EA posts $1 billion annual loss

[UPDATE] Madden publisher's earnings report shows huge fiscal year 2009 losses despite increased sales; Lord of the Rings: Conquest sells 1 million, Warhammer Online subscribers now 300,000.

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It's been a rough year for the industry, but few companies have taken it on the chin like Electronic Arts. Today the publisher released its financial results for the fourth quarter and fiscal year ended March 31, showing that the company limped to the finish line in a year that saw it lose more than a billion dollars.

EA's financial results were almost as grisly as a good round of Left 4 Dead.
EA's financial results were almost as grisly as a good round of Left 4 Dead.

Net losses for the 12 months were just less than $1.01 billion, more than twice the previous year's $454 million in red ink. However, the publisher's sales were up for the year, with revenues jumping 15 percent year-over-year to $4.21 billion.

For the fourth quarter on its own, EA posted sales of $860 million, down nearly 24 percent from the previous fourth quarter's $1.13 billion haul. Those sales were led by Skate 2, Rock Band 2, The Lord of the Rings: Conquest, Left 4 Dead, and Need for Speed: Undercover. The good news for the publisher was that it has a net loss of only $42 million during the three-month stretch, compared with $94 million during the same period last year.

In a statement accompanying the release of the numbers, EA CEO John Riccitiello focused on the company's future instead of its rough recent past.

"EA's strong cost actions in Q4 FY09 together with our investments in our digital service businesses will set us up for a stronger FY10," Riccitiello said. "EA is well positioned with the right strategies in a growing industry."

Unfortunately, those strategies might take a while to turn things around. EA updated its fiscal 2010 guidance, saying that it expects revenues for the full year to be down to between $3.7 billion and $3.85 billion. It also expects to lose money in fiscal 2010, although not quite as much as in fiscal 2009. For the full year, EA is expecting losses between $274 million and $469 million.

Electronic Arts is holding its quarterly conference call with investors this afternoon. This story will be updated with details as appropriate.

[UPDATE] Highlights from the conference call are listed below:

--Pandemic's recent release The Lord of the Rings: Conquest has sold more than 1 million copies.

--The most recent info on Warhammer Online puts the game's dedicated player base at 300,000.

--Electronic Arts is currently working on a lineup of 30 games for Apple's iPhone.

--EA Sports Active is confirmed for release this month.

--Riccitiello said that he's confident that 10 EA Wii games to be released during the current fiscal year will be hits.

--The Sims 3 should be a major reason why EA Play division sales are expected to be up $300 million in the coming year. There will be downloadable content for the game on day one, as well as Apple Macintosh and iPhone versions.

--EA Sports revenues are expected to be flat for the year, whereas EA Games should be up on the strength of Mass Effect 2, Dragon Age, Army of Two: The 40th Day, and more.

--In a Q&A session during the call, EA executives acknowledged "softness" in the rhythm-game category that has caused them to lower their expectations for that part of their business.

--Riccitiello said that he doesn't think softness in the Wii market in Japan necessarily presages similar softness in North America. However, he does think that Asian trends such as subscription-based games are gaining considerable traction in the West.

--When asked about research and development spending for the next generation of consoles, Riccitiello said that he hasn't seen indications that a next generation needs to come anytime soon. He added that the current generation could definitely be an extended console generation because there isn't as much need for advancement now that gaming has entered the HD era.

--Riccitiello said that one of the company's problem games that suffered as a result of the economic downturn last year was Need for Speed. EA is confident that this year's Need for Speed, Madden, and FIFA games "feel very strong," He also pointed to EA Sports Active and Brutal Legend as potential breakout games.

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Super_Austy_X

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Maybe they should make better quality games instead of reusing old titles.

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Lebowski-Dude

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Uh, the major tip because people won't shut up about: Maybe you should cut your excessive DRM usage, EA. A lot of people would have one less thing to complain about

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Mikethechimp

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Hey, EA. Here's some tips: 1) Telling any given development team to "speed it up, we're going release the game as soon as possible" does NOT increase sales. 2) Telling any given development team to "take off some of the content, we'll sell it as a DLC when the game's sales start to wear off" does NOT increase sales.

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tawagivercetti

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Need for speed needs to retire to Florida, enough already.

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costlywar

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Maybe EA should ask for bailout money,lol. At least they realized that the sport aspect is not doing too hot. Maybe they can bounce back by making decent total sports games like ( football), basketball, etc.....

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-snorlax-

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couldnt happen to a better company.

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Bartiemuss

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Good to see the New IP's are doing well and it seems people are getting sick of the same sports games every year.

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Moppyp

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What the new Need for Speed for the PS3?

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HUNTER-VENOM

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I don't know why people are talking trash now that there putting effort into making new IP's like Dead Space,Mirror's Edge and there trying to support the Wii with Dead space and a new Madden that looks like an updated Tecmo Bowl. I personally hate realistic looking sports games *football and basket ball* so the new look is something I'll play. It also looks like there easing up on DRM. I can't wait for Dante's Inferno and NFS Shift which looks amazing!

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Gorshalach

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Maybe if they made good games they wouldn't be losing money.

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VegetaMaelstrom

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"Riccitiello said that he's confident that 10 EA Wii games to be released during the current fiscal year will be hits." Tiger Woods 10 for the Wii will be a guaranteed hit seeing it is packed in with WiiMotionPlus. Maybe Boom Blox 2 and that EA Active game but 10 hits? Doubtful. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- "There will be downloadable content for the game (Sims 3) on day one" Ok folks, between this and the disgusting way Capcom has handled Street Fighter 4's and Resident Evil 5's DLC we are now way past the slippery slope and are approaching terminal velocity. Enough is enough. Stop the gouging EA. DLC is supposed to be additional content, not stripped out content. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- "EA Games should be up on the strength of Mass Effect 2, Dragon Age, Army of Two: The 40th Day, and more" I wouldn't hold my breath for Mass Effect 2 or Dragon Age selling too well if EA insists on infesting the PC versions with SecuROM and limited installs. It hasn't served them well in the past so what makes them think it will magically increase sales this time? ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ "EA executives acknowledged "softness" in the rhythm-game category that has caused them to lower their expectations for that part of their business." I actually don't blame EA very much for this "softness" they are referring to. I think ActivisionBlizzard's constant Guitar Hero milking has made many people very tired of having to buy yet another music game instead of just purchasing downloadable new tracks every week or so without the need to fork over $60 each and every time. Mind you EA isn't helping themselves with Lego Rockband coming out.------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ "Riccitiello said that one of the company's problem games that suffered as a result of the economic downturn last year was Need for Speed" Bullsh*t. Time for EA to finally look in the mirror on this one and admit they phoned it in last year. The Need for Speed franchise has had some outstanding games in years past but last year's outing was terrible. And I am not at all convinced that their solution of pumping out 3 or 4 more NFS games in the next year or two will get them out of the rut they are stuck in. They should pull a Tony Hawk and take a year off and put the time and effort into making a truly special NFS game that wows everyone for the first time in a long time. EA losing a boatload of money is karmic justice in my opinion. What goes around (Bullfrog, Westwood, Origin, etc.) comes around (-$1,000,000,000 in annual revenue).

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BlackHawkSaber

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Err, how do you sell more games than last year and yet still lose a billion bucks?

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FloodOne

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nurse_tsunami Posted May 6, 2009 2:44 am GMT If EA would commit to putting out less games a year, but making those games it does put out that much better, it wouldn't be in this kind of trouble. Instead of trying to be everything to everyone, it should focus on where it can shine, like the Sims (probably their biggest seller), RPGs with Bioware, action games like Dead Space and Dante's Inferno, etc. They need to cut their fat and close or reduce studios that haven't been doing well for years now. Otherwise they are going to have to make tougher decisions down the road when they don't want to. Why should they release fewer games... That's what Squenix does, and nobnody is happy about that

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imprezawrx500

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ea really should put up lots of their old games on steam as well as all new games not just some, that would make them a tone of money.

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CHAOS100

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@EinsteinNewton Yeah I agree, I should have mentioned Dead Space is probably the best game EA have produced in a couple years. It was probably made as a side project that ended up being a fluke and a good game. But if they make a sequel somehow, they will apply said procedures and remove the scare factor from the game probably.

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nurse_tsunami

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If EA would commit to putting out less games a year, but making those games it does put out that much better, it wouldn't be in this kind of trouble. Instead of trying to be everything to everyone, it should focus on where it can shine, like the Sims (probably their biggest seller), RPGs with Bioware, action games like Dead Space and Dante's Inferno, etc. They need to cut their fat and close or reduce studios that haven't been doing well for years now. Otherwise they are going to have to make tougher decisions down the road when they don't want to.

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g3toutj00

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it would really be bad to see EA close its doors. ive been playing games that EA has made since i was 5 years old. They make some games that r just amazing and then make some that flat out suck but how is that different then any other company out there.. i have a nice idea for them and there sports games tho. make a new one every 2 years not every year. the only thing u do each year is put out new rosters for less then 20 bucks..

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supergg2k

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I bet that investment in securing the exclusive NFL license looks really good now. Not.

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Ebaumisnoob

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Aura, their most recent acquisition, Bioware, is no small-time company

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MajorWaffle

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If Need for Speed, Madden, and FIFA games did bad maybe its because they really don't change it that much. They make one every year. they expect people to buy one every year.

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endocrine

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Matt their revenues were up year over year, if that is not recession proof I do not know what is. The problem is they are dumping alot of their losses into the next to years by spending on new businesses and IPs. If their bet pays off they will make large long term profits. Not only that they can justify wide scale layoffs because they lost money investing in the future. If their bet pays off, their ceo will be the biggest genius in the entertainment industry.

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aura_enchanted

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haha EA hasnt learned a damn thing since they started this whole "buy up the small timers" plan.

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Haeravon

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Wait.. There's going to be downloadable content for Sims3 on day 1 of release? Why the hell cant they put that DLC on the game? What sense does that make? Selling off a game and then putting up optional content for extra money? I hope that's not going to become a trend for the industry.. expansions are fine, even 'collectors edition' bonuses, but this is just robbery.

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aduttyfoot

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"EA doesn't make crappy games they make good games like Crysis for example...anyone so not all of their games are bad." your joking right. EA did not make crysis, crytek did. "Keep it up EA, you will file Chapter 11 in no time! can't wait to see them close down Vancouver studio. " i dont think that would be a good thing because all those artist and development staff would be out of work. also if they closed down i am not sure if that would be good for the industry. its like if one of the console makers closed down leaving only two companies standing.

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mattxavier

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The gaming industry is fast begining to look like the Auto industry, EA kind of reminds me of GM, the problem is that when you fight on every front or in EAs case try to concentrate on every part of the video game market, losses will be made.

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mattxavier

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Shows the game industry isn't recession proof, even with GTA4, Take2 took a loss.

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EinsteinNewton

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chaos100, you said "ips that could have been great ideas" dead space is mature rated, pretty gruesome and i love it.

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Pashok

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EA did try to buy Take 2, he's right

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joecwild

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Maybe if EA stopped pushing every game they have they would have more money.

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skyjon

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@ chaos100 About what you said about GTA4, you are thinking of Nintendo, not EA

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shakensparco

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I hate how EA is monopolizing the market and so many of their games are total crap and yet they still sell. But on the other hand they make some good games like wii--x360 said. Crysis and Mass Effect are both great games.

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Pete5506

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ya what ever maybe they will start to think more

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CHAOS100

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Revenue is up and income is down. Nice management by EA there. For a company that seems to be so focused at pumping out low-quality games just for the sake of making profit, well looks like they can't do that very well either. I'm glad their stock price dropped by 50% since last year. Meanwhile other companies make some decent games and have success. I wouldn't say that its the fact that EA makes terrible games now adays, as they have some new IPs that could have been great ideas. Whats makes EA terrible is that it always has its procedure to make games available to all audiences to make more money, so they cut out violence and make the game 'more accessible' aka bland boring and unoriginal gameplay that doesn't even provoke any thought in a 6 year old. Also it cuts out most of the gameplay features down to about 50% so that you have to pay more for the rest of the game in 'DLCs' and expansions. I was trying to picture what EA would have done with the GTA series if it had bought out Take 2. I figure it would be like Need for Speed but with pedestrians. But you wouldn't be able to kill any pedestrians as they run out of your way in time, and blood is removed. There would be no harsh language in the game, and the story would revolve around some non-criminal activities. You would only get half of 1 city island, but you could pay $10 for opening up another island. Additional weapons above the original 3 would cost $1 each. EA can you hire me now? We think so much alike.

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Paulf001

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Maybe EA will finally learn rehashing the same games year after year won't work anymore. People want some quality in their games. I haven't bought any EA games in the longest time. People want to play something good for their $60, not some shovelware that they might of spent 1 week on.

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wii--x360

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EA doesn't make crappy games they make good games like Crysis for example...anyone so not all of their games are bad.

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lakomdol

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well not suprised reallly happy did they really think they could get away with securom,drm and online activation, you didn't reallly buy game you kind of rented since you were limited to how many times you can installed

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warmaster670

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people are still hating on EA? theve been making good games, go bash Ubisoft and there 1000 DS petz games.

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gamer082009

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LOL, I'm so happy they lost 1-Billion dollars. That's what they get for trying to monopolize the industry. I won't be supporting any EA games anytime soon, especially when you have so many other much better talented game companies to support.

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Dman0017

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is anyone surprised? they publish low quality games and they expect to make a profit

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Brendissimo35

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this is well deserved, honestly.

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Zloth2

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"...they can produce they're own, massive amounts of shovelware that looks appealing to non-gamer familys and make tons of money" Deja vu. I was saying exactly that about the consoles about 10 years ago.

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Jd1680a

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Stopping the top executives lavish bonuses would help prevent the $1 billion loss.

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SpinoRaptor24

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Just when they are starting to release some good games.

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da1writer

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I'll be Michael Pachter for a second and analize why EA gained this loss in revenue... "Maybe people finally smelled the coffee and realized that Madden 09 was the same as 08 and 07 and 06... In all honesty, there hasn't been a good football game since ESPN NFL 2K5... Maybe EA should spend less money on rights and killing companies (buying them is not the right word) but put their focus on games on platforms that matter. Iphone and wii... please, I'd rather go grab me an Activision Blizzard game. Put all your eggs in the basket and put some games out for what the gamers crave... the glory days of Need For Speed like the Hot Pursuit series or Dead Space on the Consoles that SELL M rated games like Hot cakes. For real EA, you should do what I plan to do later... pull my head out my.." And here I am... wondering why big time publishers of video games like EA are losing money... aw well, there's always next year.... Like to put a big shout out to dev8stator_Ic9, I totally lol'd when it came to your comment!

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bigmiller2009

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I don't mind EA that much. They made a GREAT hockey game in 09. Problem is, aside from that and Dead Space, there wasn't much of their titles that I was overly interested in. All that said, I hope they do better in coming years.

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h1dd3n5had0w

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Make a true BF2 sequel aimed at the PC market. I don't want this console friendly/port crap. I've read articles in the past where the BF2 did quite well despite all the issues and bugs. "EA's popular PC shooter breaks the million mark in sales; newest BF title brings franchise tally to more than 7.2 million." << LINK REMOVED >>

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dev8stator_Ic9

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-"..working on a lineup of 30 games for the I-phone." 30 games on the I-phone? You have got to be kidding me. They're wasting their precious money on I-phone games, pathetic. Sims 3-.."there will be DLC out on day 1" Well I guess its time for Sims expansion pack/DLC bonanza!! Wee!! -.."10 Wii games released during the current fiscal will be hits" Yeah, in sales but no quality. The Wii to most big companies looking to absorb more money from the pockets of happy families is like a saint. Since the Wii is a magnet for non-gamer families who think its healthy to play Wii Fit and Wii Sports, they can produce they're own, massive amounts of shovelware that looks appealing to non-gamer familys and make tons of money, if the game is popular of course. And how is it not tempting for game developers to make low budget, cool looking, Wii shovelware for a console which has sold over 44 million units(getting near to the SNES sales of 49 million) to many unuspecting non-gamer families? Its sad, too. Nintendo has brought Wii owners who are loyal fans great games like Galaxy, Brawl and Twilight Princess, but there simpily is not enough 3rd party games for the system that are actually good. But I'm no hater either, I know that the VC is awesome and the good games just might be enough to keep fans busy for months.

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speedytimsi

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Fifa on xbox alone probably beat all of the Madden sales.

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Darkon_X

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Good, hopefully this will make EA realize they need to make better games, specially make those EA Sports brand games better.

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viewtiful_jay

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SalarianChemist, stop your hating on the PS3. Wii development does not make money for most 3rd party developers, especially not for one like EA. How much did Madden 2009 for the Wii sell compared to it's 360 & PS3 counterparts? Answer - 1. Madden NFL 09 (EA Tiburon, Xbox 360) - 1,000,000 2. Madden NFL 09 (EA Tiburon, PlayStation 3) - 643,000 3. Madden NFL 09 (EA Tiburon, PlayStation 2) - 424,500 4. Madden NFL 09 (EA Tiburon, Wii) - 115,800 That was the first month of release, but even the PS2 outsold it 4 to 1. I do agree though on the idea of a new game maybe every 3-4 years, with rosters as DLC. It's something I've been clamoring for on here for a while. It would save a lot of overhead on development, and be beneficial for the consumer. But when their sports games are one of their biggest cash cows, I don't see it happening.

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