SBD/May 5, 2011/Finance

EA Sports Faces Uncertainty With Work Stoppages, Huge "FIFA" Sales Last Year

EA sold more than 12 million copies of "FIFA 11" during the '11 fiscal year

Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitello, discussing the company's fiscal fourth quarter and fiscal year late yesterday, said the EA Sports business faces significant uncertainty over the next year due to the ongoing NFL lockout, a looming NBA work stoppage, and the historic, World Cup-fueled success of the "FIFA 11" video game that present stiff sales comparisons for the next edition. "Year over year, these differences represent roughly a $250 million revenue challenge," Riccitello said. EA Sports sold more than 12 million units of "FIFA 11" during its fiscal year '11 while sales of "Madden NFL 11" surpassed 5 million. Additionally, the "FIFA" franchise generated more than $100M in digital revenue during the company fiscal year ended Mar. 31, and the game is a key bellwether for the company as it continues to push new products onto non-console platforms such as Facebook and mobile devices. The "FIFA" digital revenue represented roughly an eighth of the $833M in digital revenue earned across all of EA during the fiscal year. EA ended its Q4 with net income of $151M, up fivefold compared to $30M in net income for Q4 a year ago. The company ended the fiscal year with a net loss of $276M, down sharply from a loss of $677M for its fiscal '10. EA Sports is also developing four as-yet-unannounced new game franchises slated to be released between January and March '12, according to the annual report. One of them is likely to be "Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13." But rumors have run wildly as to the identity of the others, including industry chatter of new arcade-style iterations of its "FIFA" and NFL franchises, as well as possibly another digital MLB product to follow up its recently released "World Series Superstars" on Facebook.

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