Speaking to CVG in an interview, EA Games executive vice president Patrick Soderlund said digital distribution's acceleration is not slowing down, with packaged goods tracing a trajectory toward extinction in the next decade.
"We know that packaged goods work today, and the majority of our current revenue comes from that," he said. "That's still a viable business model. But in the long term we'll see more and more people gravitate to downloaded content."
As for when distribution via brick-and-mortar retail outlets will lose viability, Soderlund said it's going to happen "sooner than people think," adding, "I think it's going to be sooner than 10 years."
Soderlund made clear that his comments were his opinions and "might not be what EA thinks."
The executive said that he personally places value on collecting physical games, but acknowledges that the new generation of gamers may not hold this enthusiasm.
"I happen to think that there's something about physical content, like books, that's collectible and satisfying to own," he said. "I still want physical content, but I'm not part of the new generation of gamers. I remember a time when I bought a cartridge and excitedly read the manual on my way home, imagining what the game was going to be like. Maybe kids don't have that anymore."
[UPDATE] Following the publication of this story, EA senior vice president of communications and public affairs Jeff Brown issued a statement on Soderlund's comments to GameSpot.
"At EA, we think the next era of games will be played on a mosaic of formats that include discs sold at retail, digital downloads, apps for mobile and tablets, and cloud-based games," reads a line from the statement. "Traditional retailers are building websites where consumers will shop for downloadable games and services. Both on discs and online, traditional retailers are demonstrating innovation and long-term staying power."
EA's digital business has a been a boon for the publisher. During its most recent fiscal year, the publisher tallied $1.2 billion in digital receipts, with EA CEO John Riccitiello projecting in May the firm's upcoming year to be one that sets it apart from competitors.
"In the coming year, we break away from the pack, with a very different profile than the traditional game companies and capabilities that none of our new digital competitors can match," he said at the time.