EA's Moore: Digital will overtake boxed products in two to three years

But COO promises publisher will never "abandon" physical media

Electronic Arts boss Peter Moore has predicted that the majority of the publisher's sales will be digital by 2015.

"There will come a point, whether it is two or three years from now, when we say. 'We are doing more in digital media now than we are in physical media,' and it's clearly ... not far away," the COO told Reuters.

He added that for this financial year the publisher had 41 free-to-play or social games planned, with more on the horizon. Not that old fashioned types should worry.

"We will never abandon physical media. As long as the consumer wants to buy something on a disc, we will be there to offer it."

Moore also commented on EA's recent share buy-back scheme and rise in share price.

"Investors are starting to understand our strategy, are starting to see light at the end of tunnel, starting to see growth rates in the areas we have invested in and in the industry as a whole starting to attract attention again."

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Latest comments (18)

Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer 6 years ago
I would lean more to digital purchases if i knew the content belonged to me. But if for some reason a business or comapany that hosts the network goes bust i lose access to my games. if I can down load it and actually have the archive in a way i can store on other disk media and I can play it without access to the network much like a movie or music file then Im all for digital distribution.
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Adam Yau Game Programmer 6 years ago
I am one of the ones that will buy physical media as collection. I really wish we can get a copy of the digital version when you buy a physical version. That way we don't need to change disc/cards but still own the game.
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James Verity6 years ago
the thing that will kill digital is there will be a time when the user cannot access there product they purchased and they will loose all faith in digital... many a time have I been hit by purchasing a product and then having it removed from me accessing it, without the seller butting an eyelid... I for one am now very carful what I purchase as a digital download...

the internet currently for most isnt and possibly never will be suitable for digital downloads... especially the size which some devs claim there games to be 25-30+ GB... movies, music and mini games are fine at under 2GB but any bigger titles will be a no go for most...
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Show all comments (18)
This will certainly impact new games for the new consoles
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Lisa Pham Owner at Calipip-Sims 6 years ago
"But COO promises publisher will never "abandon" physical media"
That only stands while the current COO is in place, because once he's out, that promise (he made) becomes null and void.

Anyway, I rarely purchase digital versions of games because I love the feel of a purchase in MY HANDS, so if the physical versions stop being produced, I'll stop purchasing games. If I can't feel it, it's not really real and I can't see where my money has gone. Some would call me materialistic, but really, I'm not.. I just don't like paying for something that I will never have any control over and can lose in an instant. And I won't purchase games that have to rely on an internet connection. Yes, it limits the games I can/will purchase, but it's my choice and my right to do so.

Take the recent move that Valve has just pulled... they put out a new agreement to take even more rights away from you and if you don't agree, you lose ALL access (say goodbye) to all those games you paid money for.. That is very wrong and that is what I want to avoid.
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Curt Sampson Sofware Developer 6 years ago
Well, as a dissenting point of view, despite the disadvantages, I lean towards digital purchases. It's hard to be accurate about my PS3 games collection since I wasn't tracking purchases for the first couple of years, but it's something along the lines of half physical and half digital, for a couple of thousand dollars worth of games bought over the last four or five years. There have been some cases where I sold the physical copy to replace it with a digital copy. My PC gaming purchases are much easier to track since I starting gaming on a PC again only this year: just over $700 on digital downloads, and almost nothing (a used game or two received in trade) on physical media.

The convenience of digital downloads is undeniable, at least for someone like me with a 100 Mbps fibre connection (which is pretty standard here in Japan). I can buy and download even a large (8-15 GB) AAA game faster than I can get to the shop and get back home. When I want to play a game I just start it, without having to find and insert a disc. (This isn't always an issue for PC games, but is for PS3 games.) I can log in to my account on a new PC or PS3, do a download, and start playing without having to worry about having access to my media, and I don't have to worry about keeping backups or losing media.

There is indeed the downside that the games are basically a rental for an indefinite period: I'm almost certainly going to lose access to them sooner or later, and there's a small but definite risk that it could be a lot sooner than I wish should my account be disabled for some reason. But it's not as if physical media doesn't have the same problem. I hope I still have somewhere my install CDs for Starship Titanic, but even if I do, and even if they're still readable, there's no telling if the game will play on any Windows system now easily available to me. And even if I still had the media for my old Apple II Infocom games, they'd be useless.

In cases like the last one, it's no big deal. The publisher got their money at the time, and if I want to go back to those games I can download an emulator and a copy of the game (albeit technically illegally). That will probably be true of many PC games in the future. The PS3 games will probably be lost forever a couple of decades from now, except for those that are re-released for new platforms for which you'll have to pay again anyway.
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Roland Austinat roland austinat media productions|consulting, IDG, Computec, Spiegel Online6 years ago
Wrote this earlier today, fits here perfectly, too:

I don't mind buying games online, but I'd like to have the option to play them when I am offline (hello, Diablo 3) and to be able to buy a *worthy* Collector's Edition for a game (or series) that might be close to my heart.

The big issue is that one can make less money by simply selling commodities that will last for a long time - selling a service or the license to play/listen/watch something for a limited amount of time will make more money. Servers are down, you say? Too bad. We're working hard to bring them up again.

And modern media does last for a pretty long time, especially digital media. So built-in obsolescence that's in other physical products like toasters, fridges or cars can only work here by limiting access to the product. Combine that with today's addiction to convenience and instant gratification and you have the iTunes Music Store, Steam and Origin.
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Dave Herod Senior Programmer, Codemasters6 years ago
@Lisa - Do you never go to the cinema either? You can't hold that experience in your hands either, and afterwards you've got nothing to keep but a memory. There's plenty of things people pay for that by your reasoning, are not "real".
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Lisa Pham Owner at Calipip-Sims 6 years ago
@Dave. Yes, I go to the cinema (but I do purchase the DVD once it's released too), but we are talking about *games* here, not movies/films. Movies at a cinema are meant to be short lived and I expect that, but with games, at the price we have to pay, I like to hold in my hands and I want to be confident that I can still play them when I want to for years to come. Eg. I still play RA2, C&C Generals: Zero Hour, Sims 2, Emperor Battle for Dune, Theme Park World, and many other older games that I purchased years ago and still enjoy playing.

There are very few newer games I like or want to play due to the issues/restriction that come with them, plus I have no idea when they might be pulled off of us by the publishers/distributors, hence why I'm careful of what games I purchase to play. I also avoid harsh/restrictive DRM's and I avoid the games that require me to be connected to the net just to play them. I don't play multiplayer games, so feel there is NO need for me to be connected to the internet just to play a single player game/mode.

I am allowed my opinion just like anyone else. And I also PAY for the games I play, so I have a right to also only purchase games I want that suit my needs.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Lisa Pham on 14th August 2012 1:19pm

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Terence Gage Freelance writer 6 years ago
I used to be very anti buying digital copies of retail releases, but in probably the last 18 months I've started to really warm to the idea. I now have somewhere in the region of 100 digital games, with I guess about 10 of those full retail releases (some through PS+, so quite recent additions). Space has become more of an issue as my family has grown and now if I have the choice between buying a game for 8 digitally or buying the physical copy for the same price, I'll usually go for the digital copy - and this also accounts for the consideration that the resale value on an 8 game would be so little as to be practically worthless.

I realise that digital copies are in many ways less secure than physical ones, but then I don't often replay games any more like I used to so I'm not necessarily looking at the long-term value in a product rather than the option to play it once, maybe again down the line if I've got time. Some titles like Demon's/Dark Souls I love the physical releases and will keep forever, but I guess as the industry is moving toward being fully digital I am at the same time being conditioned to be less materialistic, for good or ill.
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Curt Sampson Sofware Developer 6 years ago
Lisa, if you like the feel of phyiscal media and the (unfortunately not entirely true) sense of longevity it gives you, that's fair enough. But I don't think your price comment is fair. Games seem to me, at a glance anyway, to be considerably cheaper than films.

DVDs and Blu-rays seem to run $10-$30, depending on whether it's an older or newer release, for a couple of hours of entertainment.. That's about $5-$15/hour. AAA games run $10-$80 depending on age and whether or not you get them at a Steam sale, and generally offer 12 hours or more (sometimes much, much more) of entertainment. That's about $1-7/hour, and much, much less for games such as Fallout 3 or New Vegas, Skyrim, Borderlands, or Battlefield 3 where you can easily spend 50-100 hours on the game before getting bored of it.

Games offer fantastic value for money, these days. They didn't always; back in the coin-op days you'd spend your quarter, get your 5-10 minutes, and it was all over.

Terrence: your developing ability to let go of material things clearly indicates that you are on the path to enlightenment. :-)

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Curt Sampson on 15th August 2012 3:22am

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Lisa Pham Owner at Calipip-Sims 6 years ago
@Curt. You obviously don't live in Australia where the price of AAA games is appalling. As for Steam, I already said I don't buy digital versions of games.

Games that cost $80+ but only give at most 30 - 40 hours or gameplay, is terrible, I've paid less for games (years ago) and played them for years (and still do) and not once has any game I've played been the same. I don't want a game that give only X amount of hours play, I want longevity/re-playability/sustainability.

As for some of the games you've mentioned, Thanks, but I'll pass. Due to Borderlands and the patch that also installed SecuROM hooks for Dr. Ned's introduction of SecuROM, I had to reformat my PC at the time to be rid of SecuROM once I'd finished evaluating the game. I realise at this point you don't already know, but I wrote the tutorial to (removal instructions) remove SecuROM for those that didn't want it on their PC's/Laptops ( ). So I know how to clean up after it's been installed but not this time, it didn't matter what I did, it would reinstall itself as soon as I rebooted my PC. The version that came with the patch and the version that came with that DLC/EP, was a nightmare to get rid of, hence the reformat.

The day I start buying the digital versions is the day I'm convinced that the gaming industry has finally decided to respect their consumers/fans and prove it by becoming consumer friendly. Until that day, i will continue to buy the physical versions that also don't have restrictive DRM's or always online connection requirement, also they won't ever block me from my game.

I'm sorry if that's not to your liking, but I am a consumer and I pay for my games. I also have the right to choose who gets my money, and that will only be to those that at least let me have some rights.

And I know I'm not the only consumer that feels this way.

Now I can go backwards and forwards with this discussion for days, weeks or even months, but I'm not going to, as I can see it wouldn't matter what i say, it would not satisfied most in here. So, I'll end my part of this here. :)

Ps... I forgot to mention something..

As for DVD's/Movies .. I have purchased a few thousand of those over the years and I have watched most of them at least twice... some as much as 20 times. I only buy the ones I want to continue to keep watching over the years.

Edited 4 times. Last edit by Lisa Pham on 15th August 2012 7:05am

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Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 6 years ago
@Lisa Pham
"Games that cost $80+ but only give at most 30 - 40 hours or gameplay, is terrible,"

This is where FTP games with IAP are a huge winner for the consumer. Free games have to be better than paid for games. And free games are digitally distributed.
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Dave Herod Senior Programmer, Codemasters6 years ago
Like Terence, I used to want a physical copy, but after having a huge collection of games/DVDs/books I barely use (but still may, one day) cluttering up by parent's house, I'd much prefer a digital copy now. I realised that I'm not buying a physical object, that's just its delivery mechanism, and while it still works for a lot of things (going to the shop to buy a big game on disc can still be a hell of a lot faster than downloading it), the value is in the experience you get from it. And for me, it's quality, not quantity, although in some pleasant cases you get both. Worrying about whether I'll still be able to play a game in a few years time has little bearing on whether it's worth shelling out for now. By the sounds of it, the problem in Australia is just that games are ridiculously priced, but that has nothing to do with whether it's digitally distributed or not.
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Curt Sampson Sofware Developer 6 years ago
Lisa, there's no need to apologise for whether or not your preferences are to my liking; they're your preferences and you need to live your life the way you want to. If you feel bad about games that cost about the same per hour as a film, and feel that they should cost significantly less, well, that's how you feel, and you're free to make your purchasing decisions appropriately.

I'm just pointing out two things. First, you do appear to hold the opinion that games should be considerably cheaper than some other entertainment media. Second, it's not just DRM that's limiting the ability of you to play your games in the future. Many other facets of the technology also conspire to reduce the chances you'll be able to play any video game a year or a decade or two from now.
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Dave Herod Senior Programmer, Codemasters6 years ago
Also, Bruce, FTP games don't have to be better. They have to be accessible and "moreish". This doesn't necessarily make them better.
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Mats Holm Technical Writer, Electronic Arts6 years ago
I been off physical for years. My gaming rig does not even have a DVD player. Games I get boxed copies of (from work, or gifts) I use the code and download instead, the disk goes right in the trash.
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Wayne Gibson UK Marketing Manager for 6 years ago
Not at your current prices on Origin they wont EA.
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