Monday, September 22, 2008

EA Sports Embracing Inevitable Digital Distribution Future

GameStop must love those big annual Madden sales, but in the not so distant future GameStop might not even be part of the equation. Peter Moore comments on digital distribution and EA Sports...

by James Brightman on Friday, September 19, 2008

EA Sports Embracing Inevitable Digital Distribution Future

GameStop CEO Dan DeMatteo doesn't believe that digital distribution of full-size video games will be a reality for quite some time, but that's not necessarily how the rest of the industry sees it. In fact, EA Sports sees the industry inevitably headed towards an all digital distribution future.

Speaking in the final (fifth!) part of Guardian's ongoing interview with EA Sports label president Peter Moore, the former Xbox executive talked about EA Sports getting ready to "make some major announcements of licensees that will be taking the EA Sports brand in different places," and he also weighed in on the digital distribution debate.

"The one thing that will change is whether it's going to be a physical packaged goods model, or whether it's going to be direct to consumer download," he said. "There will be a time when we don't ship it on a physical disc, it's not far away, in fact we're already doing it in Asia, and we might give you the core game for free, but then you start buying downloads, micro-transactions, we'll sponsor some stuff, and start shifting the business model away from 'I need to get your £49 and then say goodbye to you when you walk out of Game', I want to talk to you everyday, I want to give you things everyday that keep you in contact with me, I want a relationship with you as a consumer 365 days a year."

Referring to the struggles of the music industry and how EA is looking to avoid repeating the music business mistakes, Moore added, "We've gone from connected consumers being the minority to connected consumers being the majority. We need to look three years into the future and say it's going to be a completely different business, because of broadband connections. I am not going to be at the helm of a company that ends up like the music business that refused to stop trying to sell you CDs for £15 because it was a hugely profitable model."

Ultimately, Moore believes shifting to the digital distribution will be both the biggest challenge and the biggest opportunity for the video game industry.

"...we're going to evolve, we're going to go faster for the consumer, whatever the consumer wants. So in the future hard drives are going to be bigger, broadband is going to be faster and we're going to look back and laugh at the fact that we used to drive to the store to buy a piece of plastic with data on it. That business model isn't going to exist – I don't know whether it's going to be five years from now or ten years, but it's not going to be around anymore," he said.

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