Rival video game companies Electronics Arts and Take-Two Interactive both reported strong third-quarter earnings during yesterday’s calls, in large part because of new title releases.
Although EA’s revenue fell 14% from $1.45 billion to $1.15 billion, the studio outperformed expectations. Like EA, Take-Two Interactive’s revenue also fell—but only 2%, from $858 million to $841 million. Among its biggest contributors this quarter were newly released NBA 2K21 as well as NBA 2K20, PGA Tour 2K21 and the WWE series.
“We delivered a quarter well above our guidance, driven by our live services, particularly Madden and FIFA. This resulted in a new record trailing twelve-month cash flow of $2.04 billion,” said EA CEO Andrew Wilson.
Despite being one of the worst user-rated games in Metacritic history, Madden 21 has 30% more players than last year’s iteration, which was the most successful Madden game in EA’s history. This is likely because there are no other options for those who want to play NFL simulation games.
The battleground sport between the two video game companies has been football. EA has maintained exclusive rights to all simulation NFL games, keeping 2K out of the gridiron gaming space for the last 15 years. Since EA and the NFL extended their exclusive partnership earlier this year, 2K won’t have another shot at creating a simulation-style football game until 2026, when the contract ends.
However, 2K found another way to get on the football field earlier this year. The studio announced a partnership with OneTeam Partners and the NFLPA that will allow the 2K to use the names, numbers, images and likenesses of over 2,000 NFL players for non-simulation football games. Predecessor non-simulation football games include EA’s retired NFL Street franchise and Midway Games’ NFL Blitz. 2K’s first non-simulation football is set to release next year.
“Our positive momentum continued in the fiscal second quarter with operating results that significantly exceeded our expectations,” said Strauss Zelnick, chairman and CEO of Take-Two. “Our terrific results were highlighted by the outperformance of NBA 2K, PGA TOUR 2K21, and the Mafia: Definitive Editions and Mafia: Trilogy, reflecting our ability to deliver consistently the highest quality entertainment experiences to consumers.
Both video game makers are preparing to release games for the next-gen console systems, Sony’s Playstation 5 and Microsoft’s Xbox Series X/S.