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Electronic Arts: "We're On Our Way Back"

| 9 Mar 2011 17:00
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Electronic Arts is "on our way back," says EA Games President Frank Gibeau, and it's the casual, mobile and PC markets that are making it happen.

There was a time when Electronic Arts was the king of the world. Then it became the Evil Empire. These days, nobody seems to know what to make of it. It's kind of like the game industry version of Magneto: whether it's good or evil depends entirely upon what month it is and which alternative universe you happen to be trapped in. But Gibeau says the company has seen the error of its ways and mended them, and because of that, the future is looking awfully bright.

"I really feel good about where we are at EA these days," Gibeau told Gamasutra. "There's a lot of transition going on in this industry and we're really well positioned for that. We feel like we're on the offensive. We're moving from a fire-and-forget packaged goods model to an online services model."

EA has broadened its focus to include the casual and mobile gaming markets; the EA-owned Playfish is the second-largest developer of games on Facebook. Gibeau said the company discovered that expanding to different platforms not only broadens the market but also results in many customers purchasing titles multiple times across multiple platforms.

Yet it's the PC that is perhaps the biggest component of EA's plan for the future, although not necessarily in a conventional sense. "PC retail may be a big problem, but PC downloads are awesome. The margins are much better and we don't have any rules in terms of first party approvals. From our perspective, it's an extremely healthy platform," he explained. "It's totally conceivable it will become our biggest platform."

"We will get the stock price back. Our earnings are up," he continued. "We're on our way back... If we hadn't made the changes we did, if we had just kept iterating game after game, we would be irrelevant and in far worse shape than we are now."

There's still a long way to go, though. The company's digital earnings grew substantially and its non-GAAP net revenues met guidance targets, but it still ate a $322 million net loss for the quarter and is down $427 million on the year.

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