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EA's Non-GAAP Figures: PC Beating Consoles

This is what profits look like. Mmmmm, profits.

EA did one of their financial phonecalls last night. I’m so glad I don’t have to do those, telling lots of people I don’t know that I spent all my money on gadgets and Chinese takeaway. But within their announcements that The Old Republic is out-pre-ordering even Battlefield 3, there was one even juicier tidbit of information. When measured by EA’s non-GAAP accounting methods, PC is making them more money than either console.

If you’re not familiar with the difference between GAAP and non-GAAP profits, then that’s another thing you and I have in common. But it seems to be that non-GAAP is the type of accounting that allows a bit more imagination, including “future value” of new contracts, potential, goodwill, and all that sort of rather speculative money. However, while this way of thinking can lead to the rather silly over-valuation of certain well known social networking companies, it’s also a measure often preferred by investors over the straight creases and carefully knotted ties of official GAAP methods. RPS is the sort of site that approves of the free-wheeling, daisy-twirling ways of non-GAAP monies, and so it is that we’re rather pleased to see the PC shining so brightly in those hippy fields.

EA’s Q1 FY12 Financial Results can be read here, if you can control yourself. And inside them they reveal that their “trailing twelve month non-GAAP digital revenue $854 million, up 34% year-over-year”, which sounds jolly good.

They also report that Portal 2 sold over two million copies in the first quarter, while Crysis 2 sold “approximately” (read: just under) three million so far. Oops – commenter thesisko points out that these are numbers shipped. Selling two million in their lifetimes are Dead Space 2 and Dragon Age 2. Which are nothing compared to FIFA 11 (including mobile nonsense) selling nearly 15 million copies, and Bad Company 2 shifting over nine million.

And then come the non-GAAP revenue figures. It’s all bloody confusing, really. But it breaks down to the 360 bringing in $152m, the PS3 coughing up $111m, and the PC ruling the roost with $154m. This breaks down to the PC and 360 both providing 29% of total non-GAAP revenue, while the PS3 offers 21%. The rest is made up by Wii (3%), PS2 (1%), mobile (11%), PSP (1%), DS (1%) and the mysterious “other” at 4%.

If you look at the more accountable accounting of the GAAP figures, the PC trails with $205m to the 360’s $345m and PS3’s $308m. But we’re not. Because we prefer the numbers where the PC is doing better. Especially since GAAP figures require the following of certain principles: regularity, consistency, sincerity, permanent with methods, non-compensatory, prudent, continuous, periodic, fully disclosed and with utmost good faith. Much more fun to think at least one of those isn’t being followed. (The real definition of EA’s non-GAAP ways are listed in the document.)

Whatever numbers you stare at, the reality is that the PC is doing extremely well. Not “quite well considering”, but actually ahead of consoles in EA’s mind.

It makes you wonder at the actions of certain other publishers who treat the PC as a second class platform, and quite how big a money-nose they’re so idiotically cutting off their ugly profit-faces.

Huge thanks to Mitch for the tip.

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John Walker

Senior Editor

One of the original co-founding robots of Rock, Paper, Shotgun, I'm now a senior editor and hero of humanity. Old and special.

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