Hope you're not afraid of change, Mr. Aging Gamer.
Analysts and industry insiders have often predicted that the video game industry will eventually become all digital in terms of distribution. Most agree this is a ways off, but EA claims they'll be "100% digital" in the "near future."
During a Games Industry interview , EA Label boss Frank Gibeau said that although regular retail will continue to be a part of their business, the digital age is nigh. His comments come not long after EA experienced its first $1 billion+ year in regards to digital sales. Said Gibeau:
"It's in the near future. It's coming. We have a clear line of sight on it and we're excited about it. Retail is a great channel for us. We have great relationships with our partners there. At the same time, the ultimate relationship is the connection that we have with the gamer. If the gamer wants to get the game through a digital download and that's the best way for them to get it, that's what we're going to do. It has a lot of enhancements for our business. It allows us to keep more that we make. It allows us to do some really interesting things from a service level standpoint; we can be a lot more personalized with what we're doing."
The good news is that they really won't abandon brick-and-mortar retailers tomorrow. The option will simply be there for those who want to go the digital route. It's just that from EA's standpoint, the fastest-growing aspect of their company is in the digital realm, so the shift is basically inevitable.
"But if customers want to buy a game at retail, they can do that too. We'll continue to deliver games in whatever media formats make sense and as one ebbs and one starts to flow, we'll go in that direction," Gibeau continued. "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 – much like your question about streaming and cloud – we're going to be a 100% digital company, period. It's going to be there some day. It's inevitable."
Hey, so like…remember the GameBoy? I do. It's in the next room. I kinda like it. …yes, yes, I know; games are vastly superior today. But digital will never be superior to physical, I say.