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Digital sales, next-gen software drive EA's fiscal Q3 2014 results

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Electronic Arts had a solid third quarter of its 2014 fiscal year, with results led primarily by the publisher's digital business and by sales of software on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, the company announced today.

EA's fiscal Q3 2014, which ran from Oct. 1 through Dec. 31, 2013, included the launch of both next-generation consoles, and in the month of December, EA was the top publisher in the West on both systems. EA DICE's Battlefield 4, EA Tiburon's Madden NFL 25, EA Canada's FIFA 14 and Ghost Games' Need for Speed Rivals came in as the publisher's top-selling next-gen titles. Across all platforms, FIFA 14 ended up as the best-selling game in Europe during the month.

Digital net revenue on a GAAP (generally accepted accounting principles) basis in EA's third quarter increased 27.7 percent over the same period in 2012 to $410 million. Those results were driven by a collective year-over-year growth of 60 percent in non-GAAP net revenue across the microtransaction-based Ultimate Team modes in EA's Madden NFL, FIFA Soccer and NHL franchises.

"In addition to consoles, our mobile games, digital downloads and live services are growing year-over-year as we continue to deliver exciting new experiences to gamers around the world," said EA CEO Andrew Wilson in an investor release today.

While EA beat its quarterly projection of $775 million in GAAP net revenue with revenue of $808 million, the company's non-GAAP net revenue of $1.57 billion missed its target of $1.65 billion. EA's Q3 non-GAAP financial measures excluded items such as a change in deferred net revenue for online games; $40 million in expenses for a settlement regarding EA's college football franchise; restructuring charges; and acquisition-related expenses.

EA suffered a GAAP net loss of $308 million during the quarter, whereas the company lost $45 million a year prior. GAAP earnings per share also worsened, going from a loss of $0.15 per share in Q3 2013 to a loss of $1.00 per share in Q3 2014. On a non-GAAP basis, EA pulled in a net income of $398 million in Q3.

The fourth quarter of EA's 2014 fiscal year will end March 31, and EA is lowering its non-GAAP net revenue guidance for the full year to $3.91 billion because of weak current-generation software. EA executives will provide more details on an investor call this afternoon.