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EA: physical media still has a future

"People like a physical copy of a game."

EA reckons physical media - games on a disc sold in a real world shop - still have a future, despite the growth of digital sales and the emergence of streaming.

EA's European boss Jens Uwe Intat outlined three reasons why he's convinced physical media isn't going anywhere: the sheer size of video games in terms of data, the desire by many to own a physical copy of a game, and gift giving.

"The amount of data our developers put into a game grows so fast," he told Eurogamer. "Software engineers, you give them storage space and they use it. As fast as the pipes grow, those guys are so creative.

"Secondly, there are people who just like to have a physical copy of a game. Thirdly, there is still this impulse purchasing and gift purchasing where people just like to give a physical present to somebody rather than a voucher or an attachment to an email.

"So I think there is still a lot of reasons why physical goods in bricks and mortar stores will have an interesting future."

Uwe Intat's comments echo those of his boss, CEO John Riccitiello, who in January cast doubt on the viability of cloud-based gaming services.

"We make services, we don't make products, and I think the challenge I would have in answering the question the way you framed it is I don't think people want a streaming game service. I think they want their games to work," he said.

This despite EA's own prediction that digitally delivered content will bring in more business than traditional packaged games by the end of 2011. EA also recently launched Steam rival Origin, its PC download shop.

Wii and 3DS maker Nintendo has also backed physical media. In February Nintendo of Europe's MD of marketing and PR, Laurent Fischer said packaged software will "drive the mass market".

And in August last year then Sony Computer Entertainment boss Kaz Hirai insisted a digital future is over 10 years away.

"We do business in parts of the world where network infrastructure isn't as robust as one would hope," Hirai said.

"There's always going to be requirement for a business of our size and scope to have a physical medium.

"To think everything will be downloaded in two years, three years or even 10 years from now is taking it a little bit to the extreme."

Last July saw a watershed moment in the rise of digitally distributed games, when NPD revealed that US PC game digital downloads were reaching parity with in-store sales.

In October 2010 Take-Two boss Strauss Zelnick predicted that in three years' time 40 per cent of the Grand Theft Auto company's sales will be digitally distributed titles.

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