EA Aims to Win Over Soccer Fans to Sustain High-Flying Stock Price
NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- With the fall video-gaming season fast approaching, Electronic Arts
With shares up 57% this year, handily outpacing the S&P 500 SPX at 6.5%, the Redwood City, CA.-based game developer is betting that enthusiasm borne of the World cup, which concludes on Sunday, can help the company sustain a profit margin that surged to 33% in the first quarter of 2014.
Electronic Arts' profit jump came as the company's revenue fell for eight consecutive quarters on a year-over-year comparison.
Driving EA's growth has been its affiliation with FIFA, world soccer's governing body, which has authorized the use of players and teams that are among the biggest popular draw in all of entertainment. It's latest soccer game, FIFA 15, will lead EA's fall lineup. Using human-recognition technology and cinema photography, the title is likely to compete for EA's best selling game in 2015.
Completely stripped down and reconstructed, FIFA 15 was created using some of the best gaming and sports technology to be see in a new gaming title. Producer Santiago Jaramillo, in an interview in New York this week, said that the rebuild, "became a priority mainly because of feedback, not just from us playing the game, but from press and from fans."
Starting with the players, each body is leaner, creating a more soccer superstar like physique. "For the players, we knew that the upper torso just didn't look quite right so we redid the entire skeleton," Jaramillio added. With each unique body type, player jerseys, hair and facial structure move with the player, creating near human like reactions to game play.
EA enlisted players from the MLS Vancouver White Caps to capture authentic player movement. But technology only goes so far.
"Every time we do [motion capture] we have to give [the players] a scenario and build them up because they take it a little bit lighter and they don't have that level of intensity and that transfers to the animations, " Jaramillio said. "You can see that in a game, he would have done that differently but because he was just in the studio wearing that wetsuit, he just doesn't quite do the same. So it's a little bit like acting and you really have to direct them to do that."
EA is taking the experience of FIFA 15 one step further by giving gamers over 60 real life stadiums, complete with authentic crowd chants and reactions. Even further, EA partnered with team sponsors and have included actual video boards, surrounding the circumference of the field. Noted Jaramillo, "It's the deals that each team has in real life. We'll have some generic ones for the teams that don't have it and we're still going to have the video ad board, but for the teams that have those that use that technology to drive their own sponsors then we'll do the exact same thing."