EA predicts an annual 5% digital shift for full games for foreseeable future

Digital shift has been going on for a while, but it’s always intriguing when the world’s biggest publisher of games provides some figures on how it’s all progressing. EA CFO Blake Jorgensen said last night that the industry is close to 40 per cent for digital full game sales and "I think at a minimum we should see five points of increase each year and hopefully it’s greater than that."

Based on that prediction the games industry will have shifted entirely to digital full game sales in around 12 years. Though obviously it’s a little more complex than that.

That said, Jorgensen doesn’t see that shift slowing soon: "We don’t see a cap any time soon because we know more-and-more players are realizing it’s a more convenient, easy and engaging way to play."

Across the EA portfolio, on both PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, 37 per cent of its full-game sales were digital over the last 12 months. That’s up, predictably, from 32 per cent last year.

There were more figures for specific titles in EA’s lineup. Battlefront 2 was 28 per cent digital up 12 points from its predecessor two years ago, and so outperforming the typical shift, if still lagging behind the pack. That’s likely due to its hige mainstream appeal, something that Jorgenson says applies to FIFA.

"We skew a little lower due to the global nature of FIFA and then also battlefront 2 … primarily due to the gift giving and a younger audience base."

It’s great news for EA of course, for the time being at least, with digital sales now making up 67 per cent of its business over the last 12 months, compared to 60% for the previous year. With digital sales up 12 per cent year-on-year, hitting a new record in the third-quarter.

Digital net bookings were $1.23 billion, up 12% on a year-over-year period and a new record for the third quarter. The main driver of this increase was live services, offset by lower sales of Star Wars Battlefront 2 compared to Battlefield 1. Digital net bookings now represent 67% of our business on a trailing 12 months basis compared to 60% in the prior year.

Summing up its future position, it’ll continue to push digtial hard, apparently at the expense of physical stores.

"Many players have been already buying extra content and thus have digital purchases as part of their overall game play. And we believe the consumer will ultimately default towards convenience however that might be, it might be they still have store around the corner from him, or it might be that he doesn’t and it’s easy for them to buy digitally. But you’ll see us continue to do things to try to encourage people to buy digitally and we think that’s still major key as part of the future business."

In the same Q3 earnings call EA also announced it was delaying Anthem to 2019.

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