Electronic Arts CFO Eric Brown says the advent of digital distribution has put the PC on track to becoming the "largest gaming platform in the world."
Consoles rule the roost when it comes to videogaming. Controllers have long surpassed keyboards and mice as the gamer's weapon of choice and leaning forward to stare at a monitor runs a very distant second to leaning back on a couch in front of a 52" HD television. The sales charts reflect that reality; when a PC game does make the top-ten it's usually either a niche market flash-in-the-pan or World of Warcraft.
Yet in its most recent quarterly earnings call, Eric Brown, Chief Financial Officer at EA, said the growing popularity of digital distribution has given the lowly PC a whole new level of prominence in the company's plans. Brown said the company's year-over-year numbers for digital distribution alone had nearly doubled to $80 million; EA's total "digital direct revenue" grew to $400 million in the previous fiscal year.
"This is a big year for us. The online part of our business is growing as much as 60% year over year," Brown said. "In terms of distribution, the way we look at a lot what's happening in the future is, we've got probably a billion PCs out there in the world. Very rapidly the PC is becoming the largest gaming platform in the world, just not in a packaged-good product."
"As you look at what that means in terms of distribution of product, we think that's incredibly exciting because it's going to open the market to new demographics, new countries and new types of gameplay," he said.
In other words, everybody has a PC; the tricky bit lies in converting people who can play games on their PCs into people who do. Digital distribution is tremendously important because a large part of that potential market would never consider popping into their local EB to see what's new, but handing over a few bucks to download and play something they saw online without having to even step outside the house is a different matter entirely. Consoles are hot stuff but PCs are everywhere and as my mom found out, whether or not we admit it or even know it, deep inside the heart of every PC owner lurks someone who really wants to blow stuff up.