EA Launches 11 New Games at E3 — but None for Nintendo
Electronic Arts showed off 11 games at its annual pre-E3 press conference – but none, it appears, will appear on the Nintendo Wii U.
Reflecting the focus of this year's show, EA instead spotlighted titles for the new consoles from Microsoft and Sony, showcasing a pair of new graphics engines that are meant to showcase the graphical advances of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
"These are the games that will define the new consoles when they launch later this year," said Peter Moore, chief operating office of EA.
The lineup not only underscored the disappointing sales of Nintendo's new console, it represented a heavy bet on two system as EA attempts to turn the company around after years of disappointing earnings.
The new games, which will be released this holiday season and in 2014, primarily focus on two genres: Action and sports. (And, in the case of the company's new UFC game, a combination of both.)
While there were several familiar titles in the presentation, such as the annualized Need for Speed, FIFA and Madden games, EA also showcased new intellectual properties and new takes on catalog games to broaden its portfolio.
Most noticeable among these was "Titanfall," the new franchise from Respawn Entertainment, the studio created by the creators of Activision's (ATVI) multi-billion dollar "Call of Duty" series.
The game, which will be exclusive to the Xbox One, blends traditional content with giant mechanical weapons in a futuristic environment. "Titanfall," which seems to have a heavy multiplayer focus (a key component of the team's work on "Call of Duty"), is scheduled to release next spring.
Squaring off with this year's "Call of Duty" installment will be "Battlefield 4". EA has shown the game several times in the past, but used its press event to showcase a multiplayer mode, where 64 people were able to engage in combat live on the field of battle while another person used a tablet in the newly announced "commander" mode, doing things like ordering squadrons to different areas, which gives the game a more integrated, strategic mode.
Investors will be looking at Battlefield's performance this year as they weigh the state of the company's progress in once again becoming a dominant industry force.
"This is expected to be a major catalyst to the stock this year and positive critical reviews for this title could boost shares," says Arvind Bhatia of Stern Agee.
EA also vowed to finally bring back its "NBA Live" franchise, which has been benched for the past three years. That title's absence has allowed Take-Two Interactive Software to gain a firm grasp on NBA videogame fans.
Other titles on display included a first person shooter set in the quirky "Plants vs. Zombies" franchise and the return of "Mirror's Edge," a fan favorite despite poor sales in its 2007 debut. (The game sold roughly 2 million copies, far short of EA's expectation of 3 million.)
The company also teased fans with its first upcoming "Star Wars" game after winning an exclusive license to the property from Disney (DIS) earlier this year. "Star Wars: Battlefield," due out next year, uses the same graphics engine as "Battlefield 4".
EA shares are up more than 50 percent this year, but the company has had a rough time recently. For the past six years, earnings have been anemic, which eventually led to the ouster of CEO John Riccitiello. Analysts note, however, that the company does seem well positioned to rebound with the launch of the new generation of consoles.
EA is stoking that optimism with its financial projections. The company has issued guidance for this fiscal year of $4.0 billion in revenues and earnings per share of $1.20, compared to fiscal 2013 results of $3.793 billion in revenue and earnings of 84 cents a share.