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‘Rings,’ Bond games boost EA Q4 revenue

H'wood vidgames each score $50 mil in revenue

Million-plus sales for two Lord of the Rings games and a new James Bond game helped drive Electronic Arts in a holiday quarter where it saw modest declines compared with last year.

Vidgame giant brought in $1.4 billion in revenue in the fourth quarter, third in its fiscal calendar, down 3% from a year ago. Net income was $375 million, a 4% drop.

Role-playing game “Lord of the Rings: The Third Age,” PC strategy game “Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle Earth,” and Bond actioner “Goldeneye: Rogue Agent” all sold more than a million units each last quarter, meaning they generated at least $50 million in gross revenue each.

That’s likely to translate into sizable royalties for Hollywood licensors New Line and MGM.

EA’s biggest seller of the year, though, was “Need for Speed Underground 2.” Company said the car-racing game sold more than 8.4 million copies, which translates into over $400 million in gross revenue and makes it one of the year’s bestselling titles along with Microsoft’s “Halo 2” and Rockstar’s “Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.”

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As with many consumer products, the holiday quarter is critical for the vidgame industry. EA brought in approximately one-third of its projected revenue for the fiscal year in those three months.

During the quarter, EA spent $90 million to acquire 20% of French vidgame publisher Ubisoft. EA hasn’t yet revealed whether it plans to acquire its competitor over or has other plans, but Ubisoft execs have said they regard EA’s move as hostile and plan to attempt to fend off any takeover attempt.

For the fiscal year ending March 31, EA plans to bring in between $3.275 billion and $3.325 billion, up from $2.95 billion last year. Diluted earnings per share are expected to be between $1.82 and $1.87, consistent with last year’s $1.87.

EA shares closed down slightly at $57.54 Tuesday before earnings were announced.