EA and Take-Two: A Tale of Two Holiday Seasons

THIS WEEK IN THE BUSINESS | EA, Take-Two, mobile risks, and 90s internet simulators.

This Week in Business is a collection of stats and quotes from our sister site GamesIndustry.biz that sheds light on console sales, new trends, and more. Check back every Friday for a new entry!

A number of companies released their quarterly financial results this week for the period ending in December. Most notable among them were EA and Take-Two, though the companies told two very different stories. EA looked back on a rocky quarter that saw a disappointing release of Battlefield 5 lead to missed financial targets, but also managed to revel in what was to come with positive projections for Anthem and its launch of free-to-play Apex Legends.

Take-Two, on the other hand, came out of 2018 looking far stronger with Red Dead Redemption 2 and other successes with games such as NBA2K19. Without having to apologize for anything, the company had room to discuss other topics such as digital distribution services and the future of Red Dead Online.

Also this week, various developers large and small spoke about taking risks, including bringing a popular PC and console franchise to mobile, creating a 90s internet simulator game, and working entirely alone on what became a popular and successful project.

STAT | 16-19 percent - The amount EA stock dropped after the publisher acknowledged in its Q3 financials it had a "difficult quarter" between a disappointing Battlefield 5 launch and competition with Red Dead Redemption 2.

STAT | 7.3 million – The amount of units Battlefield 5 sold in EA's Q3, missing the company's sales target of 8.3 million. CEO Andrew Wilson blamed the game's later release date (being pushed from October 19 to November 20) and the prioritization of a single-player experience at launch over battle royale mode.

STAT | 5-6 million – The amount of units EA expects to sell of Anthem before the end of the fiscal year on March 31, 2019. The game launches February 22, giving it six weeks to reach the projected target.

QUOTE | "We want to be where the consumer is. We see competition on the retail side to be a good thing. It just means more distribution." – Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick sees the Epic Store's arrival as a good thing for reaching more consumers, but says the company isn't interested in launching its own download platform.

STAT | 23 million – The amount of copies Red Dead Redemption 2 has sold through to retail. Combined with solid performances from NBA 2K19, Civilization 6 on Nintendo Switch, and the usual success of GTA 5, Take-Two has raised its full-year financial guidance.

QUOTE | "Diverse teams are more creative, more innovative, hit deadlines better and ultimately create experiences that are compelling to the broadest audience possible…Hiring people with diverse backgrounds and viewpoints is critical for our new studio to grow and flourish." – Former EA and Activision development lead Michael Condrey says he plans to focus on building a diverse workforce at the new studio he's heading up for Take-Two's 2K label in Silicon Valley.

QUOTE | "The Pennsylvania bill is a violation of the US Constitution…Numerous authorities - including scientists, medical professionals, government agencies, and the US Supreme Court - found that video games do not cause violence." – In response to a Pennsylvania bill proposing a 10 percent additional sales tax on adult and mature games at retail, the ESA encourages awareness of the ESRB rating system and parental controls.

QUOTE | "Mobile's half the game's market at this point, and everyone carries mobile phones, even core gamers who play on console and PC have a phone. If you want to be a relevant gaming brand, you've gotta be on mobile." – Universal Games and Digital Platforms EVP Chris Heatherly discusses the publisher's partnership with Starbreeze to bring the Payday franchise to mobile this year with Payday: Crime War.

QUOTE | "We went to the community and said we would continue making Armello…there wasn't even a vocabulary for games-as-a-service on anything other than mobile. I said to the community something like we were going to continue this 'Early Access style of development.'" – League of Geeks co-founder Trent Kusters, along with fellow co-founder Blake Mizzi tells the story of turning Armello around from a rocky launch to a games-as-a-service success.

QUOTE | "At the beginning, I don't know if you could even call this a game. It felt like more of a toy for a little while. We'd always intended to slide it into legitimate game territory, but at the start we were mostly adding things because it was fun, or it interested us or whatever. And then later we stuck a game in there somehow." – Jay Tholen's Hypnospace Outlaw is effectively a 90s internet simulator with a game at its heart, but Tholen says recreating the internet of the past in a way that remains accessible to modern users has proved challenging in a number of ways.

QUOTE | "Isolation for all of us is corrosive, but when you or the issues you care about are addressed directly, acknowledged, represented in the media you encounter, that gives you a clear and tangible piece of evidence that you are not on your own." – Speaking at the Ludicious Game Festival in Switzerland, Fullbright co-founder Steve Gaynor used The Sims as an example of how games can address social issues, privilege, and isolation.

QUOTE | "I can't recommend what I did just based on the fact that I just had a lot of fortunate events keep me [going] all the way to the end." – Solo developer Joakim Sandberg has seen success with his Metroidvania-style title Iconoclasts, but recommends other developers learn from his mistakes rather than try to replicate his process.

QUOTE | "He'll occasionally have a remark.... but largely I don't know how Nathan Drake feels about killing and that's by design." – What can video games learn from professional wrestling? Quite a bit, according to freelance narrative designer and former Ubisoft Montreal scriptwriter Kim Belair, who explained how wrestling's relationship between action and narrative can provide a guideline for video games to improve their narratives.

QUOTE | "If you and I played FIFA for a few hours, we could stop, have a beer and then pick it up again. But our guys are more athletes than in a number of esports spaces. I know the big esports teams have nutritionists and all that, but I think simulation racing is different." – McLaren director of esports Ben Payne says that unlike other types of games and esports, the McLaren Shadow Project has the potential to transform talented simulation racers into real-world drivers.

Tagged with Action Adventure, Electronic Arts, FPS, News, PC, PlayStation 4, Rockstar Games, Shooters, Switch, Take-Two Interactive Software, This Week in the Business, Xbox One.

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