After a difficult 2018 characterised by sluggish sales and further loss of ground to multiplayer juggernaut ‘Fortnite’, EA has taken another huge hit after newly released earnings figures of $262 million for Q3 2018 showed that the company missed its $1.38 billion revenue target for 2018 by some way.
The new figures showed a $90 million revenue shortfall against its projected annual revenue as the gaming giant, famously rated as America’s most hated gaming company made $1.29 billion in 2018.
While this figure is 11 percent up on the 2017 figure, it underlines the extent to which EA is losing ground to competitors like Epic Games which owns Fortnite. In a year that saw it release the long-awaited “Battlefield V” title and continue consolidating its growing live services revenue streams, the company’s entire income was still substantially less than the $2.4 billion recorded by Fortnite alone over the same period.
Following the news of the missed revenue target, EA shares dipped a massive 17 percent, with the company acknowledging that increased competition for the holiday gaming market segment with Fortnite and Activision’s ‘Call of Duty’ was responsible for the doldrums.
Over the years, EA has gained a notorious reputation for its aggressive pushing of in-game purchases and a perceived excessive number of playing hours required to scale different levels of its ‘free’ games. the Canadian company also has a reputation for swallowing smaller gaming companies and running them in a way that some say amounts to deliberately grinding them into the ground. The surprise announcement of “Apex Legends” seems to be EA’s answer to Fortnite in what promises to be its biggest battle to date.
Expected to replace the Titanfall franchise, Apex Legends reportedly shares a number of close similarities with Fortnite. Already, initial reports from early testers and reviewers suggest that the game may be just what the doctor ordered for EA in its fight against what has become one of the most successful gaming titles of all time. Of course, there is quite a gap between having a decent game and having a product that can match the Fortnite’s 200 million players or the estimated 124 million hours spent watching Fortnite streams on Twitch in 2018.
According to reviews, Apex Legends has clearly worked on doing better than Fortnite in some key areas including gameplay and interaction between players. Comparing the features of both games, a reviewer quoted in PC Gamer says:
Honestly, playing public duos or squads in Fortnite is hell. When you, an adult, are learning new words from someone that clearly hasn’t entered puberty yet, something is wrong. [On Apex Legends], the ping system guarantees you’ll never have to talk to a racist preteen.
If Apex Legends is able to deliver on its promise and EA effectively monetizes the opportunity, it just might be the saviour for the gaming giant that America loves to hate. Either way, what seems clear is that the ‘freemium’ model is increasingly likely to dominate the future of gaming.
Featured image from Electronic Arts.