EA promises “massive year of innovation” across all sports games
EA has promised a “massive year of innovation” across its entire sports line-up, in a conference call analyzing its performance in 2021 so far.
Fronted by CEO Andrew Wilson, the call made a big deal of two new additions to its sports line-up, in F1 2021 and PGA Tour Golf, and effectively confirmed FIFA 22, Madden 22, and NHL 22 at the same time.
“All of our new EA Sports games are designed for next-gen console platforms including FIFA, Madden, NHL and EA Sports PGA Tour,” says Wilson. “We’re very excited by the opportunity to deliver for baseball fans around the world with the addition of Super Mega Baseball from Metalhead Software and MLB Tap Sports Baseball on mobile. EA Sports is also publishing the highest-rated sports franchise in the world with F1 2021, our first title from our recently completed Codemasters acquisition.”
On top of this, Wilson says FIFA 21 was its most successful football game ever.
“Our EA Sports FIFA experiences continue to engage more than 100 million players worldwide,” he says. “More than 20 million players played FIFA Ultimate Team in the last year, and FIFA Ultimate Team matches were up an incredible 180%. Madden NFL had its biggest year ever, and games across our EA Sports portfolio continue to acquire more players than ever before. We’ll now build on that strength with a massive year of innovation and expansion.”
In the first three months of this year alone, Ultimate Team’s popularity increased by a third when compared to the same period in 2020, according to EA COO Blake Jorgensen.
“Ultimate Team growth in last quarter was up 30% [year over year],” says Jorgensen. “The team has done an amazing job across all sports to find ways to continue to innovate and add new events. That’s what drives people to play Ultimate Team. And we’ve gotten better and better at that over the life of the product, and we’ll continue to do that and we have optimism for the coming year and many years to come.”
Wilson also teased the return of a classic racing series to join F1 on PS5 and Xbox Series X. “[Acquiring Codemasters] was an opportunity for us to really think more broadly about our holistic racing strategy,” he says. “Need for Speed will absolutely be a meaningful part of our future… With the combination of EA and Codemasters, we can actually expand and extend and enhance an interesting franchise.”
The only downside to all this news surrounding fresh sports games is that we’re unlikely to see them properly until July, after the annual EA Play event was postponed by a month.
“On EA Play, I think that typically, E3 governed the key promotional time frame across most of the industry [and that] happened in June,” says Wilson. “Given COVID and virtual marketing and the nature of these things, we’ve been able to think about what’s the most appropriate timeline for us. And given the launch schedules in our games, we feel like July is the right time frame. You’ll hear a lot from our build in June, and we’ll kind of ramp-up to that July.”