EA Financials: Nothing to See Here

In news that shouldn’t surprise many, EA’s quarterly results were slightly lower than last year.  Recall that this Q included:

  • Launch of BF5’s Battle Royale mode.  Which made waves due to its mediocrity.
  • Launch of Apex Legends.  Which broke all sorts of initial records, partly due to EA paying streamers to promote it.
    • There’s a content “drought” that makes for a moral quandary regarding development “crunch”.  Fornite is like friggin’ crack with it’s non-stop updates – a digital FOMO if ever I’ve seen one.
    • This doesn’t dismiss the quality of Apex Legends, simply re-enforces that groupthink is what makes these games popular.
  • Launch of Anthem.  Solid box sales.  A dumpster fire since then.
    • Related, the patch on Monday removed Elysian Caches (cosmetic rewards) but also removed some boss loot from Heart of Rage.  I truly feel bad for their community managers.

And to the surprise of no one, EA wants to port Apex Legends to mobile and get it in China.  Mobile, I get.  That’s a stupidly massive money pot.  PUBG and Fortnite are both making chunks of change there (and cross-platform I might add).

Breaking into China though… unless EA has pictures of someone in compromising positions, that’s not going to happen.  PUBG just got reskinned to have no blood and have people stand back up and wave when they are killed.  The draw of money though, that is a true test of morals.  Just look at Google.

Big Picture

The real question here after having seen EA and Acti-Blizz come to the table, is how are big publishers going to tackle the growing tide of developer resentment.  Rome fell because of internal problems, not because of some other power.  Epic, Rockstar, Bioware… all have made the rounds for internal drama. The “dream job” of working for a publisher doesn’t seem all that attractive anymore. Why deal with the demands of a big publisher when the entry fee to game development is so low?

We’re still going to have blockbusters like God of War, or Link/Zelda but looking at the gaming landscape… indies are rocking it fierce.  Dead Cells, Celeste, Obra Dinn, No Man’s Sky, Life is Strange, Florence, Into the Breach…all worthy of attention.

The big devs will have to do with mediocrity and internal resentment.  People who aren’t invested in a company eventually do just enough not to get fired.  As that population grows within a company, it gets harder and harder to fix.

No easy answers.  It would be foolish to assume that leadership has any idea that this is a problem (aside from the PR lip service).  That would require them to actually talk to their developers instead of their board of investors.

4 thoughts on “EA Financials: Nothing to See Here

    • I had a similar thought of No Man’s Sky which was published by Sony, but the studio itself was still very tiny even for that.

      @Asmiroth I do think the Rise of the Indie has been on the up and up for a while though. I think mostly what has changed lately is the increasing ire at the ‘big’ guys. Although I suppose there is ALWAYS something. 😉

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      • If I recall, EA was voted the worst company in america in 2012 and 2013. Ire has been there for a long time.

        Rise of the indies is due to multiple factors. Reduced cost of entry (SDKs are all but gone now), reduced promotion costs (online ads + streamers), better tooling (engines are well documented, heatmapping!), the snowball effect (if someone else did it, so can I), better education/training (coders in the 90s were not specialized in gaming outside of their basements), and general maturation of the industry (a 50yr old today has oodles of experience in game development).

        This is compounded by the sequel-itis of the big companies. Their lack of willingness to experiment has left a huge opening for others to take advantage.

        I mentioned the fall of Rome, which had multiple factors, but hubris was one of the largest. Too big to fail. Which opens up another interesting topic… but not on this blog.

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