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Digital Drives 68.7% of EA's Q3 Net Revenue; Zuckerberg Still Committed to AR and VR as 'the Holy Grail of Social'

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TheGamingEconomy’s Daily Digest brings you the prevalent business stories in gaming. In today’s news: Digital drives 68.7% of EA’s Q3 net revenue; Zuckerberg still committed to AR and VR as ‘the holy grail of social experiences’; and Global Game Jam 2020 begins.

Digital drives 68.7% of EA’s Q3 net revenue

EA’s digital net revenue totalled USD$1.12bn (£854.7m) in the last full financial quarter, demonstrating the significance of the company’s considerable portfolio of live games to its commercial health.

That figure accounts for 68.7% of EA’s total net revenue for the three month period ending December 31, 2019, as confirmed by the developer-publisher’s recent financial report. Net revenue from packaged goods and other income, meanwhile, came to USD$469m. (£357.9m)

Looking back over the trailing 12 month period ending with the last day of 2019, meanwhile, digital net bookings hit USD$4.12bn (£3.14bn), making up 77% of the total USD$5.38bn (£4.1bn) in net bookings for the period. That USD$4.12bn (£3.14bn) also marked 15% year-on-year growth for EA’s digital net bookings.

“Over the last twelve months, we have delivered record live services revenue, live services net bookings and operating cash flow,” said EA’s COO and CFO Blake Jorgensen. “Our broad-based business model reduces our dependence on individual titles and enables us to deliver financial results for our shareholders by providing a constant stream of high-quality entertainment for our players. We expect live services to continue to drive growth in fiscal 2021 and for growth to accelerate in fiscal 2022, led by a new Battlefield.”

The financials – available in full here – also revealed that EA’s net cash from operating activities totalled USD$1.1bn (£839.6m) for the quarter. The gaming giant also repurchased 3.1 million shares for USD$305m (£232.8m) during the three-month period, bringing the total for the full previous twelve months to 12.8 million shares at USD$1.21bn (923.5m).

Zuckerberg still committed to AR and VR as ‘the holy grail of social experiences’

Oculus Quest SQFacebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has asserted the company’s confidence in the VR and AR opportunity, while revealing that USD$5m (£3.8m) worth of Oculus content was sold on Christmas day last year.

The figure came about during a Facebook financials call, as transcribed by Seeking Alpha, which reveals VR in particular is presently exceeding Facebook’s expectations.

“While full augmented reality is still a number of years away, we hit a real milestone for virtual reality with Quest,” Zuckerberg told those on the call. “Sales are stronger than we expected, and people are buying and engaging with more content than we’d expected to. On Christmas Day, people bought almost USD$5m (£3.8m) worth of content in the Oculus store. And that’s an outlier day, but still, this is real volume by any measure. And it shows the progress that this ecosystem is making.”

Facebook purchased Oculus for USD$2bn (£1.52bn) back in 2014, following a wave of VR hype significantly inspired by the success of the 2012 Oculus Rift Kickstarter campaign.

“We’ve also been focusing on delivering the next computing platform with augmented and virtual reality” Zuckerberg said elsewhere on the call. “The defining characteristic of AR and VR is that they deliver the sense of presence, like you’re right there with another person or in another place. And this is the Holy Grail of social experiences.”

Global Game Jam 2020 begins

Today over 30,000 game makers spread across at least 938 locations in 119 countries are beginning the 48-hour development challenge that is the Global Game Jam 2020.

Now in it’s 11th year, the Global Game Jam challenges developers to make a game in 48 hours, to a theme revealed in the event’s opening moments. It welcomes both amateurs and hobbyists, but equally serves as a creative exercise for many professionals, and has become an important means through which student game makers can expand their practical experience while building portfolio.

“We’re honoured to have Chris Avellone joining us as Global Game Jam’s keynote for 2020,” said Kate Edwards, executive director of Global Game Jam, referring to the jam’s opening speaker, of Obsidian and Black Isle Studios fame. “This is our 12th Global Game Jam, and we are excited to usher in the new decade with creativity and teamwork with a bigger group in more countries than ever before.”

Global Game Jam is the largest event of its type. Jams across the world have sometimes spawned what have gone on to be released as full and thriving titles, even partly defining a studio’s future success. An example would be Bossa’s beloved and playful; Surgeon Simulator, which started out as a mischievous spin on Global Game Jam 2013’s theme of ‘Sound of a Heartbeat’.