New consoles a boon for EA?
VIDEO-GAME publisher Electronic Arts (EA) is banking on a boost from Sony and Microsoft's new consoles to bring the digital- and physical-media sides of its portfolio into balance.
Like other makers of traditional boxed video games, EA has struggled to keep up with a massive switch to online and mobile gaming. The segment is expected to grow to US$14.4 billion (S$18.4 billion) in 2017, from US$8.8 billion last year.
"We actually see growth this year in our plan for physical boxed games...The concept that physical media is dead is completely erroneous at this point," EA's chief operating officer, Mr Peter Moore, told Reuters before the start of the five-day Gamescom, Europe's biggest gaming fair, which began yesterday.
"It is actually going to grow a little bit, certainly in our world."
Sony will start selling the PlayStation 4, priced at US$399, in North America on Nov 15, in Europe on Nov 29 and in 32 countries during the Christmas holiday season.
Microsoft has not specified a release date for its US$499 Xbox One, but it is likely to go on sale in all of its announced territories on Nov 22.
The arrival of the consoles comes not a moment too soon for the video-game industry, as it tries to arrest the decline in revenues in recent years.
Industry tracker NPD said that sales of video-game hardware and software have fallen every month, on a year-on-year basis, since January last year.
Research from consultancy PricewaterhouseCoopers said the global market for video games will recover to US$86.9 billion in 2017, up from US$63.4 billion last year, with consumer spending on console games increasing to US$31.2 billion in 2017 from US$24.9 billion last year.
Mobile games, online offerings and new digital-sale streams accounted for more than 76 per cent of revenue at EA in the first quarter of this year, but the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 consoles should provide more balance.
"We are almost at a 50-50 split between digital and physical media," Mr Moore said.
EA has a big line-up of games, including shooter Battlefield 4 and new science-fiction game Titanfall for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4.