EA: Digital-only future for console games is not happening soon

CFO Blake Jorgensen reveals full-game downloads of EA games make up "much lower" than 30 percent of all units sold; CEO Andrew Wilson says Apple and Google may challenge Microsoft and Sony in the living room.

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The future of the games industry may be the near-total digitization of products, but that future appears to be a ways off for console titles at least, if comments from Electronic Arts CFO Blake Jorgensen are any indication. Speaking today during the Credit Suisse 2013 Technology Conference, the executive was asked to say when he believes one-third of all EA games will be sold via full-game downloads, to which he responded by saying not anytime soon.

"I don't know when the 30 percent target hits. That's probably still a ways off. We're much lower than that today on full-game downloads," Jorgensen said.

All Xbox One and PlayStation 4 retail games are available day-and-date digitally, but Jorgensen said bandwidth speeds continue to be an issue for consumers. What's more, the rise in game file sizes has offset increases to Internet download speeds, he argued.

"I think a lot of the constraint there will continue to be bandwidth into people's homes," Jorgensen said. "At the same time, the size of games has gotten bigger and more complex and so it's eaten up some of the benefits of [increased] bandwidth."

Ultimately, however, Jorgensen explained that "the trend is in the right direction." The move towards a fully digital landscape will benefit EA's economics, because digital games have a higher margin compared to physical products, which must be sold in stores, Jorgensen said.

During the same call, EA CEO Andrew Wilson said the recent successful launches of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 suggest that people continue to enjoy a traditional living room console experience. Along with this popularity will come new competition from major companies like Apple and Google, among others, he argued.

"Our market is evolving at a very, very, very rapid rate," Wilson said. "I think that Microsoft and Sony have a real opportunity to build a strong following and a strong install base while they continue to be the single-best way to get high fidelity, high-definition interactive entertainment to your 80-inch television. If you think about Microsoft's strategy--and I think Sony shares some of this at least in their long-term view, of being a broader entertainment device in your living room--I think they have that time. I think that three years from now, four years from now, they're going to be under some fairly stiff competition for the living room, from mobile providers, from Apple, from Google, from Roku, from Comcast, to try and own that living room experience."

Discussion

239 comments
justkickinittt
justkickinittt

I think we can all agree that we love that special feeling of tearing the plastic off of a new game and putting the disc into the system...or maybe it's just me...

pszone
pszone

Sony still has good friendship with retial EA so stop complaining.

YukoAsho
YukoAsho

Well, EA was one of the companies that was also championing anti-used game policies right up until Microsoft got the crap buried out of them at E3, then turned around and called used an "important part" of the industry.

The EA brand is a pimple on gaming and should be squeezed post-haste.  And let's be honest, unless you're in a great spot for internet and are paying extra for the privilidge, you're not going to get 50+ gig games faster than going to your neighborhood GameStop.  The all-digital future is a fairy tale, right up there with hydrogen fuel.

profilia
profilia moderator

Flip-floppers...

Arachnofunk
Arachnofunk

I don't like digital games, it just can't compare to the feeling of having the box and disc, let alone the enormous size of next gen games. A 500 GB HDD is barely enough. 

electrichobo99
electrichobo99

Yea, I think digital copies should be priced like $10 less to make up for the lack of feeling like you actually own something tangible. downloading a 50gb file would take like a week or so on my slow DSL but it runs fast enough to never experience lag during online matches, go figure.

tightwad34
tightwad34

I don't care who says it, it's music to my ears.


JustPlainLucas
JustPlainLucas

Until Internet access is as common as plumbing, it will never happen.  

PlatinumPaladin
PlatinumPaladin

"The move towards a fully digital landscape will benefit EA's economics..." and be detrimental to the benefits of the consumer. Publishers are already pushing across the point that the consumer doesn't legally own their games. A digital only future can only lead to a point where we don't physically own them either.

Digital versions of games are already more expensive than retail versions, and for that increased price you get the added benefit of not having your game completely at your convenience.

Digital only will suck.

atopp399
atopp399

These same idiots acted like full digital was the way the Xbox One and PS4 were going to be.  Also, with these new games taking up like 40GB they are going to have massive server issues and it would be really annoying deleting games that large when you run out of hard drive space then have to re-download them again later to play.  That's a lot of bandwidth and a waste of time.

amaneuvering
amaneuvering

Wasn't EA one of those companies that said a few years ago that by now all consoles would be fully digital or something?

West123
West123

 its funny how people are so fast to forget about GTAO, diablo 3 and simcity...

think about all those people who try to download the next big game at the same time....think how broken its going to be!!! is this the future you want? have both its the only logical solution 

megaanto
megaanto

i for one wont buy digital downloads. im a bit of a collector and am proud of my library of games but what they'll do is remove manuals, which they already have in a lot of new games. then they will take away the box and the disc will come in a shitty sleeve. then they will take away the cover art. in the end we will get a plain disc with just the name of the game and platform printed on it, in a plastic sleeve. people wont be bothered buying the retail copy anymore and they will get their way. wait and see.

superkadeemx
superkadeemx

They were singing a different tune a lil while ago

HapiJoel
HapiJoel

Whats that? EA admit they were talking out of their behinds?

FANTABULOUS! Have another Consumerist award...

boogie25
boogie25

with the prizes of digital downloads, it will never get full digital, i can get box retail game cheaper then digital download version.. shouldnt it be the other way around? So yeah you right not anytime soon as most will buy at retail shop and save few bucks. 

Plus you can sell the boxed version when done/bored with the game, you cant with digital.

Pupchu
Pupchu

I like collecting games, in a sense you cant do that with a digital purchase.

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

That's not what you were saying before Microsoft 180'd, you hypocritical lying pieces of garbage.

bu3aDeL_Maz
bu3aDeL_Maz

they base this theory on games apps, and those are only like 100mb max. Im not ganna download 20 ps4/Xbone games each with 50gb!! 

2 problems, internet sux here and HDD does not grow on trees. 

this theory is irrelevant to real games.

right now im downloading super street fighter arcade edition with 18gb, 3 DAMN DAYS and still 2gb to go T.T ......
 and that's one of the reasons why Steam is not my main resource for games.

Carpetfluff
Carpetfluff

Not while the digital prices are higher than the disc-based ones, and the machines have such small drives in them. Less of a problem for the PS4 owners, but still a problem nonetheless.


Sefrix
Sefrix moderator

"because digital games have a higher margin compared to physical products, which must be sold in stores" I will continue my practice of never, ever buying a digital game at full retail price. 

nedrith
nedrith

Digital games are nice but they have to meet all of the bonuses that physical games have:


Sales, Phyiscal games go on sale all the time.  you have every game company that does sales from time to time.  New games don't go on sale often on the PSN.  Old games yes but they take a lot longer.


Used games.  You can almost guarantee any major game will be $50 after a couple of weeks used.  You can also sell the game if you didn't like it or if you feel you will never return to it.


Giving games to friends.  I have two nephews that live near me and a few friends who also do a lot of gaming.  Every once in a while I give them one of my games.


Bandwidth is also a huge issue.  10 hours to download a PS4 game is fine for me some of the time.  But If I want to play online during that time, perhaps stream a netflix movie or do anything else with the internet it might be a inconvenience.  It's also one for anyone else who lives with me.

Dannystaples14
Dannystaples14

Digital games are seriously convenient.

I've downloaded tonnes of games and unless you have a seriously crap internet service where you pay per MB or some shit you can leave it on over night and it will be done in the morning.

The only thing keeping me from digital is the price of them on Xbox Marketplace and PSN. Games that are years old are still too expensive.

While over on Steam most games have dipped below £5 at least once in the first year or two.

YukoAsho
YukoAsho

@pszone Sony and MS both have great relationships with retail partners, something that goes away when retailers can't make any cash on the games.  Really, it's just EA being immature and not realizing that having good relationships with retailers is a good thing.  Kinda like their stance on consumers.

YukoAsho
YukoAsho

@Arachnofunk For all digital? Haha, 500GB isn't nearly enough.  Killzone: Shadow Fall eats up 45GB by itself, and that's going to be the rule rather than the exception for AAA going forward.  So let's see, 500 divided by 45, that leaves room for 11.11 (rounded to the nearest tenth).  Assuming we don't see companies take advantage of mandatory installs to compress data for installation (and thus make games even BIGGER), that's going to be a lot of HDD management in a year or two.

Or in the case of Xbone, going off to play an older game and wondering why it's downloading again.

YukoAsho
YukoAsho

@electrichobo99 The problem with that is that packaging doesn't take up $10 of expense.  It's more like $3, probably even less now that the manuals are on-disc.

uncle5555
uncle5555

@amaneuvering Haha, glad I'm not the only one who remembered that, see my post above.  And it was last year actually.

flyingdutchdog3
flyingdutchdog3

@jimdove2 PCer's didn't have much choice in the matter ... most stores stopped carrying PC hard copies of games, thus forcing them, for the most part, to download digital copies ... oh and I hate PC gaming .... I have tons more enjoyment on the console than I ever had with my PC.

AM-Gamer
AM-Gamer

PC gaming sucks and you won't change anyone's opinion of that. Nobody wants to pay 3x the price for hardware that delivers almost identical graphics with a few more fps. An all digital future is garbage and a way for them to completely destroy your right to own the product you bought. Its also a way they get away with this free to play scam that all these stupid PC gamers have embraced. But when an entire market is incapable of actually purchasing a game what can you do.

atopp399
atopp399

@jimdove2 Discs aren't holding anything back.  I bought Everquest 2 many years ago on CD and it was like 10 discs.  So, what did that prevent me from doing back then?  What is a disc really doing?  Costing us more money?  Yeah, not really.  The systems will not cost less just because they remove a drive.

AM-Gamer
AM-Gamer

No pc from 2009 would touch the PS4 please just STFU! And you talk about Apple? LMAO they would have released something on par with the PS4 and charged 3x the price.

West123
West123

@jimdove2 yet your car has sum form of windows in it and without ms the pc would never have grown as fast as it did... you most likely have sony patented tech in your house..so ya fuck ms and sony

Sohereiam
Sohereiam

@boogie25 If the industry becomes full digital a large amount of people that works manufacturing physical media for the industry, will lose their jobs, and taxes will increase, which will thin the profit margin making all economy of digital only become meaningless, not mentioning the life style of all middle class citizens to below will fall making all games become much more expensive.

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

@Sefrix I will continue my practice of never, ever buying EA games.

SouthLSoldier
SouthLSoldier

@Sefrix As long as they give people the option thats all that matters. Im quite happy with digital games especially on Steam. My BB connection is ok and i dont really have the storage space for more games. Yes downloading anything over 20gb takes a while but ill just do it while i sleep. Do miss taking of the wrapping from a new game though. New game smell mmmmmhhhhhh.

Zjarcal
Zjarcal

@nedrith Sales? Maybe for consoles that's not common but the Steam sales are one of the biggest incentive to go digital on PC.

SouthLSoldier
SouthLSoldier

@nedrith Does'nt the PS4 let you download only part of the game so you can jump in within minutes?

wasakawaka
wasakawaka

Yeah I don't understand the pricing either, I would have thought that digital download would be cheaper than it's boxed counterpart especially months after it's release but it's not always the case. I think more people would adopt the digital download method if sony and MS would lower the prices.

YukoAsho
YukoAsho

@flyingdutchdog3 Very good point.  Most people seem to forget that the reason Steam took off was that game retailers stopped carrying PC games full stop, unless it was WoW or the casual nonsense seen in the thrift store.  While the side-effect has been to make AAA PC games impossible to find without invasive DRM (Indies can be found all over the place DRM-Free), it was simply the only way to keep gaming on PC after a while.  That's not going to happen to consoles any time soon.

West123
West123

@Thanatos2k @Sefrix i buy ea all the time they wont die so give in to the dark side BF is really gooooood...but and there is a big but just know any complaints you have with the product will fall on deaf ears and your just a number on a spreadsheet  to them

Sohereiam
Sohereiam

@SouthLSoldier @Sefrix Pal, Steam is a rarity these days, Gabe Newel is a decent person, but he can't be at front of Steam forever, once he step down you don't know who gonna be in the place and for how long he/she will be at top.

This was what happened to EA.

Kiaininja
Kiaininja

@SouthLSoldier @nedrith Game has to be programed to support it. Their was a Gamespot article where Sony admits not every game yet supports this feature. I'm confident that at least Sony's 1rst party will implement it but it's the 3rd party developers that probably will not do this because of laziness, budget, or deadline.

Dannystaples14
Dannystaples14

@wasakawaka Yeah well for the release price I'm not too fussed. I think the current next gen price of £45-55 is a little high for my liking but if a game is worth buying at release I generally don't mind paying it.

But it is the depreciation that kills it. Like games should not be £35-40 a year after they are released.

The only games I've seen on Xbox Live that were in the £15 area were seriously crap, I'd never heard of them or they were some random things like PS2 remakes or something that can't logically be sold at full price.

Yet many many crap and old games are still £20-30 and that is not right.

I've got about 50 games in my Steam account. All bar Bioshock Infinite are back catalogue, older games. If you did that sort of buying on console it would cost a months wages.

West123
West123

@Sohereiam @SouthLSoldier @Sefrix your so right EA was once the darling of gaming giving us so much new stuff to play and then the suits took over who had no interest in games but are talented at making money