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paidContent 50: The world’s most successful digital media companies

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39. Electronic Arts

Games, United States (Public)

Last year’s rank: #26

Digital Content Revenue

$1,070,000,000 (29% of total)

Digital Snapshot

The big dog in the gaming park, EA is known for its licensed sports franchises for boxed games like FIFA, which alone has made it over $5 billion in revenue to date. But, in a gaming market challenged by spiralling production costs and the waning of the current console cycle, the firm has pared back its tier-A release schedule from 67 in 2009 and 54 in 2010 to 36 in 2011. It expects to release just 22 big-budget games in 2012. Gaming’s momentum is not with plastic discs but with online distribution, mobile and social gaming.

Key Move

EA fired further in to gaming’s truly digital future — to gain more control, more direct consumer revenue and cheaper production and distribution costs. After acquiring the relatively small social games maker Playfish, EA sold $743 million in games online in 2011, which was 42 percent more than the previous year. Though console makers, app stores and networks like Facebook control much of this distribution, EA also launched its own store for PC and mobile games, Origin, picking up 11 million members and $150 million in download sales in 10 months. Meanwhile, EA’s Stars Wars: The Old Republic online game became the genre’s number-two title, with 1.7 million active subscribers. All of this helped slim EA’s losses, but the games publisher purists love to hate is still in the red.

Our Methodology

Although games on discs are inherently digital, we are not counting themx and are interested in the new worlds of digital distribution, mobile and social gaming, etc. EA stated it made this much from extra online game content, full-game downloads, mobile games and subscription, ads and other digital revenue.

Source: Q4 2012 slides

— RA

21 Responses to “paidContent 50: The world’s most successful digital media companies”

  1. Good Job Mr. Robert

    I am a freelancing SEO and SMM professional. The recent update of google penguin and panda has changed the SEO pattern radically.

    And google has done this algorithm change to spread their digital ads business nothing than this.

    I really hate this because, making loss to others for their own profit is a Digital Crime and Weak Business policy from my view. Check my site Arsenal Highlights

  2. ciaranj

    If you want to rank things on revenue, fine. But then don’t call it the ‘Most Succesful List’: Microsoft might ‘make’ $3.9b on digital content, but it also loses around $3b every year too.

  3. Abdallah Al-Hakim

    I think this is a terrific list despite any reservations some people have about the methodology. It really demonstrates the huge growth potential of digital media companies in some of the emerging markets. Also, as a scientist – I note Elsevier being top 5 in revenue (Elsevier is publisher behind many of the top scientific journals).

  4. Mindbendingpuzzles

    What about Valve and their digital games platform: Steam. I know they are a private company and figures are hard to come by but in 2011 Forbes reckoned they have more than 50% of the 4 billion dollar PC games download market. That is huge.

    I would really love to see Paid Content do some investigation on Valve because they are an incredibly innovative company who really push digital retailing to its limits.

  5. Groupon and Monster are’t really media companies. I’m not even sure that ad agencies should qualify in the same category as Viacom or Time Warner. Totally different business model.

  6. Brendan

    Why is eBay not in this list? They have an ad business on and their classified sites, and the seller fees they collect are essentially paid ads since the platform doesn’t handle the items. This list is also missing Alibaba Group from China (including Taobao), and Gree from Japan.

  7. Zato Gibson

    “Creating this list wasn’t easy.”

    I can imagine. Manipulating the numbers to get Microsoft into the top 10 must have been really tough.