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EA: "We Will Be 100% Digital, Period"

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.

Added Gibeau:

"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.

Tags: ea, electronic arts, next generation, gaming industry

7/2/2012 8:26:23 PM Ben Dutka

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Comments (26 posts)

AcHiLLiA
Monday, July 02, 2012 @ 9:28:21 PM
Reply

If only we all had super fast internet and at a decent price. I'll be up for it, depending on how big the games are, but I'll always look to see if they have a physical copy first.

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Highlander
Tuesday, July 03, 2012 @ 11:16:59 AM

Indeed. This all digital BS is really grinding on me.

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BTNwarrior
Monday, July 02, 2012 @ 9:54:32 PM
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If they could rework the playstation store to run more like steam, the digital age would truly be among us.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Monday, July 02, 2012 @ 9:59:49 PM

Or just make it less convoluted.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Monday, July 02, 2012 @ 9:59:31 PM
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If they ever want digital to overtake physical so they can keep more of what they make (Not just EA but every publisher) they should pass at least some of those savings onto the consumer. Right now full games go digital once the price comes down, but they could undercut Gamestop's $55 used game price by selling a digital copy for the same or cheaper on release day.

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DjEezzy
Monday, July 02, 2012 @ 10:40:58 PM
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Well still selling in Brick and Mortar stores isn't 100% digital is it?!? LOL. I still think that going all digital will alienate alot of gamers and they will lose alot of business because of it. Thing is not everyone has internet and a lot of those that do don't have great internet. People across the pond and in the middle east and south american countries have horrible broadband!!! Not everyone wants to be connected to the internet at all times and really some of these games that are put on bluray are what 25 gigs or more? Talk about days of downloading just for one game. I honestly think there is a place for digital distribution and as world said, they should discount those games seeing as how they don't have to put it on physical media. I just think they'll be shooting themselves in the foot if they do this too soon. Also, used games are great for people that can't afford new games. I buy new and used. But really i like having that choice. It's my choice. If they eliminate used games entirely then they may lose me as a loyal fan of their products. Thats like saying that you can only buy new cars and you are not able to sell your used car. You have to keep it forever. Just doesn't make sense from a consumer stand point.

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Underdog15
Tuesday, July 03, 2012 @ 1:12:23 PM

Well, if 100% of their products are offered online, they then distribute their products 100% online. They may use other means, but they are still 100% accessible online.

You're used car analogy is cute. :p

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556pineapple
Tuesday, July 03, 2012 @ 1:40:54 AM
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Oh goody! You know I was just thinking, "I'd like to run out of hard drive space after 5-8 major game purchases!" Let's just hope this will be far enough in the future when storage space won't be so limiting. Maybe then I can at least live with the idea.

Last edited by 556pineapple on 7/3/2012 1:41:21 AM

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Beamboom
Tuesday, July 03, 2012 @ 9:44:07 AM

Cloud storage is part of the solution, deleting the games after you are done with them (and download them again if you want to play it again) another.

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Underdog15
Tuesday, July 03, 2012 @ 1:15:00 PM

Beamboom, that is a terrible solution. Cloud means that if my internet is down, or if I go to a place it isn't working, or if I don't have highspeed like many people still cannot access, then I'm out of luck. And suppose I'm a collector. I can no longer have a collection of games since I have to constantly delete stuff?

I have friends that come over that will scan over my collection and try a game they've never seen/tried before. I love that ability to entertain.

Both of those solutions will make being a gamer more restrictive and less enjoyable. Perhaps not for people who always have top notch connectivity that never hiccups, but for some, definitely. It limits accessibility, and that's a big business no-no.

And this is assuming also that no one wants hard copies anymore and everyone WANTS digital.

Last edited by Underdog15 on 7/3/2012 1:16:21 PM

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Beamboom
Tuesday, July 03, 2012 @ 2:59:09 PM

Hey I like my physical library too. I just say how I think it will be.

And I think it will be like that. With cloud storage you don't need to store all files locally, and else it will be like much with your Steam account on a PC or your smart phone for that matter, in that you only keep on your local storage device what you currently are using, but once paid for you can forever just download the programs again should you want to revisit them.

And when the collection is all digital, it's just files and the rights to download then anyway. So I can easily imagine an interface where your friends can browse all the games you got access to, without having to have them downloaded. Think how the downloaded games are browsable today on the PS3, and expand on that.

Also, keep in mind that the bandwidth will only increase and fall in price over the coming years.

So while I prefer a physical library, I'm not all that worried about it.

Last edited by Beamboom on 7/3/2012 3:05:54 PM

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Lawless SXE
Tuesday, July 03, 2012 @ 1:46:52 AM
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So... they're going 100% digital, but they'll also be delivering content to retail? I'm guessing that he means that all of their content will be available online, rather than not having it all as it is now... something like that.

I can't say that I'll never be content with digital, but with things being the way they are now... give me physical media or I quit gaming!

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Qubex
Tuesday, July 03, 2012 @ 4:26:24 AM
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...And so it begins...

I was proporting this would happen with some confidence a few years ago on PsxExtreme... I see it as the only way forward for the developers to make gaming and distribution cheaper...

Add the DLC and Micro-Transactional model taking centre stage, and our gaming landscape has changed forever...

Quite sad really!

Q!

"play.experience.enjoy"

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Highlander
Tuesday, July 03, 2012 @ 11:18:08 AM

Very sad indeed. Especially the micro-transactional model. If micro-transactions become the norm, it will really kill off the more traditional games. Anything that can't be sold in a thousand slices will be doomed.

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___________
Tuesday, July 03, 2012 @ 5:37:02 AM
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is it just me or do companies love to contradict themselves?
they say there not abandoning brick and mortar stores, but there going 100% digital.
so isent that abandoning brick and mortar stores?
i dunno about anyone else, but i certainly am not looking forward to waiting 200 hours for battlefield 4 to download, and having to go out and buy a new HDD because it wont fit!
not to mention release day the servers will be hammered so much with everyone downloading it they will give up the ghost.
sigh, has this industry learned nothing from diablo 3?

sorry EA, and games industry but the day you go digital only is the day we part!

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cadpig
Tuesday, July 03, 2012 @ 8:31:38 AM
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EA games could go all digital and nobody would care. EA games has shown us time and time again..That they don't care about us gamers. All they are thinking about is. Keeping used games from eating into their profits.

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Amnesiac
Tuesday, July 03, 2012 @ 9:53:25 AM
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Most of their profits come from sports related titles which I don't play. It will be even easier to ignore EA games in general when they choose to go 100% digital.

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LowKey
Tuesday, July 03, 2012 @ 10:30:17 AM
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Yeahhhh, that's it. Screw those of us who don't have unlimited bandwidth. Sure hope you pricks can compress a full title down to a couple of kb's. Otherwise you'll never see my business again.

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Highlander
Tuesday, July 03, 2012 @ 11:31:26 AM
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You know, I am getting really tired of this digital delivery chorus. This started back in the days of HD-DVD when BluRay was winning and the HD-DVD crowd had to think of another way to rubbish BluRay. They suddenly started talking about streaming and digital delivery. Of course no one wants to talk about the data rates required to stream actual 720p, 1080i or 1080p video with lossless audio. They'd rather talk about how you can barely see the compression, or how nice the audio sounds despite the compression, so that they can make video data streams that will work in 2-3Mbits/second seem workable and even a viable alternative to real HD.

With games the folks at OnLive want to talk about streaming games (and don't want to talk about network latency). Myriad companies want to talk about digital delivery such as Steam.

But you know, the problem is that none of these people want to talk about the core issue. The Network.

The Internet for most people is *NOT* the following;

Ultra-reliable
Ultra-high bandwidth
Cap-less
Inexpensive

For some, broadband is not even an option.

As a for instance, I have Comcast Xfinity. I previously had ATT Fast Access DSL. I switched to Xfinity because DSL's bandwidth was horrible. With more than one person using the net at one time, it was unusable. If someone was streaming video, nothing else worked well. Online games failed. The speed upstream was poor too, three players in Burnout Paradise was more than enough to max out the connection and cause problems.

Now I have ComCast, and it's a lot faster, it could be faster than it is, but it's fast enough. However, I do have a data cap, and if people are streaming video, it is possible to get close to that cap, especially downloading some of the bigger items from PSN. However the worst aspect of ComCast for me is reliability. Currently I lose my connection briefly intermittently all day. At night it is particularly bad. Dropped connections has always been an issue with Xfinity. So when it works it's great, but when it doesn't it's not. The best thing about my local ComCast affiliate is how wonderful their customer service is. I mean, imagine only having to wait 8 days for a tech to call... It's really annoying to try playing online when your Internet is playing Russian roulette with your connection all day/night.

In the end, digital delivery is still something of a fiction to me. I don't know of any country where the Internet service is 99.999% reliable, ultra-high speed, has no data cap and is inexpensive. As long as crappy service quality, patchy data rates, data caps and high costs rule the roost - which they do in every major market - digital delivery will be at best a secondary option.

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Highlander
Tuesday, July 03, 2012 @ 11:42:03 AM

One thing to add regarding Digital Delivery. Even if the industry does go Digital for standard editions of games, I really hope that more manufacturers/publishers take note of what NISAmerica and other niche publishers do. Special editions with premium pack-ins sold direct by the publisher. People *will* pay for these, as long as they include the right things. They can be sold at a premium price directly to gamers without having to pay for distribution or retailers. I'd certainly be one of those buying physical copies in this manner.

Last edited by Highlander on 7/3/2012 11:42:47 AM

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Beamboom
Wednesday, July 04, 2012 @ 12:30:42 AM

Quote, "I don't know of any country where the Internet service is 99.999% reliable, ultra-high speed, has no data cap and is inexpensive."

Introducing: Norway. There's only data cap on mobile services (in that you pay for data beyond that cap, usually 500mb/month is included), never on broadband at home.

I got two servers running at home and they are *never* inaccessible (search for "The JAMmer" on shoutcast and you'll find one of them), that's how reliable the connection is. The connection is fast enough for us to never experience our connection as a bottleneck (70/10 mbps) and it is so cheap that most just got their broadband covered by their employer as part of the contract.

And while it obviously is not like this in every country today, this is what the gaming companies prepare for. Internet access will eventually be as common and as reliable as the electric power grid is today.


Last edited by Beamboom on 7/4/2012 12:44:12 AM

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Qubex
Wednesday, July 04, 2012 @ 4:32:04 AM

Guys, in Singapore I have no data cap for my cable internet service...

Q!

"play.experience.enjoy"

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wackazoa
Tuesday, July 03, 2012 @ 12:13:03 PM
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I still dont pay bills online so why would I go all digital ?

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Underdog15
Tuesday, July 03, 2012 @ 1:51:25 PM

I pay all my bills either online or automatically. But up here, some companies charge extra for paper billing... My cable/internet company, for example, charges an extra $2 per month for paper billing.

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DjEezzy
Tuesday, July 03, 2012 @ 5:53:19 PM
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most if not all companies charge for paper billing because it costs money to send a paper bill.

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SmokeyPSD
Friday, July 06, 2012 @ 5:46:17 AM
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Just saying, wishing this constantly does not make it so by distributors. The global infrastructure, storage media, rising space needed for games, all points to a agnostic landscape to me. Streamed, physical, downloaded why is it always a simplistic one or the other in these discussions?

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