EA betting on Apex, FIFA and LOTR for long-term growth; Battlefield could launch this year

 

EA has said that its next financial year will be “driven by live services, particularly in mobile,” as it posted a rise in bookings across the board for Q4 2022.

While recent buys Glu and Playdemic didn’t get much attention, EA kept returning to the launch of Apex Legends Mobile, continued FIFA growth and the new Lord of the Rings game from the Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes team as drivers for its next financial year.

EA CEO Andrew Wilson also suggested that Battlefield Mobile could go into “further testing” – possibly soft launch? – this month, and that the game could launch globally at end of this year or beginning of next.

There was also confirmation that EA is testing different ways to implement in-game ads more broadly, following recent news around the topic. 

The figures in brief:

  • For the whole business, Q4 FY22 net bookings are up 18% YOY at $1.751bn
  • Again for the whole business, full FY22 net bookings are up 21% YOY to a record $7.515bn
  • Q4 FY22 mobile revenues were $322m, up 66% YOY
  • Full FY22 mobile revenues were $1.193bn, up 52% YOY
  • Q4 FY22 FIFA Mobile saw “new unique players” up 80% YOY

In the prepared remarks that followed the results, CFO Chris Suh hailed EA’s mobile teams for passing the billion-dollar milestone this full financial year, reaching $1.193bn in net bookings for FY22. 

For 2023’s financial year-end, Suh projected that net revenues would be “driven by live services, particularly in mobile, and supported by the strong launch slate in the second half.” Those games were Apex Legends Mobile, FIFA and LOTR: Heroes of Middle-earth, which is launching this year.

Just for fun, we charted EA’s mobile net revenue over the last two years, based on the financial data released yesterday.

When asked about mobile in the earnings call that followed, CEO Andrew Wilson said of the category: “We think that the brands that we have, the expertise that we have that we’ve built organically internally and that we’ve acquired through recent mobile acquisitions, represents a really strong opportunity for us over the long term.”

“Remember, when you launch these games, they last for five-plus years as live services,” he continued. “And what you’re seeing this year is three big launches for us in addition to our existing portfolio, which is incredibly strong, and we’re going to invest behind that for the long term.”

Later, Wilson said that he was confident that large initial UA costs around those launches would pay off over time.

“The acquisition spend early on to supercharge when you launch is higher, but remember, these are live services,” he said. “And what we’re doing with them is we’re driving a golden cohort at the beginning of the launch, and that cohort will continue to deliver return that we build on over time for the course of the next five-plus years.”

A screen from Battlefield Mobile’s Google Play store listing.

On Battlefield Mobile, Wilson suggested the shooter could be “going into further testing at the end of May”, and that “we might look towards the end of this year, beginning of next year” for global launch.

“We don’t have any money in FY23 right now against that title, so if it was to launch this year that would be an upside potential for us,” he continued. “And we want to give ourselves the opportunity to ensure that the game has all the soft launch and closed beta that it needs.”

EA also said it had come through the roughest of the IDFA changes, and following recent reports around Xbox and PlayStation looking to implement ads in console games, Wilson said EA is testing different ideas in the space.

“In entertainment media, and in games, particularly in mobile games right now, you see that there is a place for advertising when done right,” he said. “And there is a portion of the community that when when given the choice will participate in advertising, where it benefits their gameplay experience.”

“We’ve learned some of this from Glu as we brought Glu into the organisation, and we’ve seen this across the industry,” he continued. “So you should expect that we would continue to kind of test different things, ensuring first and foremost that we uphold the best possible player experience. But where there is an audience that, given the choice, would like to engage with advertising, and that have the ability to do so, we want to make that available to them.”