EA’s Star Wars Game Scores 1.7 Million Subscribers in First Month

The results are in and it appears that both Star Wars and Battlefield 3 helped Electronic Arts beat expectations for the final three months of the year.

Its multi-million dollar investment in Star Wars: The Old Republic, is starting to pay off.

In EA’s third quarter, the massively multi-player online game generated 1.7 million active subscribers and sold more than two million units in a little over one month.

Is that enough units sold to call off the critics?

In an interview, EA’s CFO Eric Brown said he thought so. “We were able to sell more units beyond what we were able to plan, and because of that, it was a big part of the upside of our EPS of 99 cents a share,” he said.

The company said non-GAAP diluted earnings per share, which excludes acquisition costs and other non-cash items, totaled 99 cents, exceeding its guidance of up to 95 cents, and exceeding analyst expectations of 93 cents.

The company’s non-GAAP revenues also exceeded estimates, totaling $1.65 billion, which was slightly above the top end of internal guidance and the $1.61 billion that analysts were looking for.

Additionally, its big first-person shooter, Battlefield 3, performed well.

To date, Brown said the game has sold 11 million units, and that it was able to gain 12 points of market share in the category year over year. “It’s an incredible success,” he said.

Still, in after-hours trading, the company’s stock continued to slip, dropping 4.3 percent, or 79 cents, to $17.65 a share.

The company’s fourth-quarter outlook suggests that it will not be able to sustain the levels seen at the end of the quarter. It predicts that non-GAAP revenue will be between $925 million and $975 million, and earnings per share will fall between 10 cents and 20 cents.

In the third quarter, EA’s GAAP revenues, which follow all accounting standards, totaled $274 million. Its loss per share was 62 cents, weighed down by the acquisition of PopCap as well as other expenses.

Brown said it was also worth calling out that its digital revenues for the 12 months ended in December hit $1.07 billion, exceeding the company’s goal of hitting $1 billion in digital revenues by March.

Digital revenues in the quarter grew 79 percent year over year with the assistance of Star Wars and digital revenue coming from Battlefield 3, he said.

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