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The force isn't with EA as it announces fourth quarter earnings

May 7, 2012 |  2:03 pm

Star Wars The Old Republic

A drop in the number of subscribers for Star Wars: The Old Republic triggered a 10% slide in shares of Electronic Arts Inc. Monday, overshadowing news of a better-than-expected fourth quarter for the Bay Area game publisher. 

EA, which in February said it had 1.7 million active subscribers to The Old Republic, on Monday reported that the figure fell to 1.3 million at the end of April. Though the term "active subscribers" doesn't translate exactly to paying subscribers, it is a good gauge for how many people have bought the title and are actively playing the online game.

The Old Republic, whose development and marketing budget tipped well over $150 million, is the most expensive title ever produced by EA, and is certainly among the costliest games of all time to make. EA had projected that the game would "approach break-even" on an operating basis at 1 million paying subscribers.

Shares in EA plummeted nearly 10%, or $1.49, to $13.64, immediately after the company released its fourth-quarter report. It had gained a penny to close at $15.13 prior to the announcement.

For its fourth fiscal quarter, EA posted $400 million in net income, or $1.20 a share, on $1.37 billion in revenue. A year earlier, it recorded $151 million in profit, or 45 cents a share, from $1.1 billion in sales.

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-- Alex Pham

Photo: Screen shot of Star Wars: The Old Republic. Credit: Bioware and Electronic Arts Inc.

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