The Australian Financial Review has a profile on EA CEO Andrew Wilson, the young Aussie mover and shaker who kicked a few goals for the FIFA franchise before being promoted to the top spot. It just so happens Wilson is doing even better than the bosses of the big four banks.
Somewhere around the area of $20 million, in fact — and it looks like he deserves it. The share price figures from when he took over in September 2013 are making me imagine investors' mouths water. They must be looking at him like Wile E. Coyote looks at the Roadrunner, in the shape of fine meat products.
The profile fawns over his "hard days" a bit. He used to work like a real person! He used to fly economy class! But there's no doubt that when he was in charge of FIFA, the franchise had its best years, and after he was gone, it acquired some very odd priorities. All of a sudden, meaningful gameplay improvements were replaced with cosmetic crap like making sure the goalposts moved when hit. As the article notes, Wilson brought FIFA to be a full third of EA's revenue.
The unanswered question is, how much of that is Ultimate Team?
According to the Review, Wilson's main goal now is to bring EA into the digital generation. And if you trust the tone of the article, that's already been a success, though I'm sure Kotakuers will have mixed opinions on EA's digital strategies. We've already had a big discussion about Battlefront and Titanfall's absent longevity. The last Sim City is still a sore point for many people, even if Cities: Skylines filled that void.
But elsewhere, you can't argue that it's working for them. As much as I loathe it, Ultimate Team is a huge earner, and many Youtubers who previously didn't care about FIFA are now all about the coins. In the mode's early days, I mathematically proved it was pay-to-win — but being respected isn't the same as being profitable.
Still more people will buy extra tracks in Rock Band, and fans of franchises like the Simpsons, Star Wars, or the UFC will hand over money without a second look.
That sort of change, which has brought digital revenue from nearly zero to over half, led Wedbush Securities equity research managing director Michael Pachter to say Wilson has done a "nearly flawless job".