EA expects 20% of sales to be digital

Publisher says Battlefield: 1943 reaped $16 million as FIFA Ultimate Team mode has soccer fans spending as much as $700 on virtual trading-card packs.

Last year, Activision CEO Robert Kotick told investors that trends like expensive peripherals, limited-edition bundles, and downloadable content had gamers willing to spend upward of $500 on a single game. In his own investor presentation, Electronic Arts CFO Eric Brown today confirmed that players are willing to top that total on DLC alone.

It's appropriate that Ultimate Team packs are colored like precious metals.

Speaking at UBS's 38th Annual Media and Communications Conference today, Brown emphasized the growing role digital sales, and DLC in particular, are playing in the publisher's portfolio. This fiscal year, EA is expecting to draw 20 percent of its revenue--about $750 million--from digital business, the vast majority of that coming from DLC and full-game downloads.

One particularly profitable example Brown gave of the company's digital efforts was in the FIFA series' Ultimate Team mode, which has players assemble fantasy teams by purchasing trading cards that let them add players to their squad for a limited number of games. The trading-card packs can be earned through normal gameplay or purchased through microtransactions.

"We see people spending $500, $600, $700 on digital card packs to play Ultimate Team simulation mode," Brown told investors.

For FIFA 09--the first game to introduce Ultimate Team mode--EA brought in $15 million in digital revenues thanks to the Ultimate Team trading-card packs. Brown pegged the development cost of adding the mode in the single-digit millions. The following year's game brought in roughly $30 million, and while FIFA 11 numbers aren't final yet, Brown said he expects that growth trend to continue. While the mode has since migrated to EA's Madden NFL and NHL franchises, Brown did not provide numbers on its performance in those titles.

Full-game downloads have also been a burgeoning business for EA. The company expects $90 million to $100 million in PC full-game downloads this year and has had success with the model in the console space as well. Brown pointed to Battlefield 1943, the stand-alone Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network shooter that debuted in mid-2009. The game cost in the single-digit millions to build but netted EA about $16 million in revenue (after Microsoft and Sony had taken their cuts).

For more on how EA's digital endeavors work, check out GameSpot's previous coverage of the first Ultimate Team-enabled FIFA and Battlefield 1943.

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126 comments
coasterride509
coasterride509

EA goes digital download, Activison goes COD and peripherials, Microsoft goes Kinect, Sony goes 3D, Nintendo goes 3DS.

Enisi_
Enisi_

@DukeNukeThem. Yes, because your criticism of console gamers was balanced, untainted by bias, and supported by fact. I made one personal attack - admittedly, I criticised the fact that you thought patches and updates were hard to install. Yes, you have struck a nerve - I thought I was hardened to uninformed PC elitists, but apparently not - but the fact that you consider console gamers a lower class irritates me, especially as you seem to struggle with the most basic PC maintenance, maintenance which any console gamer would be able to carry out on a PC. If you're going to be an elitist you should at least have some computing skill about you. I welcome any response you may have.

DukeNukeThem
DukeNukeThem

@Enisi_ Why are you still arguing with me? You've made no attempt to make a valid argument, and have even resorted to personal attacks. I obviously struck a nerve, and have a terrible feeling your one of those uneducated type that has a hard enough time turning on their computer.

anthonycg
anthonycg

@Stealthos Profitting on the ignorance of others is indeed deceitful and what is wrong with the world today. To think that is ok is simply greedy.

Stealthos
Stealthos

@anthonycg How am I what's wrong with gaming today? "Screw over others so I can profit" - Are you being serious? If people want to spend that amount of money on a game who am I to tell them not to. How are they being screwed over if they are WILLING to pay that? The few that spend these high amounts on one game wouldn't keep spending if they weren't getting something out of it. And regarding me profiting from these people - there is nothing wrong with any of us hoping that this money is used on creating more games or making games cheaper/free. I don't play MMOs but I wouldn't complain about the many people that have spent $500+ on Warcraft alone or complain that people who join in free on any MMOs that use a free-to-play model are 'profiting from screwing over others' who pay microtransactions.

widdowson91
widdowson91

@blackace: I wasn't trying to say that Eurpoeans wouldn't buy them, I was simply stating that Americans would also buy them. I mean either way you have to be stupid to buy them seen as though you can eventually earn them for free, but saying somebody wouldn't buy them just because they're American is stupid.

blackace
blackace

@widdowson91 said: @blackace: I'm European, and may I say I've never bought and DLC and none of the people I know even play Fifa. You're being very narrow-minded. As a continent Europe does, on avarage, have more gamers per-head then any other continent on the planet, but a lot of Asian gamers from like Korea, China and Japan, on average, spend more time playing video games. It's more likely that Asian gamers are buying these digital card packs. And of course some Americans would be stupid to buy them, American people aren't some holy super-humans who can't be fooled in to buying things, they are just like the rest of us. ************************************************************* Doesn't Europe buy the most Fifa games of any country? I can see Asian coutnries but those cards, but I'm sure European countries have bought them as well. American aren't into soccer games. If anything, we might have bought a few Madden cards, but no where near what Fifa sold. I have bought none. I don't even own Fifa 2011 or Madden 2011. lol!!

Shanks_D_Chop
Shanks_D_Chop

These CEOs need to learn that people are much LESS likely to spend all that money on their little exploitive methods if they tell everyone that they're planning to exploit them. As for digital sales... I only use Steam to buy and download games like Worms Reloaded or the original Deus Ex. Any new releases, I always get the hard copy. And Dragon Ages taught me the folly of paying for DLC.

Stevel024
Stevel024

Smartest move EA made was making ultimate team free to play... more people (like me) are willing to buy packs... I'll admit I've spent $30 on gold packs for FIFA 11 whenever they had the giant pack sales... but I would have never played Ultimate Team if it wasn't free to play

0B3L15k_o_Li9hT
0B3L15k_o_Li9hT

I would like to say that I'm not a fan of digital stuff: I much prefer hard-copy for my money, as I feel that there is no guarantee that digital material will be available to me forever. I'd also like to say, for absolutely no reason, and forgive me for wandering off topic momentarily: gay gay gay

widdowson91
widdowson91

@blackace: I'm European, and may I say I've never bought and DLC and none of the people I know even play Fifa. You're being very narrow-minded. As a continent Europe does, on avarage, have more gamers per-head then any other continent on the planet, but a lot of Asian gamers from like Korea, China and Japan, on average, spend more time playing video games. It's more likely that Asian gamers are buying these digital card packs. And of course some Americans would be stupid to buy them, American people aren't some holy super-humans who can't be fooled in to buying things, they are just like the rest of us.

Gruug
Gruug

Boycott all item shops!! Seriously! If you don't like the trend....don't use it. It will go away.

SPBoss
SPBoss

See how the devil kotick is influencing other companies to milk their consumers.. thanks alot man.. its going to be a snowball effect. Soon games will game out with no content at all, everything will be dlc including the main character

blackace
blackace

Daian Posted Dec 8, 2010 3:03 pm PT @blackace That's cute...but it's wrong! . Europeans don't spend ridiculous amounts of money on these cards, in fact the bigger the fan , the bigger their desire to play through the game and earn them. ************************************************************ Yeah.. right. Then who's spending $500 on those digital card packs to play Ultimate Team? U.S. gamers wouldn't waste their time on stuff like that for Fifa 2011. That's for sure. Someone is making EA $15 million richer. I don't think I've ever bought a DLC from EA. I think I got some free BF:BC2 stuff, but that was about it.

Daian
Daian

@blackace That's cute...but it's wrong! :P . Europeans don't spend ridiculous amounts of money on these cards, in fact the bigger the fan , the bigger their desire to play through the game and earn them. @BetardxFoosier U can't blame the companies for taking advantage of people's willingness to spend money on costumes,skins, weapons and other pointless extra crap. U need to blame the ones that continue to pay for this stuff, thus giving all the reasons publishers need to continue releasing that stuff for money. Meanwhile the rest of us have to suffer the consequences of missing out on those extra missions that should be added in a full expansion.

gbrading
gbrading moderator

EA need to improve their download manager. It's alright, but it pales in comparision to other digital distributions.

BetardxFoosier
BetardxFoosier

The DLC schemes would go away if you may a vow not to buy them. I have yet to purchase any DLC for any game. Any content that is added to a game should be free. The only exception is when companies release expansion packs (Blizzard), where the addition of content is enough to warrant a price tag. Charging for costumes, skins, map packs and that stuff is extremely petty though.

widdowson91
widdowson91

@Welshmun: The way you're talking makes you sound like a nut job. You're mis-interpreting what a lot of people are saying. DLC is a rip-off but I, and others, have nothing against it if it is done fairly. It's bad when developers make you pay extra for DLC when the DLC should have been in the game in the first place. This is the reason why a lot of people complain.

Welshmun
Welshmun

yes?! and why isnt anybody mentioning the fact that corporations now give more free dlc than ever e.g left 4 dead battlefield two off the top of my head... moan moan moan moan dont like it, dont buy it you bunch of communist nut jobs

blackace
blackace

"We see people spending $500, $600, $700 on digital card packs to play Ultimate Team simulation mode," Brown told investors. " That's hilarious!! Even more so after I read this. "The trading-card packs can be earned through normal gameplay or purchased through microtransactions. " This just tells me all these cards are . If you play the game normally, eventually you will unlock all the cards. Why spend $500 extra dollars on that crap. LOL!! EA finds another sucker every day. ******************************************************************* MrGoodKill Posted Dec 8, 2010 6:44 am PT Wait, what? "We see people spending $500, $600, $700 on digital card packs to play Ultimate Team simulation mode," Brown told investors." For FIFA? Really? Who are these people?? ---------------------------------------------------------------------- European nerds who are huge soccer (football) fans who must have every player and superstar on their teams immediately. lol!! They added these cards to Madden, but I doubt Americans will waste $500 - $600 on DLC for these stupid cards. That's ridiculous.

Enisi_
Enisi_

@DukeNukeThem 'Consoles you just pop in the game to play'? Yes, that's inserting a disc, pal. You may have to do that when you purchase a hard copy, even for the mighty PC. If you consider 'know-how' to include patches, drivers and upgrades then obviously, you didn't make it far on your computing course. If someone of your base intelligence can maintain a PC, I'm sure any console gamer can install a few patches now and then.

PotHeel
PotHeel

@DukeNuke Them - no-how, is that as in "not no way not no-how"? Just out of curiosity you understand. This news is good though, I wouldn't own half the games I do were it not for Steam and their cut-price deals.

DukeNukeThem
DukeNukeThem

@Enisi_ Yeah, you keep telling yourself that bud, PC gaming requires more skill and no-how than console gaming, fact. Consoles you just pop in the game to play, PCs take maintenance, patches, drivers, upgrades, etc.. many things console gamers consider to be rocket sceience.

Ghoulish_Visage
Ghoulish_Visage

I knew EA had this idiot view ever since I was confronted by an in-game salesman for Warden's Keep in Dragon Age. Selling something that is half-assed, and offering to give you the full product once you pay more is a small step away from thievery.

chtgamer
chtgamer

"20 percent of its revenue--about $750 million--from digital business, the vast majority of that coming from DLC and full-game downloads. " jeeses.... people, dont buy DLC crap maybe then those guys will start to make decent single player campaign games again

ZoTrAcK
ZoTrAcK

They also loose loyals customers, I sold my Madden 11 because of the scam... This is disgusting how this game in itself is empty! Unless you pay,pay and pay. But they probably don't care for the people, they can loose 10 loyals customers for 1 customer that will spend 500, 600 or 700$ on add-on content. I don't buy anymore EA games because the price of every of their games raised to 69,99$ (in Canada). And each of there games are made to be incomplete deliberatly, with DLC already anticipated before the game itself is out. The big problem with that is that never an add-on content will be free with EA... Why giving additions while some people are willing to pay? Even if it cost virtually nothing for their company....I'll finish by saying: Just take a look at the stock of EA on the market (ERTS), I really don't think they are on the right way but it's good to make believe!

Muteki_X
Muteki_X

@ Roidz87 Exactly! There are too many great games that have already come out that we can go back and play or simply replay classics we loved. If a compay does a great job on a game and deserves a purchase, we should pick up a new copy to reward them. If they resort to shady tactics, but someone really, really wants the game, then be a little patient and search for a cheap used copy.

anthonycg
anthonycg

@Stealthos Let them screw others so you can profit? You're what's wrong with gaming today.

Roidz87
Roidz87

Ultimately, if companies start skimping on games upon release and expect us, as the consumer, to spend more on DLC, then we need to fight back. Do not purchase games like a mindless drone as if you cannot live without them on day one. If companies resort to these tactics, a simple boycott on the purchasing of new games will give them a hint. The quality of the product should not be downplayed in order to re-charge consumers in order to play what should have been the final product. Technology is awesome but, as is the case with DLC, it can also be a nuisance as well.

Muteki_X
Muteki_X

@ helldude90 You hit the nail on the head. If anyone here read "The Future of Gaming: DLC" which Gamespot published on August 31, 2010, I'm sure they remember the quote from Ghost Recon: Future Soldier's producer Stuart White. "DLC is going to get a lot bigger. It's a great move for both consumers and developers--we'll spend less time worrying about shipping content upfront and more time on tweaking the game according to player response." To me, his quote pretty much admitted that they'll be making half-assed games up front, which will still be full retail price I'm sure, then tweak the game later on if enough people buy it. If your console isn't connected to the net, then you buy a sub-par game and are just SOL.

widdowson91
widdowson91

I have strong views on DLC. If you're playing, say, Call of Duty and you get a Map Pack I'm alright with that. When I dislike it is when a developer makes a game, then takes 20% of it out and tries to give it back to you as DLC. I hope that the industry never goes download only. I like getting games in a physical form on a dsic with a box and maual, if it ever goes all digital I'll quit buying new games and stick to playing the ones I already own. A game is England now costs like £40-£45, now it it went download only I bet developers would try and charge is the same ammount, yet they should be cheaper beacause they don't have to package and distribute them.

cajunstrike
cajunstrike

Quite ironic considering many believed NBA Jam should have been released as a download.

Kid2812
Kid2812

Well I gave up on almost all of EA's games, Fifa and MOH are dead to me, I havent even bothered to spend £40 on Fifa 11 or £15 on MOH 2010. I still like Battlefield and I hope Mass Effect 2 (ps3) is good.

Frostyballoon
Frostyballoon

@helldude90 I agree with you and disagree with you...Some DLC like GTA gay tony and the biker one couldnt been in the GTA4 game..as well as the fallout 3 series..BUT there is alot of games that have 5 mins of DLC for 20 bucks and its bull$h*t

Enisi_
Enisi_

@penpusher Yes, but Steam is a (mostly) independent seller which vends full games, demos and mods at reasonable prices. EA plans DLC before the game it is intended for is even released, and will no doubt charge inordinate amounts of money for said DLC. It's hardly coincidental that Kotick explained the potential profit from DLC and EA then announced its plans later.

helldude90
helldude90

The reason I hate DLCs is because publishers release half finished games for 60$, and then they rip off gamers by releasing the rest in DLCs.

Enisi_
Enisi_

@DukeNukeThem Your opinion of console gamers is offensive, ignorant and, even worse, unoriginal. I don't understand why PC gaming is considered to be such an elitist pastime - the way a lot of people would have it, similar to wine-tasting. I am, primarily, a console gamer who has dabbled in PC gaming, and I see no difference between the two. The idea that PC gaming requires more skill, or that PC gamers somehow transcend console gamers, is a myth, frankly.

Hekynn
Hekynn

Well ya Digital is now and the future look at Steam etc.

KabutoHunter
KabutoHunter

$700.... for.. virtual cards. Gaming has officially lost its soul.

penpusher
penpusher

@Enisi_ well it is very profitable, just look at steam it has millions of customers

penpusher
penpusher

@Kleeyook judging by the linked article hes refering to guitar hero and its assorted extras, like extra controllers, mics, drums, album packs, theres a lot of stuff in there and people buy them... its a bit sad cause some of those album packs are twice that of an actual album...

Kleeyook
Kleeyook

WHo are those that waste their money for $500 for a single game?

ps3ownz97
ps3ownz97

tbh we should boycott dlc saying we refuse to buy any then if they lose money they wont make dlc

Xplode_77
Xplode_77

Wow.... Up to 700 dollars....

japanesegoth
japanesegoth

wait...so people are really paying money for digital trading cards?? wow. thanks for encouraging them to rip us off even more. people are so stupid..there's no other way to say it. they're going to ruin gaming. you'll be buying everything piece by piece eventually. there are a few companies that i can still count on..i.e. nintendo.

Sharhan96
Sharhan96

This is milking our pockets to a new degree..... For me, the amount I spend on one game is more than enough. I dont want to pay that much just to enjoy every feature in the games that i buy.