EA CEO: 'Digital Business' Tops Retail in 2011

Love them or hate them, Electronic Arts knows how to make a profit.  This year they're expecting the majority of their cash to flow from atypical means.  In a recent interview with Industry Gamers,  EA CEO John Riccitiello stated, "At the end of [2011], the digital business is bigger than the packaged goods business, full stop. No questions in my mind."

One of the leading publishers in the industry now fully realizes the potential of digital transactions, but how will EA ensure they can capture a fair share of the digital market? Riccitiello continued:

"I think that we’ll find ways to even sell our packaged goods content in chunks and in pieces and subscriptions and micro-transactions."

Referencing Lord of the Rings Online's recent revenue increase, Riccitiello feels the big bucks can be earned through the free-to-play model.

"Our highest ARPU (average revenue per user) are free-to-play games among paying users. You think about that and say, 'how can a free game be the game they pay the most for?' We have people who are giving us $5,000 in a month to play FIFA Ultimate Team. And it’s free. Dirty little secret."

With the move to digital transactions and the implementation of the online pass, EA certainly wants to make sure they're not missing out on any potential revenue.

"[The consumer] may rather pay a subscription price in order to count on what their costs are going to be, but they may want to pay for it all at once and never have to pay for it again. We’re in all of those businesses and I think the way this is going to work is that the models that the consumers like the most are going to grow the most."

Giving users the option of where to spend their money seems like the best method for success for any company.  However, implementing digital transactions in free-to-play games can create a split in a game's user-base.  Personally, I stopped playing NHL 2011's Hockeys Ultimate Team mode because of the inclusion of digital purchases.  If another user can instantly buy a better set of players than those that I spent hours to earn, it feels like it's impossible to catch up.  On the other hand, gamers with only a limited amount of play time can achieve a level playing ground without having to go through the "grind."  Either way, EA gives players a choice and I give them credit for that (but not my digital credits).

What are your thoughts on EA's digital revenue push? Will more payment options mean you'll be able to play more games, or do you just want to make one single purchase to fully own the software? Let us know in the comments below!

Source: Industry Gamers

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