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EA has record $5.2bn year as digital booms – while it looks to a subscription-based future

EA continues to successfully transition its business to a games-as-a-service model, posting record revenues of $5.2bn for its FY 2018 with digital revenues accounting for 68 per cent of that figure, up 7 per cent year-on-year, and live services accounting for $2.2bn of that.

Digital shift continued at a six per cent rate, just over EA’s own prediction of 5 per cent per year. That meant 39 per cent of full game sales on PS4 and Xbox One were digital, up from 33 per cent a year ago.

Looking to the future, EA sees subscription services as a large part of the gaming market – though still as part of a mixed market of large, small and ongoing payments.

"What we’re seeing is a real move toward subscription as the best way to access content and the most frictionless way to access content and a way to build a relationship with a platform play who offers that collection of content wrapped in services," said CEO Andrew Wilson.

"And so our expectation is while we will continue to offer the access to content through any and all business models that our players tell us they want to utilize, we expect that consumers, much the way they have in other industries, will move more towards subscription. And that will become a far more meaningful part of our business and maybe even the majority of our business in the years to come.

Speaking of the more immediate future, Wilson said: "In FY 2019, we will also continue to lead with innovation in our subscriptions and new technologies. We will introduce a new offering to one of our industry-leading subscription programs, delivering unprecedented access and value."

However he wouldn’t be drawn on whether EA would follow Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass in offering its premium titles such as the latest FIFA and Battlefield releases on a subscription service. Instead talking about a broader service with third-parties involved in providing content.

"What you’re seeing from us with signing third parties is bringing new and interesting and different content in. You might imagine that front-line content will become an important part of that in the future and that we might work collaboratively with other content creators and developers and publishers to ensure we have a truly robust subscription offering."

About Seth Barton

Seth Barton is the editor of MCV – which covers every aspect of the industry: development, publishing, marketing and much more. Before that Seth toiled in games retail at Electronics Boutique, studied film at university, published console and PC games for the BBC, and spent many years working in tech journalism. Living in South East London, he divides his little free time between board games, video games, beer and family. You can find him tweeting @sethbarton1.

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