EA's Riccitiello Still Sees PC Opportunities

Illustration for article titled EAs Riccitiello Still Sees PC Opportunities

On EA's financial call to investors, CEO John Riccitiello said the company's still bullish on opportunities in the PC gaming market—the publisher said it plans to ship 30 PC platform titles in fiscal 09, the same number it has scheduled for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 during the period.

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"Were it not for The Sims and the WoW box sales, it'd be a pretty dismal sector," said Riccitiello, responding to an investor who inquired about "soft" PC retail sales. "The fastest growing [sector] is subscription, microtransactions-based and casual games, many of which are pretty much centered on the PC. One of the things we try to look at at EA is the total business represented on PC game software, and we're seeing a growth in business there. It's been growing for several years... it's categorized wrongly by looking simply at the box side of the equation."

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DISCUSSION

The NPD Group has released new data showing that online subscriptions in the US gaming market exceed $1 billion annually.

ImageIn particular, NPD's new Online Subscription Tracker (announced in February) paints a clearer picture of the PC market, which has had much of its revenue move to online.

"Now that NPD can estimate the value of the subscription market, it's clear that there is a sizable chunk of revenue being generated by PC gaming beyond what is reflected in retail sales," said NPD analyst Anita Frazier.

PC retail sales declined slightly from just over $1 billion in the US in 2006 to $910.7 million in 2007. This did not include digital distribution and online subscription sales.

NPD said there are 11 million gaming subscribers monthly.

The billion-dollar figure includes three categories: MMO, casual and console revenues. The firm calculated the figures by taking the online revenue average of Q4 2007 ($94.3 million) and Q1 2008 ($80.1 million), in turn taking the average of those figures and multiplying by 12 months.

The research firm also ranked the top five MMO and gaming websites based on units in Q1 2008:

MMO/PC Game Subscribers

1.) World of Warcraft

2.) RuneScape

3.) Lord of the Rings Online

4.) Final Fantasy XI

5.) City of Heroes

Gaming Website Subscribers

1) Pogo.com

2) Realarcade.com

3) Bigfishgames.com

4) Gametap.com

5) [Disney.com]

Frazier described a demographically diverse PC gaming audience. "By contrasting the demographics of MMO players against those of gaming website players, the broad appeal of PC gaming is clearly evident," she said.

"While the majority of gaming website players are females over the age of 35, MMOG players are largely males under the age of 35. The variety of content available to play games on the PC clearly can draw a diverse audience."

NPD said that it may periodically release more online-related figures to the public, such as Xbox Live data. Complete details on NPD's findings are in the full report, Video Game and PC Game Subscriptions Report.

[www.next-gen.biz]