EA Labels President Frank Gibeau says Electronic Arts will be a completely digital company sooner than you think.
There's no question anymore that the future is digital; all that remains to be determined at this point is when that future is going to arrive. There are obstacles, most obviously the lack of infrastructure needed to bring digital delivery to everyone, but in EA's estimation the era when the bulk of its revenues come digitally is closer at hand than a lot of people think. "It's in the near future. It's coming. We have a clear line of sight on it and we're excited about it," Gibeau told GamesIndustry.
EA has "great relationships" with its retail partners, he said, but added that "the ultimate relationship is the connection that we have with the gamer." And if gamers want to get their stuff digitally - which certainly seems to be the case - then that's how EA is going to offer them.
"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," he said. "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... we're going to be a 100 percent digital company, period. It's going to be there some day. It's inevitable."
He also claimed that NPD sales figures, which have painted a rather dismal picture of the industry in recent months, are "totally irrelevant" these days because they focus solely on retail numbers. "We don't even really look at [NPD sales figures] internally anymore. We're more focused on our services and how we're connected with consumers," he said. "[The industry is] growing. It's booming. It's big. Things are good. If cloud and streaming come on line at scale, we'll be in the position to do it and we're excited about it."