FIFA 19 for the PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch may be the biggest selling console game during the calendar year of 2018 for EA in Europe, but it still fell short of the company's estimates. What's more is, the reason for the shortfall is FIFA 18. So much so that last year's game cannibalised sales of FIFA 19, a fact which EA acknowledged in its quarterly earnings call, stating that converting those FIFA 18 buyers to FIFA 19 has been tougher than anticipated. No surprise when you consider that the prices of these games are rather high and that polished, free-to-play options exist.
"Our plans for FIFA 18 were aggressive in a World Cup year, and we ended up selling an additional 2.4 million units of FIFA 18 throughout the year with the intention of converting those plays to FIFA 19 when it launched," said Andrew Wilson, EA's CEO during the company's earnings call. "The conversion has been slower than planned, leading to unit sales that were effectively flat year-over-year."
Furthermore, EA CFO Blake Jorgensen added:
"Life to date, FIFA 19 full game unit sales are roughly flat to FIFA 18 and slightly below our expectations," he said. "We believe the underperformance was driven by the intense competition throughout the year. It is possible that the success of World Cup promotions pulled FIFA 19 sales into FIFA 18, given that during Calendar 2018, we sold more copies of FIFA than ever before. The fiscal year-to-date sales of FIFA 19 are approximately 20 million units, and we've sold over three million units of FIFA 18 this fiscal year too. And as Andrew said, FIFA 19 was the best-selling console game in Europe in the Calendar 2018."
That said, Wilson called out the rising popularity of its expanded FIFA Global series, snagging 80 percent more total minutes compared to last fiscal year. Plus, FIFA Ultimate Team continues to be a bright spot with January 2019 having its "most successful team-of-the-year event ever."
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