Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ:EA) has been favored by the market this year. The stock is up 50% year-to-date. Its peers, Activision Blizzard, Inc. (NASDAQ:ATVI) and Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. (NASDAQ:TTWO), have enjoyed gains of 39% and 40%, respectively. The industry has gained momentum, but would this momentum continue as we head into the second part of the year?
Games are played on three main types of devices – consoles, PCs, and mobile devices. Mobile games are the fastest growing part of the market because of the shift to mobile around the world. In this environment, Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ:EA) states that it is focused on bringing as many titles as possible across all devices so that players can interact with its products from various platforms.
The company recently reiterated its fiscal year 2014 revenue guidance of $4 billion. Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ:EA) is going to narrow its focus and concentrate on the best-performing franchises, while carefully selecting new titles. The company is famous for its sports simulators, including Madden NFL, FIFA, FIFA Manager, NBA Live, and NHL. The jewels in the product crown are Battlefield and the Sims series. What does concentration on franchises mean from the financial point of view? It means that the results would be more predictable. It also means there is less opportunity for explosive growth created by a previously unknown title.
Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ:EA) states that it is moving to games-as-a-service as its business model. It means that every game issued would have a service component in it. It expects this model to defer some revenue at the beginning. However, the company cares more about the game’s lifetime revenue than up-front sales. During the latest analyst call, it hinted that FIFA 14 will be free-to-play on mobile, in line with this strategy.
The competitors also heavily rely on franchises. Activision Blizzard, Inc. (NASDAQ:ATVI) publishes World of Warcraft, the massively multiplayer online game that has conquered the hearts of millions of gamers. Lately, the number of active subscribers for this game has been falling. During the first quarter, subscribers declined by approximately 1.3 million, which accounted for 14% of total subscribers. The company believes that a further declined would occur, and that it will end the year with fewer subscribers than it has today.
Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. (NASDAQ:TTWO) relies on the success of series like Bordelands, Grand Theft Auto, and BioShock. The strategy of the company is common to the entertainment industry: take everything you can from your franchises while accurately trying something new. The company is projected to overcome recent loses and to finish the year with profit.
Autumn is always a hot time for the industry, but this year, it would be even more special than ever because new generation consoles would hit the market. At first, the impact would not be seen on the income statements. It takes time for gamers to perform the transition. After initial months, the impact would start to grow, so the success of the newest games would be crucial.