Electronic Arts is known for its popular disc-based titles such as Madden NFL, Battlefield, and Need for Speed. What few realize is how successful the publisher has been in the digital realm, with profits largely propelled by the recent shift towards mobile computing.
According to The Guardian, EA generates more revenue from DLC, mobile and the web, than from sales through conventional disc-based games. The most recent sales figures, taken from the first quarter of 2013, show that digital revenue accounted for $378 million of the total $495 million that the company brought in. Putting this into percentages, 76 percent of EA's business can be linked to digital content.
Peter Moore, EA's COO, said in a statement at the company's post-earnings financial call that "Apple was EA's biggest retail partner measured by sales." The breakdown between iOS and Android is currently unknown, but together they are estimated to have made nearly $90 million from tablet and smartphone users.
Overall, it's not too surprising to see that EA has adopted the mobile model. Smartphones have one major advantage over consoles: console owners are far and in between, but mobile devices are used by practically everyone. In addition to the wider consumer base, these titles are usually offered free-of-charge, enticing users to download apps at will. For example, EA's Real Racing 3 has amassed over 45 million downloads to date, and boasts approximately 2 million daily active users.
In response to the publisher's mobile success, EA Labels president Frank Gibeau, added, "Right now, it's growing like gangbusters. And a lot of that is due to its global nature. It's a platform that appeals across multiple regions and multiple territories. But they're very unified platforms to publish into so it's very efficient for us."
It will be interesting to see how the upcoming line of game consoles impacts disc sales. There is plenty of excitement surrounding the new Xbox One and PlayStation 4, but will it be enough to revitalize a slowly dying breed?