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"Meaningful" digital sales for Mass Effect 2

Day-and-date download release takes "double digit" market share, despite no marketing

Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello has declared the PlayStation 3 digital release of Mass Effect 2 - launched on the same day as the Blu-ray version - as having attained "meaningful" sales numbers, despite the company not having given it any marketing push.

The Mass Effect franchise was making its debut on the Sony platform, and was released around a year after the Xbox 360 and PC launches - but the platform holder was still "cautious" about the technology infrastructure.

However, despite those concerns the digital version of the game managed to take a double-digit market share.

"Sony had never done a day and day release," said Riccitiello, speaking at the Morgan Stanley Technology Conference in San Francisco last week, as reported by IGN. "They were very cautious about their infrastructure so it was mostly a technology test.

"This was really more about proving it can be done than it was proving what the opportunity would be. So an unmarketed game one year after the original was done on the Xbox and the PC, we released the PS3 and managed to do very, very well with it."

Many have speculated that the logical conclusion to the evolution of the digital infrastructure is the demise of bricks-and-mortar retail - but despite that, there are relatively few full games offered for download via PlayStation Network or Xbox Live.

Riccitiello puts this down to the deals that both companies have with retail for selling their hardware.

"They have got to manage both selling boxes at retail, and it's generally a pretty thin margin business," he said. "And so they basically negotiate and leverage shelf space on the promise of making retail margin on software."

Riccitiello didn't release details on the exact market share, but the numbers are likely to be between 10-20 per cent of the total sales - yet still numbers that will give encouragement to the download evangelists in the industry.

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Phil Elliott