EA may see its future in free-to-play PC games but it doesn’t foresee the end of physical games in the immediate future. In fact, despite years of decline in video game retail, EA expects that the impending release of the Xbox 720, PlayStation 4, and even Wii U will revitalize the ailing business of selling games in a store.
The company’s digital revenues grew to $1 billion last fiscal year and it expects that to increase to nearly $2 billion before this year ends. Physical disc sales are still going to pull in the bulk of its revenue though.
“The tipping point will come,” EA chief operating officer Peter Moore told MCV, “But it’s not that packaged is going away, it’s that digital is going up. Let’s not misunderstand this. Our forecast the year is to also do $2.6 billion in packaged goods. So there will be a £40 console game (the UK equivalent of a $60 game in the US), but there will be an iPhone experience and a PC experience too. There is always an opportunity for a Battlefield or a FIFA.”
He’s right. After all, people are actually still buying music CDs and DVDs. The all-digital future is coming, but it won’t be here even in the next five years. What Moore doesn’t address though is how there will be fewer and fewer retail games. Battlefield and FIFA, games that will sell millions of copies, will be available as discs, but will Persona 4 Arena, something that will only sell in the hundred of thousands? Not a chance.