In this case I guess EA stands for Early Adopters.
This news might seem a little strange given what I covered yesterday, but this story actually came out pretty much the day before the European court ruling, so it's hard to say if EA will still feel the same way about it. Still, on July 2nd EA Labels boss Frank Gibeau told Games Industry International in an interview that there was no doubt that the company was moving towards an entirely digital future.
Regarding the move to an all digital output, Gibeau stated, "It's in the near future. It's coming. We have a clear line of sight on it and we're excited about it." Digital is a content delivery method that cuts down on production costs, but the more cynical part of me wonders if the company is being quick to embrace the system in part because of the fact that it currently eliminates used game sales. Strangely enough though, Gibeau further admitted that,
"... if customers want to buy a game at retail, they can do that too.
We'll continue to deliver games in whatever media formats make sense and
as one ebbs and one starts to flow, we'll go in that direction," Gibeau
continued. "For us, the fastest growing segment of our business is
clearly digital and clearly digital services and ultimately Electronic
Arts, at some point in the future - much like your question about
streaming and cloud - we're going to be a 100% digital company, period.
It's going to be there some day. It's inevitable."
I have to admit that I'm a little curious as to how picking something up from a retailer would work. I'd imagine that you'd just get a card with a game key on it in order to activate and download the game at your convenience, although that mostly just seems like an extra step in a system that doesn't really need one.
The idea of a company going pure digital in the near future seems understandable, but still not without risk. Even companies like Valve that have made most of their bread and butter through digital sales still offer physical media where necessary. I think that if (when?) EA decides to go through with this there will be a lot of people looking to see what the potential results will be; learning from what the company does right and where it goes wrong as well.
Origin has been a ... mixed bag to say the least, with not a lot of people overly happy with some of the decisions being made for it. I can only assume that going pure digital will put even more pressure on EA's client to deliver and even attempt to surpass things like Steam, a lofty goal indeed, perhaps too much of one in fact. At the moment though this news is more of an interesting tidbit then anything else. Where it will ultimately end up is another matter entirely.