EA cools its stance on NFTs and is not ‘driving hard’ on the tech

2 Feb 2022

Image: © Tupungato/Stock.adobe.com

CEO Andrew Wilson said the company would ‘evaluate’ its position on NFTs and blockchain over time, despite previously calling them ‘the future’ of gaming.

EA’s CEO has changed his tune on the position of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) in the gaming sector.

Andrew Wilson said three months ago that NFTs and the broader blockchain gaming market represented “the future of our industry”. But on EA’s most recent earnings call, which took place yesterday (1 February), he said EA would not be “driving hard” on NFTs any time soon.

“I believe that collectability will continue to be an important part of our industry and the games and experiences that we offer our players,” Wilson said. “Whether that’s as part of NFT and the blockchain, well, that remains to be seen.

“We want to deliver the best possible player experience we can … We’ll evaluate that over time, but right now, it’s not something that we’re driving hard against.”

NFTs exploded last year as a way to verify digital files using blockchain technology. The gaming industry’s position so far on blockchain and NFTs has been mixed.

EA competitor Ubisoft recently announced its plans to create blockchain games and launched an NFT platform for in-game items. Meanwhile Steam has banned blockchain-based games from its platform and GameStop is planning to create a new marketplace dedicated to NFTs.

Wilson acknowledged on yesterday’s earnings call that NFTs are an area driving investment in gaming. But he was less bullish on EA pushing into the space than he was on the last earnings call, when he said the company was “in a really good position” to offer “collectible digital content”.

‘Largest quarter for net bookings’

The Nasdaq-listed company was announcing financial results for its third fiscal quarter, ending 31 December 2021.

EA’s CFO, Blake Jorgensen, said Q3 was “the largest quarter in the company’s history for net bookings,” underlying profitability and cash generation. Net bookings for the trailing 12 months was $7.25bn, up 22pc year on year.

“Our portfolio approach will enable us to deliver organic growth in the double digits this year, continue to deliver strong cash flow, and provides a strong foundation for growth as we look to the future.”

Wilson added that there had been “outstanding growth,” and EA’s games were among the most-downloaded and most-played titles during the holiday quarter and over the last year.

“Our network of more than 540m unique active accounts continues to expand, players are spending more time in our games, and with our amazing IP we are well positioned for continued growth,” Wilson said.

In terms of individual title performance, EA’s Battlefield 2042 failed to live up to the company’s expectations, with unanticipated performance issues and fewer units sold than expected.

But Jorgensen said that “disappointing” sales of Battlefield 2042 were offset by a strong showing from FIFA and Apex Legends.

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Blathnaid O’Dea was a Careers reporter at Silicon Republic until 2024.