Electronic Arts just had the biggest year in its history. On Tuesday, the Redwood City, California-headquartered gaming giant announced that the 2020–21 fiscal year delivered record revenues and sales, driven by the likes of Apex Legends and FIFA 21. EA grossed $5.63 billion (roughly Rs. 41,361 crores) in net revenue this past financial year, while “net bookings” — that includes products and services, sold digitally or physically — went up to $6.19 billion (roughly Rs. 45,475 crores). Of the latter, $4.6 billion (roughly Rs. 33,794 crores) came from “live services,” that refers to in-game microtransactions and subscription revenue generated from EA Play.
“To give some perspective, that $4.6 billion is equivalent to the sale of around 130 million copies of console games,” Blake Jorgensen, EA’s chief financial officer and chief operating officer, said [PDF] on the earnings call on Tuesday. Jorgensen highlighted the free-to-play shooter Apex Legends, that had [PDF] “the best day, the best 24-hour period, the best week, the best month and best in-game event” of an EA titles in 2020–21. Apex Legends brought in $600 million (roughly Rs. 4,407 crores) for EA, passing $1 billion (roughly Rs. 7,346 crores) in net bookings to date during this past quarter. The game is set to expand further in 2021–22 with the launch of Apex Legends Mobile.
As for FIFA 21, Ultimate Team — the self-proclaimed cornerstone — had a terrific year with matches up 180 percent year-on-year, with the number of players growing 16 percent to over 20 million. FIFA is much bigger as a franchise — there’s also FIFA Mobile, and FIFA Online 4 available in select markets — and it now draws more than 100 million players worldwide, Jorgensen added. FIFA 21 has over 25 million players on PC and console. The Sims 4, released in 2014 though supported with updates ever since, has grown to almost 36 million players. In total, EA titles welcomed 42 million new players during 2020–21.
Looking ahead, apart from Apex Legends Mobile, EA has Mass Effect Legendary Edition due later this week. Then the following week on May 21, there’s the EA originals title Knockout City coming straight to EA Play and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. F1 2021 — from Codemasters, now owned by EA — will follow on July 16. FIFA 22 and Madden NFL 22 will follow in Q2 2022 (between July and September). Battlefield 6 and NHL 22 are slated to release in Q3 2022 (between October and December). And that leaves a new PGA Tour golf title, expected in Q4 2022 (between January and March 2022).
Most of these titles will be showcased at the 2021 EA Play Live, now slated for July 22, a month after E3 2021 in June. Driven by these new titles and annual releases — in addition to the behemoth that is Apex Legends now — EA says it expects net bookings to further rise to $7.3 billion (roughly Rs. 53,607 crores) in fiscal year 2021–22, 18 percent over the historic record it just set.
Why did LG give up on its smartphone business? We discussed this on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Later (starting at 22:00), we talk about the new co-op RPG shooter Outriders. Orbital is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and wherever you get your podcasts.