when risking millions, 200 million of them. Maybe someone even said "Will people still be jazzed about playing this type of thing 4 years from now?", but it fell on deaf ears. By the time WoW started bleeding subs it was to late.

#40 Posted by HaltIamReptar (2029 posts) -

@CommissarDuke said:

You know, every time I read about earnings calls I imagine the CEO in some high-tech secret lair sitting in some high-back chair reporting numbers and statistics to other faceless talking heads being displayed on an array of television screens. I also keep imagining both parties sharing dialogue such as "This pleases us greatly." and "Yessssssssssssss" while tapping their fingers together.

That's actually exactly what happens. Surely your imagination can summon an image better than reality?

#41 Posted by Skooky (476 posts) -

I like how they mentioned FIFA Ultimate Team. I like how Patrick put it in the list.

#42 Posted by Nigglenummy (78 posts) -

Vgchartz puts the number of SWTOR retail copies sold at 2.05m not counting digital copies. I think at least an extra 100k digital purchases is realistic. In any case, 1.7m active subscriptions is impressive. Even though there are some free months still included in that.

It's more than anyone out there, especially all the haters, expected. I don't see how this can be seen as anything but a success and a testament to how well it has been received by the non-vocal majority. I was expecting a number half that big.

#43 Edited by Grimluck343 (1149 posts) -

TOR has 1.7 million active users, with 300,000 users having “opted out” (read: quit) or not started at all. A “majority” of the 1.7 million active users of TOR are paying subscribers.

...What the fuck is an active user if they aren't paying?

Edit:

said:

People still using their free month of play time.

#44 Posted by ArchTeckGuru8 (228 posts) -

9.3 unwilling users

#45 Edited by Agikamike (55 posts) -

Forgive me if you think I'm plugging, but as an aside to all the stuff EA announced, I went around and did a little snooping of my own and found this.

#46 Posted by akeripper4 (153 posts) -

@Agikamike: the second one requires login.....

#47 Posted by Shaunage (711 posts) -

Ultimate Team should be illegal.

#48 Edited by Agikamike (55 posts) -

@akeripper4 said:

@Agikamike: the second one requires login.....

Yeah, it seems all pending articles on n4g.com require log-in. Feel free to ignore it, it's just an n4g link to the first article.

#49 Posted by sins_of_mosin (1556 posts) -

Sure seems to me that TOR is doing very well.

#50 Posted by SagaciousJones (143 posts) -

Aren't all of these statistics cut off after the fiscal quarter? Does that mean that TOR had 1.7 Million subscribers on December 31st, or is that an up-to-date estimate?

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