EA Labels president Frank Gibeau tells GamesIndustry International
that NPD's retail sales figures are "an irrelevant measure on the industry" that they "don't even really look at it internally anymore" in light of how much of their business is already digital (much to the NPD's surprise
). And while he sees them continuing to deliver games through retail as long as "it makes sense," he sees them moving to 100% digital distribution sooner rather than later:
"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," Gibeau enthused.
"We're going to be a 100% digital company, period. It's going to be there some day. It's inevitable" Frank Gibeau
EA isn't about to abandon retail and its valuable retail partners tomorrow, though.
"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."