Games retailers face serious challenges from the disruption created by on-demand content according to EA Sports boss Andrew Wilson.
Speaking this morning in a keynote speech at the Develop conference, he said that despite market growth which meant more gamers than ever were out there, fewer and fewer are going to specialist retailers.
Instead, they are downloading games and playing Facebook games. 45% of revenues made by games in 2010 were digital, said Wilson.
"People are no longer going into GameStop or GAME en masse and paying for content in a quantity," he said, pointing to shorter form games and free titles as drawing players away from retail.
What consumers are really after is on-demand content, he said, pointing to download services and comparable successes in other mediums as proof.
Netflix an Amazon’s Kindle were emblematic of "companies that put control in the hands of the user" and are winning the digital transition as part.
Gamers today want to play their games "the way they consume TV" thanks to a ‘creative distraction curve’ sweeping across all of entertainment.
But Wilson wasn’t prepared to predict the total demise of retail – yet he implied specialists’ days were numbered.
"There is still a business of $60 games sold at GAME and GameStop – that’s still legitimate for now," he said."I won’t predict when that will die. I won’t prophesise when games on discs will go away, because the reality is that as long as gamers continue to line up and buy them we will make them.
"But the amount of people on Facebook, on PSN and Xbox Live is growing. There is a shift here. If we don’t get ahead of it, we will find ourselves in trouble."
He added: "We have seen the Blockbusters and the HMVs change before our eyes. The corporate graveyard is littered with companies, mediums and entities that resisted where the consumer wanted to go."