Electronic Arts, the No. 1 video-game publisher, is poised to unveil a series of Internet initiatives that may boost its profit and stock price, analysts and investors said.
While company executives declined to comment on the plans, chief financial officer Stan McKee has been telling investors that Electronic Arts wants to get 20 percent of its sales from online sources within three years. That could equal several hundred million dollars a year for the Redwood City, California, company, which had $1.2 billion in sales for fiscal 1998.
Electronic Arts has actually made money on a small scale with its first Internet-only title, Ultima Online, a role-playing game. The game, introduced in 1997, has 125,000 subscribers each paying $10 a month and was recently introduced in Europe. Rival Sony's EverQuest online game has a similar audience.
Electronic Arts is quietly working on several subscription-based games similar to Ultima Online and said two weeks ago that it's developing one of the titles with closely held Wizards of the Coast, makers of the addictive card-collecting game Magic: The Gathering.