Sat. Mar 2nd, 2024

Though wild speculation around metaverses has calmed somewhat in the last year, the idea is far from dead, with a number of companies still hard at work trying to find ways to integrate all their properties into one massive, interconnected space. The latest to discuss these ideas is Electronic Arts, with CEO Andrew Wilson responding to a question during today’s earnings call about a potential EA Sports metaverse with what sounds a heck of a lot like a concrete plan to make one in the near future.

During the Q&A portion, Wilson was asked if he had ever thought about “taking all of your siloed sport communities and thinking about a way to bring them all together” to “just sort of create, for lack of a better word, a metaverse?”

To this, Wilson gave a lengthy response outlining a whole lot of reasons why a publisher like EA might consider doing exactly that. He began by reiterating the enormity of the EA player community: over 700 million players, about half of which interact with the sports catalog in some way. EA Sports itself is, per Wilson, “one of the most recognizable and recognized sports brands.” And the upcoming generations Z and Alpha, he continued, often use EA Sports as an entry point to a love of sports in general.

“What we know to be true right now is our players spend on average about 90 minutes a session inside one of our games. They then leave that game experience where they’ve been deeply connected with their core friend unit, then they go and talk about that experience on another platform, then they go and create content about that experience on yet another platform, then finally they go and watch that content on another platform. We do believe we have a meaningful opportunity over the coming years to harness the power of that community both inside and outside of our games, which is really the third pillar of our core strategy, and will be led by our EA Sports brand.”

Wilson then reiterated that while he had nothing to announce today, EA sees “an incredible opportunity” in all these interconnected relationships between EA Sports’ popularity, how players behave within it and outside of it, and how it can interact with other experiences. “So best I can say is: watch this space,” he concluded.

While speculation on the metaverse has cooled in the last year, Wilson’s strategy seems far more tactical and focused than some of the more grandiose metaverse propostions floated by companies like Epic and Meta in the past. And his remarks are unshocking in light of the company’s continued EA Sports success. In today’s earnings report, EA reported net bookings of $2.37 billion and net revenue of $1.945 billion for the quarter ending on December 31, 2023, largely driven by EA Sports FC outperforming expectations with 7% year-over-year growth. Madden also remains a moneymaker, bringing in 5% year-over-year net bookings growth. And that doesn’t even get into its other properties: NHL, UFC, F1, PGA Tour, WRC, and the long-awaited EA Sports College Football. With its live services now consisting of 73% of EA’s business, it’s no surprise that EA would want to find ways to capitalize on that power, especially now that it’s proven it doesn’t need the FIFA name attached to succeed.

Rebekah Valentine is a senior reporter for IGN. Got a story tip? Send it to rvalentine@ign.com.

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