据游戏邦了解，EA今年的数字游戏销售额有望达到7.5亿美元，占公司总营收的五分之一，这一点引起了一些投资者的注意。加百利全球多媒体信托公司（Gabelli Global Multimedia Trust）投资基金副经理拉里·哈弗蒂（Larry Haverty）认为，EA是手机游戏上市公司中最好的投资对象。
Zynga虽然是社交游戏巨头，但目前仍未上市导致许多投资者无从下手。近年来，投资者对掌机、电视领域的传统游戏发行业务的热情已经开始降温，EA这个全球第二大游戏发行商、《疯狂橄榄球》（Madden NFL）和《虚拟人生》（The Sims）的发行公司在该领域的业务锐减，就是一个绝好的现身说法。
不过分析师认为，EA在手机和社交游戏领域的收购行为，有可能让它快速恢复元气。据游戏邦所知，EA先后在2009年出手4亿美元收购了社交游戏公司Playfish，在去年以2000万美元收购了手机游戏《糖果小怪物》（Cut the Rope）的英国发行商Chillingo。
ThinkEquity 分析师Atul Bagga表示，因为社交和手机游戏领域人气不断上升，投资者可能会更看好EA。
游戏邦还获知，EA在今年底还将面向数字游戏市场推出《星球大战：旧共和国》（Star Wars: The Old Republic）这款大型多人游戏，支持成千上万的玩家在同一个虚拟太空中共同作战。这款游戏的主要竞争对手是Activision Blizzard旗下的《魔兽世界》（World of Warcraft），锁定的是硬核游戏玩家。但布朗认为这款游戏对《星球大战》的影迷来说也会很有吸引力。
EA在多个平台的发行业务都很活跃，《Scrabble》这款游戏在iPad平台售价9.99美元，支持玩家组团与Facebook用户跨平台作战。该游戏在2010年假期季一举超越《龙文身的女孩》（Girl with The Dragon Tattoo），成为亚马逊应用商店Kindle的下载冠军。
Analysis: EA wins new friends with social, mobile games
EA is the top publisher of games by revenue on Apple Inc’s (AAPL.O) iPad and iPhone, and is concentrating more on its digital business. Sales of the more costly packaged games, like its “Tiger Woods PGA Tour” golf game, have taken a beating since the beginning of the recession.
This year, EA’s digital business could make $750 million in sales, about a fifth of its revenue and enough to draw notice from investors seeking exposure to hot trends in mobile and social games.
“EA is probably the best way for an investor in public companies like myself to buy into the mobile game business,” said Larry Haverty, associate portfolio manager of the $162 million Gabelli Global Multimedia Trust, which owns EA shares.
The top company in social gaming, Zynga, is hot, but privately held, meaning most investors have been locked out.
Investors have been pulling back from traditional game publishers, those that come up with action and sports games that people play on consoles and TV sets.
EA, the second-largest publisher and the company behind well-known franchises such as “Madden NFL” and “The Sims,” is a good example.
A retail sales slowdown forced it to cut costs and scale back its packaged titles to about 35 this fiscal year, compared with 50 or more games a year earlier. A stock that traded as high as $51 in 2008 is today trading closer to $15.
Analysts say its fortunes may improve as acquisitions in mobile and social gaming pay off. EA bought Playfish, a social gaming company, in 2009 in a deal worth up to $400 million. It bought Chillingo, which publishes the popular “Cut The Rope” mobile game, in October for $20 million.
“As social games and the mobile business become more prevalent, investors are going to give more credit to EA,” said ThinkEquity Analyst Atul Bagga.
Compared to packaged games, revenue from digital games remains small. But analysts say that side of the business offers growth. EA also dipped into that market as far back as 2005, when it paid $680 million for mobile games maker Jamdat.
EA’s digital business may grow more than 30 percent this year, while offering higher margins than its packaged products. That is because digital games costs less to produce and distribute than games that must be manufactured and shipped before people can play them on a console.
“This is one of the fastest growing areas of our business and we’re driving to a billion and beyond in digital revenue,” Chief Financial Officer Eric Brown said in an interview. He declined to provide a timeframe for that forecast.
A catalyst for EA’s digital business could be the release later this year of the massive multiplayer game “Star Wars: The Old Republic.” Multiplayer games can support hundreds or thousands of players who teem in a simulated universe.
Positioned to compete with Activision Blizzard’s (ATVI.O) “World of Warcraft,” the Star Wars game targets a more hardcore gaming audience. Yet Brown said it will still have the mass appeal of the Star Wars movies.
EA has spread its games across a variety of new platforms. On its version of Scrabble, which sells for $9.99 on the iPad, users play matches on devices against opponents on Facebook.
During the holiday season in 2010, Scrabble was the No. 1 download on Amazon’s (AMZN.O) Kindle, outselling The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo, based on the popular crime novel by late Swedish author Stieg Larsson.
“It’s only an opportunity that things like the iPad, tablets and iPhones come to market because it just gives us a greater chance to show off our games,” said Barry Cottle, EA’s head of social, mobile and online gaming.
Brown, the chief financial officer, said EA’s digital portfolio is something “people are starting to wake up to.”
“The market is slowly but surely moving in our direction,” he said.（source:reuters）