The digital marketplace has spoken. Electronics Art revealed this week that it made serious green last year in selling downloadable content – $1.3 billion (about £915 million, AU$1.7 billion), to be exact.
"We've been the leader in driving digital content for games," said EA Chief Financial Officer Blake Jorgensen during a Morgan Stanley investors conference. "Almost a little more than 50% of our business is delivered digitally, and that's been growing dramatically over time."
Jorgensen pointed out that, of the $1.3 billion EA made in selling DLC, about half of it was just in Ultimate Team sales. In short, it's a fantasy-style draft system that allows players to buy and sell athletes in the company's FIFA, Madden, and NHL games.
When it comes to Ultimate Team's success, Jorgensen believes it to be a matter of "classic human nature."
"People like to collect. They like to trade things," he said. "They like to build great teams to compete, and they will typically pay money to beat their friends."
The other half of EA's DLC business is comprised of map packs, cosmetics, preorder incentives and other add-ons often bundled into "season passes," but that only makes up a portion of the company's digital business.
Approximately $300 to $400 million were also raked in by EA last year for subscription services, like Xbox One's EA Access. But wait, there's more: an estimated $650 million was made in mobile sales – Jorgensen credits those to recognizable franchises, like The Sims, that stand out in the App Store and elsewhere.
The numbers are impressive but not too surprising, with non-EA games, like Hitman and Street Fighter V, relying heavily on digital content. Games like Fallout 4 and EA's own Star Wars: Battlefront offer season passes that cost nearly as much as the original game.
Since discs still make up a large portion of game sales, Jorgensen explains that EA still plans on working extensively with retailers. But don't be surprised if the past financial year's results entice the company to embrace digital more than ever, much less the gaming world at large.
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