Monday, August 08, 2005

EA Relying on Video Game Sequels

This is not specific to the mobile universe, but it does offer a good read for those companies trying to tap into the mobile gaming market. The New York Times (site registration required) takes a look at the potential pitfalls Electronic Arts faces due to its heavy reliance on sequels for its well-established gaming library (e.g. Madden, Need for Speed) and licensed media properties (i.e. Lord of the Rings). The strategy has come under fire recently given disappointing financial results and whether the company has lost its creative way.

Mike Hickey financial analyst at Janco Partners said "There's a feeling of franchise fatigue. Gamers are wondering, 'Do I need to buy this game again this year? I just bought it last year."

Michael Wallace, financial analyst at UBS, commenting on EA's dependence on sports games, which account for about 30 percent revenue, said, "Their sports business gives them a leg up on everybody else. It's the closest thing there is to recurring revenue in this business."

So what does this all mean for the mobile gaming industry, especially EA's emerging efforts in the space? Will gamers want to own Madden for their cell phone or mobile device if they already have a better version for their game console? As recent research has shown, casual/simple games currently rule the mobile gaming space with sports and action games not garnering much appeal beyond a small audience.

Where might EA succeed? I can definitely see a mobile version of The Sims being successful among both male and female audiences, and driving network traffic for the carriers. Combining it with some sort of location-based service might be a very cool twist too, allowing users to interact with other sims that are physically close by.

It's hard to bet against EA with their massive market presence and extensive catalog, but it will probably require a different mindset to penetrate the mobile market. Is EA up to the task?