Game publisher Electronic Arts has been repeatedly recognized as the worst company in America, and yet it still rakes in money. During the company’s recent earnings call, EA was asked about its plans for single-player games. Although CEO Andrew Wilson claimed solo experiences are still part of its DNA, EA’s chief financial officer Chris Suh cut him off at the knees, reminding everyone that most of the company’s revenue comes from live services.
EA is behind some of the most popular and iconic franchises in gaming, including Apex Legends, Battlefield, and Star Wars Battlefront. It should come as no surprise it has been in hot water over the way it handles those games on numerous occasions. The company doesn’t ruin things you like with microtransactions and loot boxes just for fun, though. It makes a lot of money doing it.
A “live service game” is simply a title that maintains a connection to the company’s servers to deliver content and experiences, often for additional fees. For example, loot boxes in Apex Legends and card packs in FIFA. It’s not hard to see why EA is addicted to live services. When you buy a single-player game, that might be the only money EA sees. But live services keep making money over the life of a game. The increasing share of revenue coming from these sources tells you all you need to know — microtransactions are only going to become more common.
Apex Legends live services are a cash cow for EA.
According to the company’s latest releases, EA took in $1.78 billion in its first 2023 fiscal quarter. That’s several hundred million higher than analysts expected. Despite having kind things to say about single-player experiences, that’s not where Electronic Arts is making its money. It’s mostly live services, according to VGC. However, the impact of live services is only increasing. Revenue from these sources was up 20 percent over last year, accounting for a whopping 73 percent of EA’s total revenue.
The live services windfall is at least funding some new single-player games. A Dead Space remake will launch in early 2023, and Star Wars Jedi: Survivor will be available later in the year. There’s also the hotly anticipated Mass Effect 4, which will be the first new installment in the series since Mass Effect 3 in 2012. However, that one isn’t expected until later in 2024.