EA: Current-gen sports games pre-orders are "soft" owing to nearing next-gen

Publisher EA has predicted a slight dip in annual sales of its key sports IPs thanks to the upcoming transition to next-gen consoles.

Furthermore, EA president and COO Peter Moore described pre-orders for current-gen EA Sports titles as soft” in a call with investors last night.

We’re seeing softness, in particular, on our key sports titles on current gen pre-orders. I think consumers anticipate getting the new hardware,” he said, as reported by Seeking Alpha. We certainly came out of E3 with renewed enthusiasm for new hardware, and I think that’s being reflected in current gen pre-orders.

Probably the exception on that is FIFA, which we continue to see great anticipation around the world. I think pre-orders will start to come in late as consumers start to realize that there may be not enough hardware to go around for every consumer in the world to buy a next gen piece of hardware. But this is as planned, as anticipated. I do see and expect to see some pickup as we get closer to launch.”

Moore added that Battlefield 4 pre-orders are currently tracking ahead of how Battlefield 3 was performing at the same stage.

Gen3 sports titles would be down year-over-year, slightly, with the exception of FIFA, which we believe will continue to see growth because of the strength of that franchise around the globe and that sport around the globe,” CFO and executive VP Blake Jorgensen added.

For the year, we’re assuming, because some of those titles ship before the Gen4 boxes are out, that the total franchise, both Gen3 and Gen4, will be down slightly and that’s built into our guidance.”

None of which means EA isn’t confident about PS4 and Xbox One. Indeed, despite spending much of the call emphasising the increasing performance of digital releases on the Apple App Store and Origin on PC, Moore presented a positive next-gen outlook.

Consumers are acutely aware that new hardware is coming,” he stated. Neither company has shared their specific volume targets, but there are outward signs of strong customer demand. Microsoft reports that Xbox One presales are trending ahead of the 360 during the same time period and

PlayStation believes this will be their biggest hardware launch ever.

So we believe that the key indicators are pointing to a strong launch for both consoles in the holiday window.

The new systems are spectacular and we expect millions of players will quickly make the transition to better graphics, online features and motion control. Our job as a publisher is to provide an easy migration for the millions of players who choose to transition onto the new hardware.”

Added Blake: Since the installed base of Gen4 will still be relatively small even through the Christmas cycle or holiday cycle and the bulk of our titles fall in the first 3 quarters of the year, our assumptions are that a relatively small portion of our total revenue will actually be Gen4 this year.”

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