Will Digital Overtake Retail In 2011?

Will Digital Overtake Retail In 2011?

Will Digital Overtake Retail In 2011?John Riccitiello, CEO of EA, certainly thinks so. Speaking to Industry Gamers he claimed that by “the end of [2011] , the digital business” would be “bigger than the packaged goods business.”

We’ve seen a massive growth in digital distribution over the last couple of years, and of all the major publishers it seems that EA are leading the charge in this regard – in terms of both mobile and console gaming.

According to Riccitiello, the future of digital distribution is allowing the consumer a certain level of flexibility in how they choose to play and purchase games.

“I actually don’t think that there’s a lot of mileage in trying to decide exactly how consumers want to buy their entertainment content,” he claimed. “They may want to buy it on an iPad; they may want to get it through the social network, they may want to pay for it through micro-transactions and monetizing, or they may want to pay for it all at once. They may rather pay a subscription price in order to count on what their costs are going to be, but they may want to pay for it all at once and never have to pay for it again. We’re in all of those businesses and I think the way this is going to work is that the models that the consumers like the most are going to grow the most.”

Even in the conversations we’ve had with EA locally, we’ve never heard such a bold prediction. In our extensive mobile gaming feature we discussed the rapid rise of digital distribution, but it was always tempered with a reliance on retail and the sale of AAA titles on console. It’ll be interesting to see just how much resources the big publishers will be pushing towards mobile gaming and digitally distributed games or additional mini transactions over the coming year.

EA CEO: Digital to Overtake Retail This Year [Industry Gamers]


  • “I think the way this is going to work is that the models that the consumers like the most are going to grow the most.”

    I was doing to comment something like “DUH!”, but then I thought Gerry Harvey might find this useful.

  • Not with Australian broadband the way it is, no.

    This is a big problem Australia may face. US publishers deciding everything goes digital so those outside the cities who can’t get good broadband can;t buy games

    this would suck for them 🙁

    • Yeah, this isn’t a viable distribution for Australia at all.

      I really hope Labor start pushing through with the NBN soon, and get it into full swing before the next election, because Turnball’s going to tear it apart the instant an opportunity presents itself.

      • Not to sound like an old codger (I’m only a youngin’ by the political fossil standards) but there needs to be some priorities checked here.

        43 Billion. That’s forty-three-thousand million in British terms.

        The NBN could do with a bit of a tearing apart, with figures like that. I’m not talking about its wholesale abolition, but a cutback or revision is SURELY in order. This nation has larger problems than the speed of its internet – let’s try the continuing water and power problems first. Sounds like Queensland could do with some dams right about now… Let’s start getting more worried about the fact we’re screwing the planet with an obsession over coal, when we should probably be jumping on the Fusion bandwagon with France.

        I’m a gamer, I’d love high speed internet as much as the next, but really, the other part of me being a rational human being with everyday problems, I’d rather see us put some of that substantial kitty elsewhere.

  • It’s not so clearcut. Will I buy the Steam version of Dawn of War 2: Retribution for $59.99 or get the shiny Collector’s Edition with more content from EB Games for $58?

  • Ah yes the sector that made up what, 3% of total retail sales will somehow grow at an exponential rate despite there being no real new thing to justify an enourmous swing in national purchasing habits.

  • IMO this isn’t going to work in Australia, but I honestly think we’ve got a good 10-15 years before retail boxes for games are phased out, if then. I have little to no doubt that the next generation of consoles are going to use Bluray, and possibly even the generation after that… I can hardly download a 1.5gb demo rather than a 30gb game. But I say again, I doubt I’ll have to for a really long time…

Show more comments

Log in to comment on this story!