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EA investing $80m on next-gen dev, 'Star Wars: The Old Republic' sheds 400k subs, Origin earns $150m

EA is dropping $80 million on development for "Gen4 console systems" this year

EA Origin numbers
EA Origin numbers

Electronic Arts is looking to spend $80 million on next-gen software development for consoles, Star Wars: The Old Republic has shed 400,000 subscribers since February, and the company's unpopular Origin platform has nevertheless managed to sign up 11 million members, and bring in $150 million.

Electronic Arts' revenue skyrocketed in Q4 FY2012, earning a total $1.36 billion for the quarter; a 24 percent year-over-year increase.

Digital sales increased 98 percent over FY2011, earning $419 million for the quarter – however, packaged goods (namely, Mass Effect 3 and FIFA 12) pulled in a vast majority of the company's revenue, to the tune of $949 million.

The quarter was good to EA, but the 2012 fiscal year (which ended March 31) as a whole was not so kind: though EA's revenue increased 15 percent over FY2011, to $4.14 billion, its net income fell from $276 million to $76 million during the same time period.

Last February, Electronic Arts reported 1.7 million subscribers to its historically expensive MMO production, Star Wars: The Old Republic. Today, the publisher reported just 1.3 million subscribers, a nearly 25 percent dip of 400,000 subscribers. On an earnings call this afternoon, EA CEO John Riccitiello says the game is "stable, profitable" and adds "we have strong plans to grow in fiscal 13." To combat the atrophy in subscribers, EA is releasing two "new content packs" called "Legacy" and "Allies." Both will be available in the company's first first quarter, ranging from April through June.

On the digital sales front, the company's ... unpopular Origin distribution service has managed to sign up 11 million players and earn "approximately $150 million" on a non-GAAP basis since its initial release last June. With a few more high-profile titles like Mass Effect 3 available on the PC platform only through Origin, we'd expect that number to continue to rise.

Lastly, EA has said that it's already investing in development of software for next-gen platforms – which the company is called "Gen4 console systems" – to the tune of $80 million for fiscal 2013. "We are strong believers that console will return to strong growth and represent a great opportunity," Riccitiello said. "One that is in lockstep with our digital plan." Of course, Riccitiello took the stage during Nintendo's E3 press conference last year touting an "unprecedented partnership between Nintendo and Electronic Arts," calling the Wii U "truly transformational" and "a better platform than we've ever been offered by Nintendo."

EA's focus on that "digital plan" is also responsible for a $40 million spend on restructuring, including a $23 million severance payout and $11 million for "license termination."

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