The senior vice president of EA's digital division has claimed that the importance of the relationship between publishers and retail is eroding.
Specifically, he believes that the rise of digital has allowed publishers to form a closer, more direct relationship with consumers that is far more important”.
We're clearly going from boxed products to digital services. We're going from up-front business models to games where the up-front cost is smaller and smaller, where there are free to play games out there," Kristian Segerstrale told an audience at the 2012 Game Marketing Summit, as reported by Gamasutra.
"With this shift, our relationship with our consumer sometimes becomes more important than our relationship with the [retail] channels.
"No longer is the event of picking up a game tied to monetization. We're going to see a decoupling of those things. You need to think of it like a consumer internet business, where acquisition is just the beginning," he said.
"And rather than having one side of the company making games and other getting them to consumers, now the whole company needs to take part in those processes."
Defenders of the retail model maintain that the real-life shopping experience will persist purely because of consumer demand. Segerstrale disagrees.
"The games industry isn't alone in this transformation we're seeing,” he added. Music and movies have also made the digital switch. Sure, the business models have changed, but the consumer experience is vastly superior."