Full Transcript athttps://seekingalpha.com/article/4071402-electronic-arts-ea-q4-2017-results-earnings-call-transcript?part=single
FIFA 17 expanded the reach of the world's biggest sports gaming franchise, with more than 21 million players jumping in to the game through the end of FY 2017. Our creative teams, with the benefit of data and analytics from our network, delivered The Journey – our new story mode in FIFA 17 that has engaged more than 12 million players to date. With story mode having brought in many new players, we also saw more of our players go deeper. Our FIFA Ultimate Team player base grew 13% year-over-year through the end of Q4. Ultimate Team is also the gateway to our esports competitions for both Madden NFL and FIFA. Within the broader Ultimate Team communities, more than 10 million players participated in competitive matches in the first year of our tournaments, and our global spectator audience continues to grow.
In FY 2018, we'll deliver more thrilling experiences that broaden the reach of our major franchises and drive deeper engagement through more ways to play. Our EA SPORTS portfolio continues to have the biggest player community in sports games, and this year we'll add new experiences to grow that audience. Madden NFL 18 is set to be the most innovative Madden title in more than a decade, using the full Frostbite stack to deliver new modes that bring the sport to life in unprecedented ways. FIFA 18 will expand on The Journey and Ultimate Team, and we'll connect to more soccer fans with FIFA as our first title on Nintendo Switch. With new NHL, NBA LIVE and UFC console games, as well as more live events and content for our growing EA SPORTS player base on mobile, our multi-platform EA SPORTS portfolio is set to reach more fans around the world in FY 2018.
Competitive gaming and esports will be a key growth factor for us throughout FY 2018 as we expand the ways that fans can play and watch. Year two of our FIFA and Madden NFL championships will kick off this fall, featuring millions of competitive games through Ultimate Team, deeper partnerships with leagues and teams that add new dimensions to the tournaments, and new venues for our major global championships. Later this year, we'll launch our first Battlefield 1 competition, unlocking the competitive spirit that runs deep in our Battlefield community. We're also continuing to expand our broadcast reach and content portfolio for our growing spectator audience. There is global excitement for our competitions, and this year we'll broadcast our tournaments and add additional programming through more major network partnerships including ESPN, BT Sport, Univision and more.
Total net sales for the year were $4.9 billion, a record. Digital net sales accounted for 61% of this, up 6 percentage points year on year. Extra content was a record $1.3 billion, with Ultimate Team contributing $832 million.The key element remains Ultimate Team, which grew 23% year-on-year, or 29% at constant currency.
Yeah. We're very excited about our esports strategy and what we're doing, and what we saw this year in both FIFA and Madden were significantly higher engagement and monetization inside of Ultimate Team for those competing in esports tournaments.
And again, this isn't just about the big championship tournaments. We run a whole series of events at a grassroots level all the way up to the elite level of tournaments. And so we think about this in a similar way that we think about all sports, which is we want to make stars of all of our players, the novice player as well as the professional player.
And while there will almost certainly be solid revenue generation from broadcast rights, from sponsorship, from advertising, from players and teams and the monetization of those things, the lion share of the revenue will always be the digital transactions that exist in the ecosystem. We see that in leading esports tournaments and leading esports games already.
And what we have seen in FIFA Ultimate Team and Madden Ultimate Team over the past 12 months confirms what our original strategy was, which was we will drive those other things. We will benefit from those other things. The lion share of return will come from the ongoing engagement and live service component that is things like Ultimate Team. And you should expect as we launch other esports games that they will also revolve around a very robust and rich digital ecosystem similar to Ultimate Team.
And in terms of guidance relative to Ultimate Team, the thing to remember that was – two major drivers in FIFA this year were, first, the addition of a story mode in the game. The Journey brought new people into the game and brought those people from the game into Ultimate Team. So it grew the overall base of people playing in Ultimate Team.
The second is the addition of the competitive gaming mode inside of FIFA which, as Andrew mentioned, drove massive engagement around tournaments and around practicing for tournaments.
Both of those styles of change we're going to try to adapt into Madden in one way or another, and you'll see more of that coming in the coming months. But you can assume we've learned a lot of great lessons from FIFA. We'll try to drive Madden Ultimate Team and Madden Competitive Gaming off of similar modes.
But FIFA doesn't sit still. It continues to find new ways to engage people in new modes and new excitement, and as Andrew said, we'll be evolving The Journey in FIFA, which will continue to bring new people into the game, we believe. That's the core.
Now our guidance doesn't anticipate anywhere near the level of growth that we actually achieved this year. We tend to do that each year with FIFA because while it's very predictable based around events, we've continued to surprise ourselves on the upside. So you should trust that it's a rational number in terms of our guidance, but there is growth in there.
TL;DR UT sold more packs than ever by a large margin, Expect The Journey pt 2 in 18 and expect more of a push to competitive UT/FUT champions etc