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Electronic Arts sees bright digital future despite loss

by Staff Writers
San Francisco (AFP) Feb 1, 2011
US videogame giant Electronic Arts (EA) on Tuesday reported a deepened loss in the last quarter but saw a bright future as players opt increasingly for online play and digital downloads.

The Northern California-based firm posted a net loss of $322 million on net revenue $1.05 billion in the quarter ending December 31 as compared with a loss of $82 million on revenue of $1.24 billion in the same period a year earlier.

The performance topped Wall Street expectations, causing the company's stock price to jump nearly nine percent to $17.02 per share in trading that followed release of the earnings figures.

"We are pleased to report another strong quarter," said EA chief executive John Riccitiello.

"Our $600 million stock buyback demonstrates our confidence in EA's digital strategy."

Net revenue from videogame sales in the forms of digital downloads online climbed to $195 million in the quarter from $133 million in the same period a year earlier, according to EA.

Meanwhile, revenue from videogames sold as "packaged goods" in real-world stores tumbled.

EA reported a 39 percent increase in digital sales and was "tracking toward" its target of $750 million revenue in the category for the fiscal year, according to chief financial officer Eric Brown.

EA was the top publisher in Western markets for at Apple's online App Store for software for iPhones, iPads, or iPod touch devices.

The company was also claimed the title as the leading Western markets publisher of games for play on Sony PlayStation 3 and Microsoft Xbox 360 consoles.

earlier related report
China gives parents control of kids' online gaming
Shanghai (AFP) Feb 1, 2011 - Chinese authorities have ordered online video game operators to allow parents to monitor their children's playing sessions as part of a nationwide crackdown on the growing problem of Internet addiction.

The Ministry of Public Security was one of eight government departments that issued a joint notice on Monday ordering online gaming companies to comply with the new guidelines by March 1.

Upon proving their identity, parents will be able to put daily or weekly restrictions on their child's game playing time, the notice said. They would also have the option of putting in place a total ban.

Some parents and experts however expressed doubts that the order would be effective.

"It's unnecessary and it will prompt more rebelliousness from the children," Xie Guangji, the father of a 14-year-old boy in Cangzhou in northern Hebei province, was quoted as telling the China Daily newspaper.

Gu Jun, a sociologist at Shanghai University, said the order seemed unfeasible and a recipe for family conflicts.

"It's a governmental gesture rather than an efficient solution," Gu told the newspaper.

The notice also spelled out that online game companies had a responsibility to help parents restrict "inappropriate" video game playing.

It urged game operators to employ special staff to assist with the project and to set up web pages and hotlines.

The document suggested children should spend less than two hours a week playing online games and should spend no more than 10 yuan ($1.50) on online games a month.

The number of teenage Internet addicts in China has risen to 33 million, the China Daily reported, citing the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, a government think-tank.

Concerns over Internet addiction have spurred a new industry, with unlicensed Internet treatment centres springing up around China.

Last year, two web "boot camp" instructors were sentenced to up to 10 years in prison after a 15-year-old was beaten to death at a treatment facility in the southern region of Guangxi.

At another rehabilitation centre in east China's Jiangsu province, 14 youths staged a mutiny in June, tying up their instructor and fleeing the facility over its tough military-like techniques, state media reported.

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Google offers Street View art gallery tours
London (AFP) Feb 1, 2011
Art lovers will be able to stroll through some of the world's most famous galleries at the click of a mouse after Google put the venues online Tuesday using Street View technology. In a collaboration with 17 leading galleries in nine countries, the US Internet giant has taken equipment from the cars it used to map cities and recorded the galleries so they can be enjoyed by anyone with web ac ... read more

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