EA CEO: Digital Sales Will Beat Retail in 2011

By Brian Leahy, Jan 10, 2011 3:00pm PST In an interview with IndustryGamers, Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello is quite confident that digital video game sales in 2011 will be a bigger business than those sold at retail by the end of the year.

At the end of [2011], the digital business is bigger than the packaged goods business, full stop. No questions in my mind. Then, you know, I think that we'll find ways to even sell our packaged goods content in chunks and in pieces and subscriptions and micro-transactions,

Even more shocking is the amount of money some users are giving to EA for free-to-play games like FIFA Ultimate Team. "We have people who are giving us $5,000 in a month to play [it]. And it's free. Dirty little secret." Yikes!

Riccitiello also speaks some about free-to-play MMORPG's, specially mentioning Lord of the Rings Online and what Warner Bros. and Turbine have done with that property.

While I still think the majority of their revenue is from people giving them the premium subscription for fifteen dollars a month, there's a lot of people coming in and they upgrade. I'm not sure that fifteen dollars deal is that great a deal, but that's a separate issue. I guess to best answer your question, I think these business models are going to find their own feet. We're very careful about making sure we price appropriately for platform and also for the intellectual property.

Warner Bros. and Turbine have been quite vocal about the success of Lord of the Rings Online since transitioning to free-to-play and have also done the same with Dungeons & Dragons Online.

I think the important thing to remember is that Riccitiello is talking about overall sales via digital means versus retail, not necessarily for sales of a specific product. For example, he isn't necessarily saying that every game will sell more digitally than through retail in 2011.

Click here to comment...


14 Threads* | 33 Comments

  • For PC games, I consider it to be a no-brainer why many are bought online now.

    I'm given the option of buying a PC game from Gamestop or Wal-Mart, essentially. Gamestop is completely out of the question because 1. They only have 5 or so PC games in stock at any given time, and 2. All the PC games they have have been opened, with the contents given to you after purchase. Have one GS employee "forget" to give you your serial key for bonus content or the game itself, and you'll never do that again. That leaves Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart's fine if you don't mind picking from the 15 games they have that are still at MSRP, despite the game being 2 years old.

    That leaves ordering online from a site like Amazon if you want a physical copy. Or I could go elsewhere on the internet, buy the game, and play it shortly instead of having to wait the week for it to come in the mail.