Last October, video-game giant Electronic Arts (NASDAQ:EA) launched the latest installment in its long-running Battlefield series of first-person-shooter video games, known as Battlefield 1.
The game got off to a robust start, with Electronic Arts CEO Andrew Wilson noting on the company's earnings call in January that Battlefield 1 represented the company's "biggest Battlefield launch ever."
He also said that the "unique player base of Battlefield 1 is more than 50% larger than that of Battlefield 4 in its comparable launch quarter," noting that "more than a third of the players being new to the franchise or new to [Electronic Arts]."
On Electronic Arts' May 9 earnings call, management provided an update on Battlefield 1's commercial progress. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, the news is good.
"Battlefield 1 continued its outstanding start, with more than 19 million players joining the game through the end of [fiscal year] 2017," Wilson said.
The executive also noted that this figure represented "a 50% increase over Battlefield 4 in the same period from launch."
Wilson also said the company's "community of Battlefield fans is growing as new players join loyal franchise fans, driving engagement and player satisfaction levels to be among the highest in [Electronic Arts'] portfolio."
To try to keep the momentum up, Electronic Arts says it's planning to introduce additional content for Battlefield 1, with Wilson noting that "every Battlefield 1 player will have more ways to play throughout the year, with continual game updates, new maps, and three more expansion packs adding new armies, regions, and battlegrounds available to the whole community."
Leveraging Battlefield success in Battlefront
Electronic Arts also develops titles in the Star Wars Battlefront series. These games are first-person shooters like the Battlefield titles, but they're based in the Star Wars intellectual property rather than on Electronic Arts' in-house Battlefield intellectual property.
Later this year, Electronic Arts plans to launch a sequel to Star Wars Battlefront (which launched in 2015) called Star Wars Battlefront II.
According to Wilson, Battlefront II "will have more than three times the content of the previous game at launch, with a brand-new story, a new single-player campaign, new modes, characters, vehicles, and planets from all eras in the Star Wars universe, as well as a live service plan that will continue to add even more fun for the global community."
Electronic Arts Chief Financial Officer Blake Jorgensen noted that the original Battlefront sold about 14 million copies in its launch year, and the company expects similar performance from Battlefront II.
"Out aspirations are clearly to sell more," Jorgensen said. "We think this will appeal to not just the broad Star Wars fan base, but also to the deep, heavily engaged Battlefield fan base and the Battlefront fan base."
Although time will tell how Battlefront II ultimately does in the marketplace, I do think Jorgensen made a good point that Battlefront II will potentially appeal to the Battlefield 1 player base. Both Battlefront and Battlefield are first-person-shooter games, so the intersection of the sets of customers interested in each series is probably substantial -- something that could help boost Battlefront II sales.
Star Wars Battlefront II is expected to launch on Nov. 17, so by the time Electronic Arts' late January/early February earnings call rolls around, investors should have a reasonable idea of the title's reception in the marketplace.