Electronic Arts ($EA), otherwise known as EA, has an earnings call today. 2020 will prove interesting for the gaming giant, as new consoles from both Sony and Microsoft are slated to launch later in the year, and the company's aging franchises continue to scramble for audience and reach.
The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the company's third-quarter is $2.51 per share (Q3 in the gaming industry is really holiday season since Q4 is Jan-March and that's when EA's fiscal year ends). The revenues and net bookings are close to $2 billion, but EA had that number pegged a while ago. Instead, for our purposes here, we look at EA's reach and popularity via game streaming platforms as well as workforce growth and social engagement as ways to understand how the company is doing as we head into a new game console generation.
Plants vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville failed to chart on our traction data. That's a new game release and its absence is a bad sign for EA. That said, Twitch viewership isn't necessarily tied to early game sales, as Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order (an EA title) broke sales records and has also failed to create viewer traction on Twitch after a spike of engagement in November when the game was first released. But as the leader in video game streaming content, Twitch is a platform that handles most of EA's live announcements at E3, professional esports tournaments, and is a significant factor in a game's staying power and popularity. Declining interest across the board can be profound considering where EA was at the start of 2019.
Our main question after looking at this chart is: will EA continue to lean on its live service games for the foreseeable future, or will it bank on just selling a lot of sports fans on annual releases to keep itself afloat? Apex Legends tailed off in Twitch viewership after a while, even though a healthy amount of people still play that game. Not every title EA has under its wing works well under the Twitch model of accumulating streaming engagement, but a hell of a lot of its biggest games do.
Another question is: will loot box regulation in Europe (and maybe the U.S.) alter game development to such a degree that profits drop and battle passes become the new standard?
The great LinkedIn purge of December 2019 showed around 5,000 people were incorrectly listing themselves as EA employees, which shows that the stock and staff count are now almost totally aligned in our data. Despite that big dip, which is really more about LinkedIn's ability to stay accurate more than it is about EA, hiring has been up (not shown here, check out our demo for more access). At least EA didn't pull an Activision and fire 800 people for no reason.
Facebook Likes and Talking About count don't look good for EA. Not that Facebook is the hip place where gamers and Gen Z kids go to talk about the latest season of Apex, but you never want to see social media data dip when it's so much easier to add new fans than it is to drive them to click "unsubscribe" and "unlike" on their computers.
Another fun fact: that major spike in June 2017 everyone was talking about was in reference to EA's clumsy E3 showing, and...well, you can just read about that here and here to find out why that year was so controversial and bad for EA. Will players get sick of soccer and football every year? What can the new consoles do for Battlefront and Battlefield? Will Titanfall ever come back? And do any of these questions matter when EA can still make money?
About the Data:
Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online - jobs, social and web traffic, product sales and app ratings - and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales.