Electronic Arts Inc. (EA), Sony Corporation (ADR) (SNE): Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) Makes a Play with Xbox One FIFA Bundle

Roster depth
The move to make FIFA most visible on the One makes sense from more than an Eurocentric perspective. Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ:EA) and Microsoft have shown themselves to be cozy heading into what EA somewhat questionably refers to as “Gen 4.” Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ:EA) is set to publish Titanfall, a Xbox exclusive title from Respawn Entertainment in the first quarter of 2014, and has indicated it will give focus to Xbox One versions of multi-platform titles. Titanfall is being positioned as the defining release for the early stage of the system’s life. Its release might even coincide with the launch of a Kinect-less Xbox One if the initial SKUs are slow to sell.

Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ:EA) also reportedly dropped its Online Pass system in anticipation of Microsoft implementing its own anti-used game and DRM policies. Both companies have, at times, shown an aggressive over-eagerness to dominate the digital space and propel the speed at which games are broadly conceived as a service.

I expect Microsoft to announce partnerships with a number of top-tier studios and high profile developers in the coming months. These types of efforts have undoubtedly been ramped up in light of Xbox One’s initial stumblings. Microsoft is firmly invested in the industry and sees great revenue and potential from consoles as a delivery method for services like Xbox Live. That said, almost every decision it has made since revealing the One has been reactionary. The company is scrambling.

Too early to call the first round?
Microsoft is much more financially stable than Sony Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:SNE). That is, without doubt, its greatest advantage heading into the coming cycle. It has the resources to see its system through a normal life cycle by securing the right games and improving its value proposition. We are likely to see the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One reach price parity much sooner than initially anticipated. Microsoft will take blows to its ego and sizable pocketbook before it lets the Xbox One bomb.

On the other hand, the company is seriously behind and its actions make it difficult to argue otherwise. Early pre-sale data, online retailer rankings, and rumors that Microsoft’s system is experiencing eSRAM yield problemssuggest that Sony has already won the holiday season. Sony Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:SNE) will produce more systems and ship them to a greater number of countries, and has, thus far, done an impeccable job of positioning the PlayStation 4. Even with more FIFA-esque deals in the pipeline, I expect Xbox One sales to trail its rival throughout Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ:EA)’s Gen 4.

The article Microsoft Makes a Play with Xbox One FIFA Bundle originally appeared on Fool.com and is written by Keith Noonan.

Keith Noonan has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of Microsoft.

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