EA: ‘We’re Going To Be 100% Digital’

EA: ‘We’re Going To Be 100% Digital’

The publisher behind games like Mass Effect and Madden says it won’t be selling its games at brick-and-mortar stores for much longer.

Speaking to GamesIndustry.biz, EA Labels president Frank Gibeau said it won’t be too much longer before the company goes completely digital:

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 personalised with what we’re doing…

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% digital company, period. It’s going to be there some day. It’s inevitable.

Hope you’ve got broadband.

EA is “going to be a 100% digital company, period” says Gibeau [GamesIndustry.biz]


  • This is actually a good thing

    Now when I go to a store, there won’t be rehashes and games with day one dlc in my way when looking for a good game.

      • Moving to digital only DL was the best move for me, my entire Steam collection is 10 times bigger than every console game I’ve ever owned. I bought one physical game in the last 2 years (SSX for PS3) and felt rather rather ripped off when I got it. My regular internet dropouts are yet to cause me any problems whatsoever.

        • There is a huge difference between digital only. And only connection required to play your games.

          One is a method of selling games only via the web.

          The other, mean you can’t play those games whenever their servers are down or your internet is down(Digital or Not)

          constant internet connection is bad.

      • I think he was making a joke about not having to see any crappy EA games when he goes to the shops from now on.

  • I like collecting games. I’ll always prefer a boxed copy and wouldn’t even think about trading it in after finishing. I just hope this doesn’t go hand-in-hand with always on DRM.

    • (Also I hope they consider future proofing their games, ability to create permanent offline backups and the like.)

    • I agree. Only good thing I can imagine for the consumer is the convenience, plus, I wonder if the games will actually be cheaper now that manufacturing costs are out. I doubt it.

      • I’d love to say I agree with this…. I USED to? I would buy the game, register it on steam then install and patch it etc. Now, if I even buy a damn game in the shop, it’s because I want a backup physical copy of it… then I realised I could back up Steam (herp derp yeah I know…) instead of downloading it all again… No idea if you can do that with Origin, but it doesn’t bother me too much. It WILL when we get 100gb games (not too long, when games go full digital, there are no longer capacity restrictions remember). Either way, it’s not the giant tragedy people will think, it’s progression, either go with it or be left in the dust alas.

        • Yeah you don’t even need the backup feature(which in my experience always fails or takes too long anyway.

          Just grab the directory out of the Steamapps/common folder for the game you want to backup. Move it/burn it etc. When you want it back, dump it back in steamapps/common and tell steam to install the game. It will download any patches or files released since. And your good to go.

      • its not convineient when your internet can’t handle it….we just arent ready for that yet

        • Take a gander at how the internet has progressed in the last 5 years, the article makes out like its next year, it won’t be. Give it maybe half a decade. By then the NBN will be in place, higher speeds etc, 1-2tb plans. It’ll be ok.

          • higher speeds only for local websites, international websites and servers will still be slower to access due to the copper submarine communications cabling connecting us to international servers. Although considering this, copper currently running in Australia can still reach a top downstream speed of about 25mb/s.

    • Same here, I don’t mind a company going digital as long as they still provide the OPTION for customers like us to buy a card copy if they want to.

    • I love my discs, I hate this. Though I reckon there’ll still be physical special editions, I’m still peeved.

    • Me too. This is why I don’t buy games on steam, only if it’s downloadable games or I can’t find boxed copies anywhere.

    • I don’t buy games on Steam, because they banned my account due to a $10 payment bounce(for an Indie game) when you have like a hundred games on there… Never purchased digitally again because of that.

      I got told I had to pay it with the same payment method as well, which doesn’t work when the pre-paid credit card is retarded.

      I hope hard copies always stay, and oh well, nothing was lost if it’s only EA.

  • Not sure how they got ‘no more brick-and-mortar’ sales considering this line is between the two quotes they’ve used:
    “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,”
    It would seem by 100% digital they mean offer digital versions of all their products, not only offer digital products. Which makes perfect sense when you take into consideration we’re talking about the guys who make their bread and butter with games like Madden.

    • Indeed, the article seems to contradict the headline in a few places:
      Article: “says it won’t be selling its games at brick-and-mortar stores for much longer.”
      EA: “It’s going to be there some day. It’s inevitable.”

      Someday does not indicate SOON. It could be five or ten years? SOON indicates within the next one to two realistically… c’mon,…

    • could also simply mean.

      We understand not everyone can buy online because they don’t have a credit card due to their age or we don’t accept the ones they have etc. So we will sell Digital Download Codes at retail.

  • This seems like a really poor decision. The digital market is huge but there’s still a lot of places around the world where purchasing and downloading games digitally is just not feasible. It seems to me EA could be cutting out a large chunk of potential revenue.

    From an Australian point of view, this really sucks. EA always charges aussies ridiculous amounts for digital versions of their games. At the moment we can just jump on ozgameshop or something and buy a physical copy for a fair price but if EA goes digital only it’s going to be that much harder to get their games at resonable prices.

    From a personal perspective, I don’t like it. Now I love digital games, I own a lot, but as games get bigger and bigger the time to download them is getting longer and longer. Sitting around for 12 hours to download a game is just not fun. Also, I like having something physical I can hold in my hand and put on my shelf.

    • I absolutely hate digital down loads for a 6 gb game it takes me a hole day to download and 1/3 of my limit

  • I don’t get it? what gamers if any have been requesting downloadable only games? sounds like a poor excuse to reduce overheads.

  • Sigh
    I too love collecting/displaying my games ( guess it wld be easier to hide the pile of shameless games)
    Plus i hate Origin as it is!

  • “some point in the future”

    I wouldnt be freaking out just yet…

    and…seriously if they did this tomorrow that would mean I COULD NOT buy any EA games….good going EA….pricks….

  • Booooo. I live ten minutes from the gold coast and can’t get any form of broadband other than wireless. The biggest wireless plan available atm is gb which I have and does not fulfil my needs as a gamer. I still AvsP sitting in my steam account not downloaded because it will take up a months internet usage. Point taken?

  • I just played The Dig over the weekend, a game I’ve had in my collection since the mid ’90s. Still plays awesomely thanks to the good folks at ScummVM. Currently not available on GOG or Steam or any where outside of eBay. (Correct me if I’m wrong?) I know some folks don’t look back after they play a game, but if digital distribution is going to happen I’d like them to give thought to preserving these games. Not making it disposable and dependent on a server to play.

  • What is it again, $107 or $108 AUD for the digital download of BF3 for PS3 on the Australian PSN store. I think that is a rude price to charge considering they don’t have to print nothing and it costs you a decent chunk of bandwidth to download it also. I think there should be a significant reduction in price for the consumer, not greater profit margins for EA. No wonder they got so many votes for Consumerist’s Worst Company in America.

    • Spot on… EA: “we will be 100% digital and will charge you an extra 100% to download the same file to a region with a stronger economy!”

      Fuck you EA

  • Just think how great it will be, if they are all digital, then there is no packaging and manufacturing costs, that means EA games will only become cheaper! This will be amazing guy and girls, can’t wait! lol

    I’m not freaking out just yet, but it’s sadly where the industry is heading, I like my boxed goods and sense of ownership it provides (blah blah you don’t own anything but a license to the content blah blah). I’m all for publishers and developers getting a high percentage back, but I am not looking forward to the monopoly it will generate, the prices they will be able to dictate where hypothetically some things might never go on sale/become cheaper.

  • I am keen for all digital to get going. I have a decent connection and a 500gb limit. As soon as they stop selling at retail shops, publishers will be able to give us decent prices to download games instead of having to keep the prices competitive for the retail stores. I can then say goodbye to taking up shelfspace, disc changing and having to import games.

    • How the bloody hell do you have a 500GB limit and how much is it costing you a month?

      I want it (if the price is right)!

      • TPG costs $50 a month for 500GB a month including phone line rental or something less. My optus 500GB plan costs me $60 though because I can’t have TPG in my area for some reason.

        • Yeah TPG is pretty cheap. In comparison, I have Bigpond (Only good ISP on my exchange) with a 500GB limit for about $89 (since we have it bundled with Foxtel and phone). Without the bundle it’s like $109 or something though……………

          • You guys guessed right. TPG. I could have gotten an unlimited cap for the exact same price but my housemate was convinced our download speed wouldn’t be as good and it doesn’t really make much of a difference to us.

          • Don’t you only get the unlimited downloads for $49.99/month if you bundle it with a VOIP phone plan or something?

          • Ummmm yes but its only $10 per month and its the exact same deal with the 500gb. So all up $60 per month for 500gb/unlimited.
            I think most people could live with that.

        • As long as your internet is working you’re good, as soon as something goes wrong, TPG are hopeless. You pay for what you get.

        • Could be that you’re on an Optus infrastructure(phone line). TPG use Telstra infrastructure, where as Optus can use both Telstra’s and their own.

      • Not that much when you have a look around. I get 200GB + Phone for $88 per month with Telstra Bigpond.

        • And the connection runs as fast it can depending on where you live (up to 20mps), e.g. when I was living at a new estate with brand new lines, was running at nearly constant 20mps. But when I moved into an older area, only runs at about 9mps 🙁 Hurry up NBN! *on the 200GB Elite plan

          • Il take 9mbs im only getting 6mbs at best with adls2 and less than 2km from the exchange 🙁

          • Basically the same situation for me. About 5.5mb/s and around 2.6km from the exchange (just under 2km as the crow flies). Stupid Canberra internet.

            When i use to live in Sydney i had Bigpond Cable…..got almost 40mb/s off that…..was so awesome 🙁

      • a lot of people in Melbourne have access to ADSL2 with two companies actually providing terabyte limit, and even UNLIMITED plans, as I’m on now. It’s good to not even think about how much we’ve chewed up. (hey I’d say we even use less, as there’s no incentive to “get our money’s worth”)

        Not that I agree with going digital though. Love my boxes. Also anybody who was at the Games Masters Forum would have seen Warren Spector himself having the realisation that if all games go digital/cloud, they would have no end of trouble preserving and maintaining record of games.

    • As soon as they stop selling at retail shops, publishers will no longer have excuses to give us decent prices to download games instead of having to keep the prices competitive for the retail stores.

      Fixed that for you… Honestly I expect nothing will change. They’ll keep charging Aussies more because they can.

    • Except they won’t change the damn price…we see it already for DLC only stuff that you can’t buy from a store and we continually get gouged.

  • This will only be a good thing if this means they lower the RRP of games here……but it’s EA, we know they wont…..

  • I don’t like it. It’s monopolising the game industry by reducing competition of retail avenues. I can think of the worst case that they only release Battlefield 4 at Origin. No competition for sales of the product. EA would have complete control over the price of it. Good for the producer, bad for the consumer and it’s why generally monopolies are a bad thing.

  • Apologies to the people not in this boat, but in my experience the situation tends to play out like this when dealing with this argument:

    “OH EM GEE! What a terrible idea we don’t all live in South Korea ZOMG!”
    *opens Steam and catalogue of 100+ digital games that have been purchased*
    “Stupid EA LOL digitial is fail”

    • Digital distribution has a whole lot of awesome advantages, but there’s also new found pitfalls like pricing, future proofing and DRM. They’re valid concerns. (Atleast I like to think so.) Don’t mistake them for an inability or unwillingness to try new things, though…

      • (I should also say I think it’s the future for sure, just these thinks need to be considered. Now I’m outta this thread. Too much rambling on my part today. :P)

  • I have read all the comments such as “oh good games will cost less” etc.

    Has anyone thought of the job losses of those who work in the manufacturing of the physical products and shipping the products?

    Some may not realise but a fair few games have “made in Australia” printed on the back cover.

    Not just unknown workers overseas that will be effected but some of our very own “AUSSIE WORKERS”

    I say BOO HISS to this!

    Sure you think it won’t effect you in the long run because your job has nothing to do with game logistics but just wait for those who end up out of work move into other sectors of employment making other jobs harder to get!

  • What i take from this

    1) EA will have every game they make available digitally as well as retail
    2) PS4 and the next Xbox will support all games downloaded digitally like the Wii U.

    EA saying soon because the consoles are not announced.

      • Nothing, he’s probably just a little kid who invents problems to satisfy his agendas judging by the name

        • steam is intrusive malware. id rather not be monitored while i play my games. valve spy on everything you do. look at the ring access levels of steam.

          • Oh no, Valve knows what games I am playing and when, and aid in harvesting metrics from my gameplay like every sensible game designer should! Since this doesn’t affect me in any way whatsoever I can’t be mad about it for real reasons, so I will say I oppose it on principle and just pirate games instead!

  • I’m pretty much 100% digital now anyway (apart from X360).

    If there were a Green Man Gaming equivalent for Xbox on Demand games I would be completely digital.

    I’m just too lazy to get off the couch to change discs!

  • It’s no surprise whatsoever that EA will be completely digital – of course they will, just like everything else in terms of entertainment in this world. I like my boxed copy games too, but the next generation won’t. They’ll see games on a disc as “archaic”, just like we (well … I)CD-raised generation sneer at 8-tracks and records. My friend’s 6-year old daughter doesn’t want to SWAP SOMETHING *”ew, like, gross”* to play a game, she wants to pick it from a list and swipe her finger to get it started.
    Online distribution is a given, and EA saying this is akin to them saying, “one day it will rain”.

  • Going Digital is going to throw our rights away from games. There has been “time limits” set for some EA games that you buy. If you have a game for longer than a year, they have the LEGAL RIGHT to take it away from you and you have to re-buy it for whatever price they ask for. So no, this is a bad thing. A lot of people want to believe EA will do what Steam does which is NOT the case. Same can be said about Ubisoft. They did the DRM with all their digital downloads.

    The prices for the games will also stay higher longer because there is no real “product” to push. It never goes bad and it never stacks up space. The only reason games now of days go cheaper in a hurry is because stories need to get the space open for newer more popular games. More likely then not games like Battlefield will stay 60 dollars and not get a lower price till 2-3 months before the new Battlefield is released.

    In the long run this is bad for consumers and good for big publishers like EA, Activison (Blizzard), Capcom, Ubisoft, Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo, and the list goes on. To be really frank here, there is not a chance in hell they will do digital only. The Internet is not as good as say in Japan or Korea. There are a lot of people either with crappy or very slow internet. So they will be losing a lot of revenue if they did not have a physical disc. If they only allowed 3 locations to sell their games I can already tell you where they will be at. Wal-Mart, Gamestop, and Best Buy. Best Buy is a bit more out there then the other two, but you get the point. So don’t believe all this PR nonsense. Physical discs are not going anywhere for at least 7-10 more years. When the internet in the states catches up to more stable and reliable internet of foreign lands, then we’ll see this wave of digital only craze.

  • Oh ok, so with the mostly flimsy reasons offered to date about regional pricing out the window, this will open up fair prices worldwide on games. Like DLC for EA games now, which can only be bought in one place (for PC at least). Therefore there is no difference in price for these ‘goods’, is there?

    Oh wait…

    Game sold at store in Australia for $90, EA gets $20-50 (no idea, just guessing)
    Game sold online in Australia for $90, EA gets $90, with slightly lower overhead.
    Bonus profit!

    Won’t happen anytime soon though, he’s talking on a conceptual level. Basically, when enough of the market is only digital (at least over 50%, probably much higher) then it will make sense to. Until then, it doesn’t, so as much as they wish it would happen (for bonus profits reason) it won’t.

    • But they won’t charge $90. Well, they technically could, but they’ll just be pricing themselves out of the market since Origin doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Steam, XBLA, PSN, iOS, Android all exist and allow the purchase of cheap entertainment to drive market prices down.

      The idea is that with significantly reduced costs with shipping, storage, staff, etc then EA would be able to reduce downloadable game prices while maintaining the same profits. The companies that don’t seem to ‘get’ this. eg. Square Enix who think they can get away with charging the same amount on iOS at $20 a game are getting stomped by Zynga, Popcap, Rovio etc who realise they can charge much less and make much more.

  • they will and they will be one of the first major publishers to fall, a large chunk of sales will drop off. alot of the casuals who buy games (the majority of their sales) wont feel comfortable buying games online, also australia unlike america has capped internet most normal families wont have the means to do so.

  • It’d be awesome if Gamestop/Game/etc. stopped carrying any of their games because of this, I won’t buy any of their shit anymore after ME2.

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