EA financials show growing PC game revenue

It’s no secret that the PC industry is in dire straits these days. Quarter after quarter, shipments of PCs either stay flat or go down. Even Apple, which has traditionally outgrown the rest of the industry, is seeing Mac shipments decline. Some analysts now believe that PC shipments may have reached their all-time peak two years ago.

One might think this slump extends to everything PC-related, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Earlier this week, EA posted earnings for the first quarter of its 2014 fiscal year. (The quarter ended on June 30.) EA’s numbers include a breakdown of revenue per gaming platform, and they show that the company’s net revenue from PC gaming actually rose by 8% compared to the same quarter last year. Not only that, but at $298 million, EA’s PC revenue was higher than its Xbox 360 revenue ($256 million) or its PlayStation 3 revenue ($238 million).

Intrigued, I scoured EA’s investor relations hub for numbers from previous quarters. Then, because my love for Excel knows no bounds, I entered the data into a big spreadsheet and whipped up this handsome graph:

The graph should be self-explanatory; it shows EA’s net quarterly revenue over the past five years for each major gaming platform. As you can see, console numbers are subject to kind of a see-saw pattern, and PC figures have their ups and downs, too. Still, it’s clear that EA’s PC gaming business is growing. Also, especially over the past couple of years, EA’s PC revenue looks very respectable compared to what the company makes from the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

We can smooth out the see-saw pattern by looking at yearly revenue. Doing so eliminates data from EA’s latest fiscal quarter, but it still shows us an encouraging trend for the PC. Additionally, it reveals that EA’s mobile gaming business isn’t as big as one would think—nor is it growing as much as one would expect. (For the record, the "total mobile and handheld" numbers combine game revenue data for phones, tablets, and portable consoles like the PlayStation Vita and Nintendo DS.)

Now, there is a lot these numbers don’t tell us. We don’t know how much of EA’s PC gaming revenue comes from triple-A titles like the latest Crysis, for example, or how much casual and web-based titles contribute to the total. That means we can’t get a clear read on the health of the market for hardcore PC games.

However, the numbers make one thing clear: people are still spending plenty of money—and time—on PC games, even if overall PC sales are down. I suppose that should come as no great shock. Hardware requirements for PC games have remained largely stagnant for a long time. As a result, even today’s hottest triple-A games can be enjoyed on older hardware, and free-to-play titles and MMORPGs run on positively ancient machines. That will no doubt change once next-gen games start to arrive later this year. For now, though, I expect there are many PC gamers perfectly happy to spend their hard-earned cash on games rather than new gear.

Comments closed
    • SylviaHouston7
    • 6 years ago
    • CathyRolphe5
    • 6 years ago
    • WaltC
    • 6 years ago

    Considering that the xBone and the PS4 are [i<]x86 PCs according to AMD[/i<], it's laughable to hear people talk about the so-called demise of PC gaming (Gabe Newell of Valve often brags that "Steam is bigger than the economy of many countries in the world today," etc.) The one thing these $400-$500 consoles will do is to highlight the PC architecture and illustrate much more clearly how much more sense it makes to buy a PC. With the alien PPC and Cell cpu architectures of the last consoles, that was a bit more difficult for mainstream people to grasp. I predict lots of publicity after the newer consoles ship that will begin to highlight the PC nature of the consoles in a very positive light. The PC is by far the intelligent man's buy over either new console, imo. Talking about Steam, I just read today that Torchlight2--a PC exclusive--just sold through 2M copies of the game in its first year. Not only can a customer upgrade the specs of his PC at will (which the consoles of course don't allow you to do at all), but there are often many games available for the PC that are not available for any console--Torchlight2--selling at $19.99 from day one--is merely a single example. While the fact that console exclusives exist, too, is often alluded to, far too few people know that the same thing is true for the PC, too. (Except the people who've been PC gaming for the past quarter century, like me.) And talking about backwards compatibility with existing game software libraries--nowhere is that done better than on a Windows PC. I have many games installed that are 20+ years old and they run marvelously well and are still lots of fun to play. The new consoles are going to force console buyers to abandon their game libraries (except to continue to play them on their old consoles as long as they last), and as the new consoles are x86 PCs anyway--why not buy a "real" PC instead--one that you can upgrade and service yourself at will? There are many, many more pro-PC arguments to be made for PCs over consoles today. I anticipate that as the general console-buying public slowly becomes more savvy about these things, they'll overwhelmingly choose to go for PCs in the future. Speaking of games--one word that stands out for me is "mods." I'm certain that a console owner who bought Skyrim cannot appreciate just how much better the game is in every aspect on a PC. These kinds of things are going to get more attention from now on--and I appreciate the fact that both Sony and Microsoft had the good sense to choose AMD x86 PCs as their model for their consoles. It was by far the best choice they could have made. One last comment on the article here: I saw some numbers from EA in which the PC platform grossed more than either the 360 or the PS3 this quarter, when each platform is considered separately--therefore, EA would be absolutely idiotic to ever drop support for the PC, especially when the new consoles are going to make Windows-PC ports a snap. Indeed, traditional console developers who have stayed out of the x86 PC markets can now get in this market, too--and I can't see how any of this might ever spell "the end" for PC gaming. I mean--do people *really* not understand that both the new consoles are modeled on AMD x86 PC and GPU designs? Well, if so, that confusion won't last for long. And gee--I've been hearing for 20+ years that consoles have doomed PC gaming, and yet PC gaming still keeps growing by leaps and bounds every year, anyway...;) I think it is entirely safe to ignore all such talk these days.

      • Lazier_Said
      • 6 years ago

      The original Xbox was exactly a PC under the hood. So what?

      Architecture doesn’t make it a console. Dumbed down games for clumsy thumbsticks make it a console.

      Porting console games back to PC because it’s the same hardware doesn’t turn them into PC games.

    • Krogoth
    • 6 years ago

    This is just a temporary fluke at best. PC gaming isn’t making the miraculous comeback as the die-hard fans would like to believe. It will continue to play second-fiddle to the gaming consoles in the mainstream market. PC gaming will remain to be another niche that yield a handsome revenue but pales in comparison what is found in gaming consoles. The golden age of late 1980-early 2000 isn’t coming back.

    The real reason for decline in the revenue for year income 360/PS3 is that its market is near saturation and its die-hard users waiting for PS4/Xbox One to come around. Notice the drop happens around already the time that MS and Sony started to drop hints of releasing their next consoles in Q4 2013? Not a coincidence. The see-saw effect for quarterly 360/PS3 revenues is simple to explain. It is tied to holidays and summer sales, because a sizable demographic for the gaming consoles are kiddies. Their income is tied to their parents and low-income jobs, so I they tend not to have disposable income.

    I do expect the same story that has been happening since 2003 to continue once PS4/Xbox come into the game.

      • DPete27
      • 6 years ago

      Exactly right!! I had these same thoughts my head, but you saved me the time of having to type it out. +1 instead.

      • MadManOriginal
      • 6 years ago

      It’s not so much that PC gaming will become high growth again, it’s that console gaming has leveled off so they are both now moderate growth markets.

      • cynan
      • 6 years ago

      The see saw effect (spikes) is tied to the winter holiday season alone, not summer sales. Yes, the decline in the very last yearly spike for console sales (vs the previous year) is likely due to anticipation for the new consoles.

      However, what is most encouraging for PC game sales from the above, is that even in Q4FY12/Q1FY13 on the first graph, when console sales were as high as ever, so were PC game sales – up substantially from the previous year (more so than for console games, which was more or less repeating the same pattern).

      (BTW, doesn’t the fiscal year begin on Oct 1?, making the 3rd quarter end on June 30th? Or are we going by UK’s fiscal calendar?)

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 6 years ago

    EA as a company is clearly not evil. That being said I have not enjoyed them as a publisher in some time. Their board has been rather horrible and they stopped ricitello from keeping them on their A game.

    By all accounts from people who delt with him through partner programs he was a genuine guy, can’t help you work for a company with board members who care about money today not feasibility tomorrow.

    I do hope they make more great games in the days to come and find their way back to the light.

    • l33t-g4m3r
    • 6 years ago

    I think EA would do a lot better if they didn’t sell all their games exclusively through Origin.

    Quite frankly, it’s amazing they’re getting any PC sales at all, considering the constant controversy with their drm. I’d like to know who the hell is still buying their games, because I’m sure not.

      • Silus
      • 6 years ago

      You have a severe ego-complex, because you think how can anyone possibly use something, if you don’t ?

      The reality however, is that Origin is a good digital download service and many people use it and will continue to use.
      Of course that someone like yourself sees a problem in EA selling their games only through Origin, but have no problems in Valve selling their games only on Steam. But then again, the double standards were always a strong suit among fanboys, in this case Valve’s.

        • Spunjji
        • 6 years ago

        There were no other digital distribution services around when Valve started selling their games on Steam. Steam has since become the dominant player in the marketplace because its DRM requirements are, 99% of the time, utterly transparent to their users.

        EA then pulled their products from Steam in order to promote their own manifestly and demonstrably inferior service. You can call it a good service all you want, to me it’s just another damn program that I occasionally have to launch before I can play my games and it does nothing that Steam didn’t do before.

        What about that seems like a consumer-friendly decision by EA?

          • odizzido
          • 6 years ago

          I don’t blame them at all for them pulling games off steam. Gabe takes a huge cut out of steam sales.

          • travbrad
          • 6 years ago

          Yep Steam being the first big digital distribution service has a lot to do with it. So many people were already using Steam and that’s where all of their friends were. Most people still only use Origin when they want to play an EA game, whereas a lot of people leave Steam running all day. Steam feels much more like a community whereas Origin still feels like a store, largely just because Steam has so many more features and users.

          I have to say the DRM on Origin really isn’t any worse than Steam though. I don’t see Valve putting their games on Origin either.

            • l33t-g4m3r
            • 6 years ago

            Origin [url=http://www.cinemablend.com/games/EA-Says-Origin-Isn-t-Spyware-Although-It-Does-Scan-Your-Entire-PC-36690.html<]spies[/url<] on your computer, and has a [url=http://www.technolawguy.com/2011/08/ea-if-you-dont-like-our-privacy-policy.html<]draconian[/url<] EULA. [quote<]You agree that EA may collect, use, store and transmit technical and related information that identifies your computer (including the Internet Protocol Address), operating system, Application usage (including but not limited to successful installation and/or removal), software, software usage and peripheral hardware, that may be gathered periodically to facilitate the provision of software updates, dynamically served content, product support and other services to you, including online services. EA may also use this information combined with personal information for marketing purposes and to improve our products and services. We may also share that data with our third party service providers in a form that does not personally identify you. IF YOU DO NOT WANT EA TO COLLECT, USE, STORE, TRANSMIT OR DISPLAY THE DATA DESCRIBED IN THIS SECTION, PLEASE DO NOT INSTALL OR USE THE APPLICATION. [/quote<] The only way I'd install Origin is inside a virtual pc, which is too much damn trouble for me to bother using it.

          • deathBOB
          • 6 years ago

          Seems rather consumer-unfriendly to let a single company dominate the digital games market to me.

            • l33t-g4m3r
            • 6 years ago

            I’ve bought games from other distributors, GOG, DotEmu, Desura, Impulse, Direct2Drive.

            The only problem is that several of these have been bought out, and no longer function like they used to. Impulse is now Gamestop, which spams my email constantly, and always wants to ACTIVATE/TIE my PC to my account, which I don’t care to do. No longer use.

            Direct2Drive was half-decent, and they listed drm and also sold drm-free, but now they’re gamefly. Everything D2D is gone, and I don’t care to mess with gamefly.

            Desura just got bought out, but I don’t know if it’s going to go down the tubes just yet. Too early to tell.

            GOG, Steam, and Amazon are the only quality distributors I trust for long-term use, and Steam is the best overall for new games.

            The only problem I have with Origin is that their service is spyware, and they’re constantly selling games with always online drm checks. Nothing to do with being a steam fanboy, I just hate over the top drm.

          • Silus
          • 6 years ago

          So, in your view, because there was no other digital service before, that means Valve cannot distribute their games in other platforms forever ? How about you ask what exactly in that decision by Valve is consumer friendly ? Or is being attached solely to Steam i.e. a monopoly for Valve, something better ? Anyone supporting a monopoly, should really start thinking just a little bit about that…

          And I call it a good service, because it does what it’s supposed to. I want a game, I open it, add it to the cart, pay for it and download it.
          Never had a problem with that thus far (emphasis on thus far).
          Now on Steam, it’s not rare, in fact it happened in this summer sale, that I’m unable to buy anything for several days. Across many european countries, in the last 3-4 days of the summer sale, Steam was giving an error for everyone that tried to buy anything. People flooed the support forums and sent numerous tickets requesting support that were greeted with nothingness for those 3-4 days and then the summer sale ended. I myself tried two separate methods of payment, with the same result. And other people in the forums claimed to have used even more methods, with the same result as well. And by the way, why do I need to have a separate support steam account for support issues ? Who’s the idiot at Valve that thought THAT was a good idea ?

          It’s not the first time and I’m pretty sure it won’t be the last that this happens. Steam support is crappy to non-existent and Steam itself is not better than Origin in any of the functions I just described. In fact, it’s worse. I can attribute that to a higher amount of people using Steam than Origin, but I cannot in any way excuse their absolutely outrageous bad support, especially because what’s at stake is the core service that they should be providing, but aren’t.

    • Pax-UX
    • 6 years ago

    PC is actually now in prime position to make a big come back. With both next-gen’s x86 and not overly powerful, by PC standards, cross-platform development will be simplified. We now have better PC distribution systems; the “cost” of adding a PC port won’t be as high. Just the believed pc pirate problem. Intel is sorting out the low end graphics problem another generation or two and it will catch.

    I even wonder if MS will create a Vbox1, Virtual Box 1 to run on a PC. Wouldn’t go as far to say PC gaming is a conflict of interest to Xbox1, but this time round Windows 8 / Xbox1 the lines are getting blurred.

      • MrJP
      • 6 years ago

      Agreed with all of your first paragraph, but there’s no way MS would create a virtual Xbox for PC. Even if they did, I’m not sure I see the attraction when 90+% of the Xbox games will be available on PC anyway with better graphics, more features, and lower cost.

    • Meadows
    • 6 years ago

    Is it ironic that with all the PC doom-and-gloom, PC revenue is what’s been propping up EA the last quarter? (And it’s not low in any of the previous quarters either, which is even more conspicuous.)

    The consoles do have the seasonal spikes, but none of them are maintained. No devotion, just shopping sprees. You can’t count on a customer base like that – what’s the guarantee they will still buy from you during the next such season?

      • travbrad
      • 6 years ago

      A lot of those spikes are just because that’s when most of the big games are released. If they spread out their game releases a bit more the spikes would be less dramatic I think. There would still be more sales around the “holiday” season though, especially on consoles where the average age of gamers is much lower (and their parents buy them presents). Console versions don’t drop in price as quickly as PC versions either so there is less reason to wait.

      I have always wondered why they don’t spread out their game releases a bit more though. If you release all of your games at the same time a lot of them are bound to get overlooked. I assume they’ve done more market research than me though.

    • south side sammy
    • 6 years ago

    Let’s see. They close production facilities and lay off/fire thousands of people around the world then all of a sudden they turn a profit?????

      • Klimax
      • 6 years ago

      If you close studios, which are not profitable then you can fix holes and get profit… see attempt by AMD.

      • Farting Bob
      • 6 years ago

      Yes, that’s the idea behind reducing your overhead. This is how business has been run for hundreds of years. Even a company that is overall in profit still has to look at individual areas to see if they are dragging things down.

      • swiffer
      • 6 years ago

      For a maybe quarter or two, yes. Afterwards, they’re going to struggle to produce the same amount of product or *snirk* quality of service with a smaller, more stressed, workforce.

    • Star Brood
    • 6 years ago

    The sales volume of 650/7750 graphics cards and above probably increased the same amount during that time.

    • yammerpickle2
    • 6 years ago

    Just imagine what PC games sales and revenue would have been if most of the games where not poorly executed console ports.

      • tanker27
      • 6 years ago

      Or console exclusives.

      • travbrad
      • 6 years ago

      If we were to believe some companies claims of 90% piracy and lost sales EA would be making $9 billion a year off PC games alone!

        • clone
        • 6 years ago

        90% of ppl choosing to play a game for free says nothing about how many would be willing to pay for it.

          • travbrad
          • 6 years ago

          Yep that was sort of my point. Those “lost sales” claims have always been silly.

      • Corion
      • 6 years ago

      Us: “Woo, PC games!”
      Them: “Hahah, we can just sell them terrible ports.”
      Us: “Let’s boycott the terribly executed console ports!”
      Them: “Clearly PC sales have gone down and there’s just no market for anything.”
      Us: “Wait, that’s not what we wanted …” 🙁

    • windwalker
    • 6 years ago

    The first graph has too much variance because of seasonality while the second has too few samples.
    Try a moving average or quarterly samples with the trailing four quarters as values to remove seasonality.

      • chuckula
      • 6 years ago

      Needs at least… three more sigmas!

      • peartart
      • 6 years ago

      The difference between quarterly data as a moving average and yearly data is pretty marginal in a case like this.

      • Klimax
      • 6 years ago

      Simple linear regression would do likely the trick.

    • internetsandman
    • 6 years ago

    NO NO NO
    This is just wrong!
    EA shouldn’t be gaining revenue, they should be losing it, what with their reputation amongst gamers in recent months

      • USAFTW
      • 6 years ago

      That just goes to show how many cows there are out there who will flesh out the bucks regardless of what company they’re supporting.

        • Farting Bob
        • 6 years ago

        I flesh out the bucks based on the products. I don’t care who made them really. If the game is great in it’s own right i will buy it. If not i won’t buy it (or will wait until it’s dirt cheap). This is how the vast majority of customers decide. The 0.5% of people who are vocal about boycotting EA on the internet don’t really effect sales that much.

          • Silus
          • 6 years ago

          Precisely. Plus the vast majority of people that is vocal about anything, usually doesn’t know much or has never even tried the thing they complain about. They just whine based on something they heard or read. And since that thing they heard or read goes against their favorite whatever, then they are in favor of that something they heard or read.

          It’s like the Mojave project by Microsoft, when they tried to clear Vista’s image and showed a “new” operating system called Mojave to everyday people that badmouthed Vista. A vast majority liked what they saw and used and then gasped when it was revealed to be Vista…according to reports, many of these people that now liked Vista, have never really tried it before. They just heard it was bad, so in their minds, it’s bad too…

    • odizzido
    • 6 years ago

    All the doom and gloom with PC gaming I hear and finally some numbers come out and PC gaming for even a company like EA seems perfectly fine.

      • Damage
      • 6 years ago

      Check out the current numbers and projected revenues for PC gaming hardware + software vs. mobile and consoles here:

      [url<]https://techreport.com/review/24592/amd-touts-unified-gaming-strategy[/url<] Runs so very counter to the narrative.

        • peartart
        • 6 years ago

        It’s hard to get big revenue numbers with <$5 products. However, the margins of some mobile games can turn a certain variety of person on.

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