EA Signs Chicharito for FIFA 14

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Electronic Arts (EA) has roped in Mexican soccer star, Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez, to feature him on the cover of FIFA 14, EA’s upcoming game from its FIFA franchise. Lionel Messi, the Argentine soccer star, will also feature on the cover of FIFA 14. EA SPORTS FIFA 14 is slated to release globally in Sep 2013.

Javier Hernandez will don the Mexican national team jersey on the cover. According to the contract, Hernandez will be the brand ambassador of EA SPORTS. EA expects to tap Hernandez’s popularity for marketing and promotional activities and use his brand value to promote the FIFA soccer franchise.

FIFA 14 will be released on Microsoft’s (MSFT) Xbox and Xbox One, Sony’s (SNE) PlayStation (:PS) 3 and the upcoming PS 4. FIFA 14 is being powered by Ignite game engine, which will enhance the gaming experience. Features, such as Pure Shot and Real Ball Physics system, will make every move and shot made by the players feel real.

EA’s marketing strategy of roping in soccer stars has paid off in the past. The company has been constantly innovating new techniques to make sure that its FIFA franchise does not lose its sheen and fan following by integrating new gameplays with every new release.

EA’s earlier version under the FIFA series, FIFA 13, has garnered high Metascore of 90 (Xbox 360), 86 (PC version) and 88 (PS3). Reportedly, over 14.5 million copies of the game were sold, approximately 30% higher than FIFA 12.

We believe that EA’s high-quality titles and a robust product pipeline along with increasing online exposure and traction in the social and mobile gaming market will boost its top line over the long term.

However, we believe that EA faces a number of headwinds that include a soft video game industry performance, particularly due to weakness in retail sales amid an aging console system lifecycle. Additionally, competition from Activision (ATVI) and other gaming companies are the near term headwinds.

Currently, EA has a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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