paidContent 50: The world’s most successful digital media companies

39. Electronic Arts

Games, United States (Public)

Last year’s rank: #26

Digital Content Revenue

$1,070,000,000 (29% of total)

Digital Snapshot

The big dog in the gaming park, EA is known for its licensed sports franchises for boxed games like FIFA, which alone has made it over $5 billion in revenue to date. But, in a gaming market challenged by spiralling production costs and the waning of the current console cycle, the firm has pared back its tier-A release schedule from 67 in 2009 and 54 in 2010 to 36 in 2011. It expects to release just 22 big-budget games in 2012. Gaming’s momentum is not with plastic discs but with online distribution, mobile and social gaming.

Key Move

EA fired further in to gaming’s truly digital future — to gain more control, more direct consumer revenue and cheaper production and distribution costs. After acquiring the relatively small social games maker Playfish, EA sold $743 million in games online in 2011, which was 42 percent more than the previous year. Though console makers, app stores and networks like Facebook control much of this distribution, EA also launched its own store for PC and mobile games, Origin, picking up 11 million members and $150 million in download sales in 10 months. Meanwhile, EA’s Stars Wars: The Old Republic online game became the genre’s number-two title, with 1.7 million active subscribers. All of this helped slim EA’s losses, but the games publisher purists love to hate is still in the red.

Our Methodology

Although games on discs are inherently digital, we are not counting themx and are interested in the new worlds of digital distribution, mobile and social gaming, etc. EA stated it made this much from extra online game content, full-game downloads, mobile games and subscription, ads and other digital revenue.
Source: Q4 2012 slides

— RA