EA turns in bummer fiscal report: “We’re disappointed in our underperformance”

EA’s latest quarterly fiscal report included a stark admission: ‘s sales fell way below expectations. This, combined with a severe drop in mobile-gaming revenue, led EA’s executives to admit that they were “disappointed in our underperfomance” in fiscal Q3 2019.

‘s sales to date, according to EA COO and CFO Blake Jorgensen, have reached 7.3 million copies across all platforms worldwide, which the company says is “one million less” than it had indicated in previous Q3 2019 guidance.

Jorgensen didn’t mince words: he blamed the drop in the series’ uptake by the developers’ focus on a single-player campaign, as opposed to having a promised battle royale mode ready for fans in time for the game’s launch.

EA CEO Andrew Wilson took the opportunity to confirm that ‘s battle royale mode, currently dubbed Firestorm, will launch in March of this year. Wilson did not offer further details about any monetization strategy for that mode; it currently requires that consumers buy the game’s retail edition, much like the battle royale mode found in Activision’s multiplayer-only game . (That Activision game includes additional microtransactions in its battle royale mode.)

The executives repeatedly blamed “intense competition” in that quarter for general underperformance, which Wilson clarified later as “, , and . (‘s hugely popular battle royale mode launched well before the October 2018 start of the fiscal quarter in question.) Wilson added that ‘s release delay into November 2018 resulted in a “better game,” but he cited “the combination of a poor start in our marketing campaign with a longer development cycle that put us in a more competitive window.”

In addition to a lack of uptake on new mobile game , EA also cited one delayed mobile game and “changes to broaden ‘s appeal” that “failed” to drive monetization. The company’s net bookings for mobile-only products dropped in Q3 2019 to $142 million, compared to $183 million in the same quarter in fiscal year 2018—a drop of over 23 percent.

The executives reminded investors that the EA Sports line of games and Ultimate Team microtransaction systems continue to drive revenue. ” stands out as a robust franchise during a tumultuous time in the industry,” Wilson said. Executives also praised new game ‘ solid performance after launching 24 hours earlier, though Wilson made clear that its one-day metrics weren’t a measure on which to base expectations just yet.

When pressed about EA’s sales expectations for in the wake of a wonky public demo, Jorgensen said that EA still expects its first-quarter sales to reach roughly 5-6 million units. “We’re comfortable with that based on what we’re seeing in the outcome of both demos,” Jorgensen added. “A lot of excitement, a lot of interest.”

EA confirmed that a range of console-specific games is expected to launch by year’s end, including a new “shooter,” a new game in the Need for Speed series, and the Respawn-developed Star Wars game . An additional Titanfall-related game is also slated to launch by year’s end, but Wilson would not offer any further details about what shape that game might take (meaning: a remake of an existing Titanfall game isn’t yet out of the question).

Wilson further clarified that Respawn has “two fully staffed teams, one focused on the shooter genre, and one focused on action-adventure.” He also dodged questions about any new Battlefield-series games launching in 2019.

Wilson told investors to expect “deliberate changes to our organization and operational focus.”

EA is listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange, which means the investor call began as soon as markets closed on Tuesday. After-hours trading suggests a severe drop in stock price from the day’s close of $92.52 to somewhere below $76—already lower than the company’s previous major low in late 2016.

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