Live games have once again pushed EA to beat internal expectations as standout performance from titles like Apex Legends, FIFA 21, Madden NFL, and The Sims 4 lead the company to a record year. EA reported $6.19 billion in net bookings for the year ending March 31, 2021, a whole $600 million above the company's full-year projections. Net income for the full year, meanwhile, came to $837 million.
EA CEO Andrew Wilson says the company's sizable (and ever-growing) catalog of live games and services is to thank for that record year, and those same games are expected to keep pushing the company forward in the year to come.
For context, EA reported $5.63 billion in net revenue for the year (essentially net bookings without considering the impact of deferred revenue). Of that $5.23 billion, $4 billion came from "live services and other" while only $1.6 billion came from full game sales.
"Our teams have done incredible work over the last year to deliver amazing experiences during a very challenging time for everyone around the world,” reads a statement from Wilson. “With tremendous engagement across our portfolio, we delivered a record year for Electronic Arts. We’re now accelerating in FY22, powered by expansion of our blockbuster franchises to more platforms and geographies, a deep pipeline of new content, and recent acquisitions that will be catalysts for further growth.”
On the topic of "tremendous engagement", EA boasts 42 million new players in its ecosystem during fiscal 21 thanks to games and modes like FIFA Ultimate Team with players up 16 percent year-over-year, Apex Legends with over 12 million weekly average players since the January launch of Season 8, and a sixth consecutive year of growth for The Sims 4, which now boasts nearly 36 million players.
Particularly, Apex Legends had a standout year with, in the words of EA COO and CFO Blake Jorgensen "its largest net bookings quarter on record," as well as "the best day, the best 24 hour period, the best week, the best month, and best in-game event" during Q4 FY21. Apex Legends' lifetime net bookings have now surpassed $1 billion, and it did so a good month or two ahead of EA's projections.
"Apex steadily grew through the last year, driven by the games team and the content they are delivering,” adds a statement from Jorgensen. “Looking forward, the momentum in our existing live services provides a solid foundation for FY22. Combined with a new Battlefield and our recent acquisitions, we expect net bookings growth in the high teens."
Specifically, EA hopes that its live game foundation and a new Battlefield will lead it to net bookings of around $7.3 billion and net income around $390 million for the full year ending March 31, 2022.