A leading EA executive has predicted the death of High Street games retail within ten years.
"We know that packaged goods work today, and the majority of our current revenue comes from that," EA Games’ executive VP Patrick Soderlund told CVG.
"That’s still a viable business model. But in the long term we’ll see more and more people gravitate to downloaded content. I think it’s going to be sooner than people think. I think it’s going to be sooner than ten years."
Soderlund did, however, acknowledge that physical hangs on in the minds of some, but doesn’t accept that a transition to digital-only would isolate any particular sector.
"I happen to think that there’s something about physical content, like books, that’s collectable and satisfying to own," he added.
"I still want physical content but I’m not part of the new generation of gamers. I remember a time when I bought a cartridge and excitedly read the manual on my way home, imagining what the game was going to be like. Maybe kids don’t have that anymore.
"The distribution method won’t change how games are advertised or marketed, just how they are delivered to customers. My 96 year-old grandmother plays Cut the Rope and World of Warcraft. Honestly I don’t think there’s a digital barrier for the causal audience any more," he said.
EA has been banging the digital drum plenty as of late.
In July EA Labels boss Frank Gibeau spoke of a near future when EA no longer sold physical product.
"It’s in the near future. It’s coming. We have a clear line of sight on it and we’re excited about it,” he said. For us, the fastest growing segment of our business is clearly digital and clearly digital services and ultimately Electronic Arts, at some point in the future, we’re going to be a 100 per cent digital company, period.
It’s going to be there some day. It’s inevitable."
And of the more immediate future, COO Peter Moore foresees EA’s digital revenue overtaking physical revenue within the next two to three years.