EA: it's "inevitable" we'll become a 100% digital company

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

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EA has said it's "inevitable" it'll become a 100 per cent digital company.

EA already makes a huge amount of money from the sale of digital content, and it expects to make nearly $2 billion from it during its current financial year. But it already imagines a future where all of its money is made from gamers buying downloaded content.

And that future will arrive sooner rather than later, EA Labels boss Frank Gibeau told GamesIndustry International.

"It's in the near future. It's coming," he said.

"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."

The transition to a purely digital games industry is a controversial one for those who still enjoy physical media.

Most publishers see their revenue growth coming from digital as the traditional boxed product business declines. But both Sony and Microsoft are expected to stick with physical media - complimented by new digital features (see Sony's recent Gaikai deal) for the next PlayStation and Xbox hardware.

For EA, maker of some of the biggest games in the world, the benefit of going digital-only is clear.

"It has a lot of enhancements for our business," Gibeau said. "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 personalised with what we're doing."

For now, though, EA remains committed to selling games on discs - and will do so for as long as gamers want it to.

"If customers want to buy a game at retail, they can do that too," Gibeau said. "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.

"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 per cent digital company, period. It's going to be there some day. It's inevitable."

Gibeau pointed to the emergence of TVs connected to the internet and streaming as two examples of how EA will deliver its digital content in the future. "We'll be prepared for it," he said.

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