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EA earns $1.2 billion from live service titles during record first quarter

FIFA, which will soon be rebranded as EA Sports FC, was the star of the show.

Live service franchises like FIFA helped publisher EA deliver record net bookings during the first quarter of the fiscal year.

As highlighted in the company's fiscal report for the quarter ended June 30, 2023, net bookings increased by 21 percent year-on-year to $1.6 billion.

A massive 75 percent of that total comprised net bookings generated by live service titles, with EA describing the business model as "highly resilient."

Overall live service net bookings increased by 4 percent year-on-year to $1.2 billion. FIFA led that charge, with EA noting the series just experienced the biggest Q1 in the franchise's long history.

"FIFA Ultimate Team engaged tens of millions of fans and daily average users grew 15 percent," said EA CEO Andrew Wilson during an earnings call. "FIFA Mobile attracted over 65 million new players in the quarter alone. FIFA Online produced double-digit growth across monthly, weekly and daily average users."

The Sims 4, which went free-to-play last year, also welcomed 4 million new players during the quarter. Apex Legends fell below expectations as a result of  "underperformance from Season 17," but EA said it will continue to invest in the series and backed Respawn to course correct.

"While this new season did not meet our financial expectations, the team has applied important learnings—including new game mechanics to engage and retain players, which are already generating momentum," said Wilson, discussing what's next for Apex.

EA expects Jedi: Survivor to deliver "long-term value" 

Looking beyond the live service horizon, full game net bookings increased by 143 percent year-on-year to $401 million, driven by the release of Star Was Jedi: Survivor. EA CFO Stuart Canfield described the sequel as a "critical success" and noted the title performed in line with company expectations.

"Based on the strength of the IP, the engaging gameplay, and new ways to bring the title to players, Star Wars Jedi: Survivor will continue to deliver long-term value," added Canfield.

EA added that it's seeing Jedi: Survivor players spend more time in-game when compared with its predecessor.

Moving forward, EA believes the upcoming launch of EA Sports FC, which will replace FIFA as the publisher's premium soccer sim, will be the first step towards realizing a "multi-experience global platform capable of connecting over a billion fans."

Canfield is anticipating a "strong launch" for the rebranded series. He also suggested Respawn's more "measured" approach to Apex Legends will soon begin to pay off. Based on those assumptions, the company expects second quarter net bookings ranging between $1.7 billion to $1.8 billion.

As for the full year, EA reaffirmed its previous net bookings guidance range of $7.3 billion to $7.7 billon. "To conclude, our strong first quarter is a testament to our incredible brands, our evergreen live services, and our ability to deliver compelling entertainment to hundreds of millions of players around the world," said Canfield.

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