EA's first-quarter revenue and profits were down 4% and 7% year-over-year, respectively standing at $395 and $229 million. The publisher chalked up the relative decline to its new policy of hosting games with online-enabled features for free, which deffered some $36 million in revenue.
Looking forward, Riccitiello etched a silver lining around strong future titles from publishers like Microsoft's Halo 3 (X360) and Take-Two's Grand Theft Auto IV (PS3, X360), saying: "I think it's a double positive, for us and for the industry. Great software sells hardware.
"We were a little careful of the dates we selected to put our products in the marketplace. We wouldn't make that mistake anymore than I would launch an animation movie in the shadow of a Disney-Pixar movie."
One of EA's major Q2 titles, Crytek's gorgeous FPS Crysis (PC), was confirmed as being pushed back to a November release. The move will shift some $60 million in expected revenue into the company's third quarter.
Responding to a question of the company's confidence in Will Wright's upcoming evolution simulator Spore, Riccitiello reiterated the title's release date of next spring.
"Right now it's sort of squarely targeted of March-April-May of next year," he affirmed. "Games like these are so large and so complex that we chose not to put it in our fiscal year release because these dates are pretty hard to predict."
Expressing his confidence in the game, which he labeled as a "breakthrough title" for the industry, Riccitiello assured investors that quality is being stressed over speed--at least in this case.
"We will make the choice of shipping a better game rather than an on-time game," he said.
Spring 08 for spore? that's fine. For a while I thought it was going to be a Q4 2008 release.
I'm kinda surprised at that. Seems early.