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Last Updated: Friday, 23 July, 2004, 10:46 GMT 11:46 UK
Potter magic helps EA to prosper
Screenshot from Fight Night, EA
Fight Night was a big seller for EA
Harry Potter has helped video game giant Electronic Arts post unexpectedly good financial results.

The game based on the boy wizard's third adventure helped EA report profits 32% higher than for the same period last year.

In the three months to 30 June, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Fight Night 2004 and Uefa Euro 2004, all sold more than a million copies.

Revenue for the quarter was $432m (233m) against $353m (191m) in 2003.

Profits for the period were $24m compared to $18.4m last year.

Potter power

EA said demand for the best-selling games, all of which were released during the quarter, was strongest in Europe.

Sales in Europe climbed 49% during the period, compared to a rise of 22% in the Asia Pacific region and 6% in North America.

Of the trio, Harry Potter was the biggest seller with more than 2.5m copies of it purchased during the first quarter.

Screenshot from Harry Potter and the prisoner of Azkaban, EA
Biggest seller was Harry Potter
As well as new games doing well, EA said that some older titles were proving popular.

In the three months to 30 June, the seven-millionth copy of racing game Need for Speed Underground was sold.

EA was also confident that the good news would continue in its second quarter.

It said that early interest in NCAA Football 2005 and Madden NFL 2005 were both at record levels.

But despite the improved profits and revenues, shares in EA fell by more than 2% in late trading because projected sales for the second quarter were not in line with analyst expectations. Traders also expect that EA will face more competition from rivals such as Sega.

One cost that did rise during the game makers first quarter was spending on research and development.

Preparing for the next generation of consoles, due in 2005 and 2006, bumped the research costs by 43%.

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