EA's full-year loss hits $677 million, FIFA 10 sells 10 million

Profits from near-billion-dollar Jan.-March quarter help publisher curtail shortfall; Madden 10, NFS: Shift top 4M units; Bad Company 2 hits 5M; Mass Effect 2 sells 1.6M.

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Less than one week after its archrival Activision Blizzard reported a January-March quarterly income of $381 million on revenues of $1.3 billion, Electronic Arts has delivered its annual and fourth-quarter earnings. Suffice it to say, the results weren't nearly as pretty.

Battlefield: Bad Company 2 mustered an army of 5 million.
Battlefield: Bad Company 2 mustered an army of 5 million.

For the full fiscal year, EA posted net revenues of $3.654 billion, well off the $4.212 billion it reported for the year prior. Blunting this decline, EA noted that it ended the year with $766 million in deferred income, or money related to certain online services that it will recognize over individual games' lifetimes. Having reported a $1.09 billion deficit last year, EA said today that losses for the just-ended fiscal period amounted to $677 million.

Considering the strength of EA's top-of-the-year lineup, it comes as no surprise that the publisher had a strong fiscal fourth quarter. During the January-March window, revenues hit $979 million, up 14 percent from the $860 million posted during the same period in 2009. EA also turned a $30 million profit during the quarter, reversing last year's loss of $42 million.

EA Dice's Battlefield: Bad Company 2 led the publisher's offerings during the quarter. To date, the top-rated modern-day shooter has sold some 5 million units on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC. Other top performers during the quarter included BioWare's highly regarded Mass Effect 2 and Visceral's less-than-stellar Dante's Inferno. During the year, Madden NFL 10, The Sims 3, Battlefield: Bad Company 2, and Need for Speed: Shift all sold in excess of 4 million units. FIFA Soccer 10 more than doubled that feat, selling over 10 million units since launching last October.

Though its release came outside the fiscal year, EA also trumpeted the fast start of 2010 FIFA World Cup: South Africa. The soccer sim--which scored high marks on the Xbox 360, PS3, PSP, and Wii last month--has already sold nearly 2 million units to date.

As it did last quarter, EA also laid out its release schedule for its in-progress fiscal year ending March 31, 2011. Notably the updated release lineup includes a few alterations. Previously slated for a first quarter release, EA now expects to launch Need for Speed World during the July-September quarter. EA also appears to have delayed its unspecified "Action Title TBA ('full game download' for consoles)" out of the fiscal year.

EA expects to pull in $710 million to $750 million during its April-June 2010 quarter, with earnings per share to come in between a $0.05 loss to a $0.05 gain. While those figures are in line with last quarter's projections, EA revised its full-year earnings expectations range, anticipating it now to fall between $3.35 billion and $3.60 billion. Loss per share is now expected to come in between $0.85 and $1.15.

During a call with analysts, EA CEO John Riccitiello, COO John Schappert, and CFO Eric Brown discussed highlights of the previous and coming years. These included:

--The executive team noted that Mass Effect 2 has sold through more than 1.6 million units through both retail and digital means in Europe and North America. In January, the publisher said BioWare's acclaimed sci-fi role-playing game had shipped 2 million units worldwide.

--Dante's Inferno has now sold nearly 1 million units, while Army of Two: The 40th Day has sold more than 1 million units.

--Somewhat mysteriously, Schappert said that EA will "show a marquee title in breathtaking 3D" at this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo.

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