Tuesday, February 28, 2017

CCP Financials, Best Year Ever?

Looks like we won't have to wait for CCP to submit their financial statement to the Icelandic taxing authorities to find out how well the company did financially in 2016. CCP had an eventful first day at GDC 2017 in San Francisco. In addition to introducing Sparc, the Tron-like game formerly known as Project Arena, CCP's CEO, Hilmar Veigar Pétursson, announced that 2016 was a very good year for the Icelandic game studio:
The most recent financial results, announced today, report an uptick of around 30% in revenues - up to $86,135,976 in FY 2016 from $65,703,397 in 2015. EBIDTA sits at $38,935,538 (45% of revenue). DAU for EVE online doubled during this period, ARPU is up 20%. CCP's heavy investment in a nascent VR industry is pretty much breaking even already. Not bad for a company running one of the most niche games ever created. So how does a 13 year-old, notoriously complex MMO produce figures like these?

"I would say it's been three milestone moments," CEO Hilmar Veigar Pétursson tells me when I ask what's driving growth. "It was the opening up of skill trading at the beginning of the year, then the release of Citadel, and the transition to open access, all of which were phenomenally successful. They address different aspects of the game. The Citadel really opened up the kind of higher-end gameplay, top of the pyramid aspirational goals and shenanigans that Eve is known for, while still kind of providing a bit of a spectacle for earlier players. So it's not only content for the major alliances. It goes across the whole spectrum."
Was 2016 CCP's best year ever? Last year's $86.1 million in revenue beat FY 2013's $76.7 million in revenue, with the added bonus of turning a profit. In 2013, CCP posted a $21.3 million loss.

The EBIDTA number looks strong. EBIDTA stands for "earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization. From 2015 to 2016, the EBIDTA number jumped 25.6%, from $30,980,618 to $38,935,538. In 2014, the EBIDTA was only $9,720,723.

Now, for some time, I have maintained that one cannot just look at the number of subscriptions to judge EVE Online's financial success. Over the past few years, CCP has actively made game design decisions that incentivised players to drop some of their accounts, relying on picking up additional revenue in other ways. The 20% increase in the average revenue per user (ARPU) indicates that items such as SKINs and skill extractors are providing an extra boost to the existing sales of PLEX. If I understand the definition of the ARPU correctly, the figure includes trial accounts and the new alpha accounts introduced in November.

I am still curious to see CCP's financial report to see other items like the status of loans and how much is brought in by the game. Still, the future looks pretty bright for CCP, at least for the next few years.

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