EA exec: We'll be '100 percent digital' eventually

Electronic Arts could generate close to $2 billion in digital revenue this year, only further deepening the company's resolve to get out of physical retail.

Electronic Arts is considered a major publisher in the gaming industry. But soon, it might be a major digital publisher in the gaming industry.

Speaking to GamesIndustry.biz in an interview published yesterday, EA Labels President Frank Gibeau said that his company will transition its operation entirely to digital in the not-so-distant future.

"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 percent digital company, period," Gibeau told the gaming publication. "It's going to be there someday. It's inevitable."

EA has increasingly warmed to the idea of digital distribution. The company has a game-download service called Origin , and last year acquired PopCap Games to double down on digital . EA still offers its titles in game stores, like GameStop, of course, but it has said for quite a while now that it believes the future is in digital.

"There will come a day where I think that people will stop going into [U.K. game retailer] Game and GameStop," EA Sports Vice President Andrew Wilson told Eurogamer in an interview last year . "And I use those purely as examples of retail. It's important for retailers and us to understand what the consumer wants in the future."

Wilson's comments came just a couple of months after his boss, EA CEO John Riccitiello, told investors in an earnings call that he planned to "transform EA from a packaged goods company to a fully integrated digital entertainment company."

For EA, it all comes back to economics. The company generated $1.2 billion in digital revenue during its last fiscal year, and expects to see that rise to $2 billion this fiscal year.

Still, Gibeau says his company isn't ready to ditch the physical retail sector just yet. Despite EA's desire to move to an all-digital model, it will be gamers who decide when that happens.

"The ultimate relationship is the connection that we have with the gamer," Gibeau said. "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."

 

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