UNPRECEDENTED DEMAND MAKES ULTIMA ONLINE FASTEST-SELLING INTERNET-ONLY GAME IN HISTORY
Electronic Arts Ships More Than 80,000 Additional Units Worldwide
San Mateo, CA, November 13, 1997 -- Electronic Arts (Nasdaq:ERTS), a leading global interactive entertainment software company, today announced that unparalleled demand from consumers has catapulted Ultima Online to yet another record - the fastest-selling Internet-only game ever. The title is also the most rapidly selling PC game in the company's 15-year history.
Fans have purchased more than 65,000 copies of the game since its September 25th debut, making Ultima Online the top-selling PC adventure/role playing title and the fourth most popular PC title overall for the month of September in retail sales dollars, according to market research firm PC Data. To accommodate consumers anxious to join the action, Electronic Arts (EA) is shipping more than 80,000 additional copies to retailers during the next several weeks.
With more than a third of these units earmarked for consumers located outside the U.S., this represents the first major shipment to international markets. For example, more than 15,000 copies will be sent to Japan, where lines of anxious players recently resulted in retailers exhausting the 5,000 unit inventory in approximately 15 minutes.
"Ultima Online has truly set the standard by which other online games will be judged, from a technology and a sales standpoint," said Jerry Madaio, director of merchandising for PC Products with Electronic Boutique. "The popularity of the single-player Ultima adventures, combined with the word-of-mouth that this undertaking has generated, has made it a difficult product to keep on the shelves."
Ultima Online brings to life the fantasy land of Britannia as a living, persistent, virtual world that exists only on the Internet. Internationally regarded as the most ambitious and widely anticipated online title yet developed, it has been heralded as the future of Internet-based gaming by publications ranging from The New York Times to Next Generation Online.
Ultima Online was designed and developed during the past two years at ORIGIN Systems, EA's subsidiary in Austin, Texas, under the watchful eye of Richard Garriott. The creative genius behind the Ultima series and an internationally acclaimed gaming industry legend, Garriott led a 40-person team of programmers, artists, designers, musicians and testers during the development effort.
Complete with a virtual ecology, economic system, limited natural resources, day/night cycles and an underlying ethical code of behavior, players from around the world live, work and play in Britannia. Ongoing interaction among players and with the world of Britannia at large drives the story line and delivers a new and different experience each time players visit Britannia. Additionally, thousands of computer-generated characters and creatures enhance the player experience by inhabiting this living world 24 hours a day.
The world of Britannia was designed from its inception to be scalable, enabling Ultima Online to provide an enjoyable and engaging experience for thousands of players at the same time. To date, as many as 11,000 players have been in the world of Britannia at one time, with an average number of approximately 5,000 at any one time. Additionally, the average player logs from three to four hours per day.
"Ultima Online has far surpassed our expectations - both from a business standpoint and as a grand social experiment," said Garriott. "In many ways, the land of Britannia mirrors our own. People are flocking to an environment where they can live an alternate existence, launching their own personal and business lives within a virtual world."
Ultima Online's Social Dynamic
As the world of Ultima Online begins its second month in existence, it has provided the industry with an exciting window into the social dynamics of a massively multiplayer online world. Interesting facts include:
Ultima Online's Web site, which features a complete background of the game's online fantasy world, averages 150,000 user sessions per day and approximately eight million hits per week.
Ultima Online comes in packages as unique as the game. The retail version includes one month of unlimited free play, a cloth map of Britannia, collectible pewter lapel pin, game software, AT&T WorldNet(sm) Service with a 30-day introductory period and a copy of Netscape Navigator. It carries a suggested retail price of US$64.95.
ORIGIN Systems develops and publishes state-of-the-art entertainment software. To date, the company has released more than 50 titles, including the award-winning Ultima, Wing Commander, Privateer and Crusader series of games. ORIGIN also develops titles under the Jane's Combat Simulations brand. ORIGIN is based in Austin, Texas, with additional offices in Hunt Valley, Maryland, and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Electronic Arts.
Electronic Arts, headquartered in San Mateo, Calif., is a leading interactive entertainment software company. Founded in 1982, EA posted revenues of $625 million for fiscal 1997. The company develops, publishes and distributes software worldwide for personal computers and advanced entertainment systems. EA has international subsidiaries in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom. The company has North American development operations in San Mateo and Walnut Creek, Calif.; Baltimore, Maryland; Austin, Texas; Seattle, Washington; and Vancouver, British Columbia.
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