Electronic Arts chief executive Andrew Wilson said that the video game publisher has “strong momentum” moving into the holiday season as it prepares to launch its big Star Wars Battlefront and Need for Speed titles in November.
EA has seen a turnaround in recent quarters, as have other video game companies that have invested heavily in next-generation consoles such as Activision Blizzard, Take-Two Interactive, and Square Enix. EA raised its full-year earnings and revenue outlook as a result of its more optimistic outlook.
The change in outlook reflects “excitement for upcoming titles including Star Wars Battlefront,” Wilson said.
In a Q&A, Wilson said that younger players are coming aboard as potential players as well as “lapsed players,” or those who haven’t played in a while. Peter Moore, chief operating officer at EA, said that 9.5 million players logged 1.6 billion minutes of gameplay during the recent beta test. EA believes there will be a long tail for the Star Wars game, given the excitement around the revival of the Star Wars franchise thanks to the upcoming trio of movies.
He said that EA sees growth in key metrics such as the numbers of players spending time with EA games in a month, the time spent with each game, and the ability to connect to EA games via more platforms. Average plays on EA Sports games are up 30 percent from a year ago.
And since EA didn’t change the app for its Madden NFL 16, retention was up 300 percent compared to last year.
Wilson said that the rebooted Need for Speed and Star Wars Battlefront would be “groundbreaking new experiences” for EA gamers. He noted 9.5 million people played the Battlefront beta test, and 19 million watched on video streams. Wilson said that EA was focused on improving infrastructure so it can have a stable and scalable experience at launch.
In the name of keeping game quality high, EA is shifting the launch of Mirror’s Edge: Catalayst to May 24.
EA reported second fiscal quarter earnings that beat expectations for the quarter ended Sept. 30. The company’s results are widely watched as a bellwether for the $91 billion global market for all things gaming. EA had been forecast to post non-GAAP earnings of 45 cents per share on revenue of $1.1 billion for the September period. The company reported results of 65 cents a share on revenue of $1.5 billion. A year ago, EA had a profit of 73 cents a share on $1.22 billion in revenue.
During the quarter, EA released its Madden NFL 16, FIFA 16, and NBA Live 16 titles. EA’s shares have more than doubled in the past year. A year ago, EA’s second fiscal quarter benefited from the release of The Sims 4 and a relatively weak dollar.
EA’s big title coming on November 17 is Star Wars Battlefront. The Need for Speed reboot also debuts on November 3.
EA had previously raised its revenue guidance from $4.4 billion to $4.45 billion. It also previously raised its non-GAAP, full-year earnings forecast by 10 cents to $2.85 per share. EA kept the revenue guidance at $4.4 billion, and it raised its forecast to $3 a share. For the fiscal third quarter ending Dec. 31, EA forecasted it would report non-GAAP earnings of $1.75 a share on revenues of $1.77 billion.