EA Claims Publishing Crown

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Electronic Arts has declared itself the No. 1 independent videogame publisher in both the U.S. and Europe but also revealed it suffered nearly a half-billion dollar net loss for the past fiscal year.

The company said it held 20 percent of all European software sales over the past 12 months, and 19 percent of sales in North America over the same period, with 15 games in its stable that sold over two million copies, according to MCV. The company was also the top third-party publisher for the Wii in Europe, with 15 percent of the market, and captured 11 percent of the North American market.

EA also reported record-level revenues of $3.67 billion for the fiscal year, up significantly from the $3.09 billion it recorded over the previous fiscal. The figure included $1.13 billion in the final quarter alone, an 84 percent jump over the previous year’s $613 million mark. Despite these increases, however, EA reported a net loss of $454 million for the 12-month period ended March 31, compared to a profit of $76 million over the previous fiscal.

“A year ago, we committed to an aggressive change agenda at EA. Our employees stepped up to the challenge and we finished fiscal year 2008 with non-GAAP revenue up 30 percent to $4 billion – a record for any third-party publisher,” said EA CEO John Riccitiello. “Our operating margins were flat to our prior year. On balance, we’re very pleased with our revenue growth, but not yet happy with our profit margins. In fiscal 2009, we expect to deliver another $1 billion in revenue growth and to double our operating profit on the strength of our slate of titles.”

The loss was attributed largely to EA’s acquisition of BioWare and Pandemic, which ate a combined total of $620 million, as well as restructuring charges of $103 million, $138 million for “acquired in-process technology” and an increase in research and development costs of $104 million compared with the previous year.

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