EA’s Soderlund: Digital Will Kill Retail “Sooner than 10 Years”

In an interview with CVG, Electronic Arts’ Patrick Soderlund didn’t offer much in the way of surprising revelations. He seems to believe that brand recognition is more important than quality, which isn’t shocking, and parrots EA’s ridiculous contention that providing brand products across many platforms is something gamers who aren’t Farmville addicts think is awesome. But what’s interesting is the way his comments reveal EA’s plans for the future.

EA, as we’ve seen recently, seems damned determined to bring about a world in which gamers are freed of all agency in how they consume games. No more ownership, no more modding, no more playing at their own leisure, they seem to be convinced that an inconvenient persistent-internet, multiplayer only, F2P Ghetto dwelling gaming environment is the thing we’ve been clamoring for. This world would obviously be in their best interests, since it would free them from having to create games people actually like, which might be why company bosses are increasingly talking up the conversion to an all digital marketplace.

Recently, EA Coo Peter Moore said that within 2 or 3 years the gaming marketplace will be mostly digital. Soderlund echos that sentiment. CVG discussed how the transition will come when it’s no longer economically viable to produce games on disc, to which Soderlund said “I think it’s going to be sooner than people think. I think it’s going to be sooner than ten years. That’s my personal opinion, and might not be what EA thinks.”

That is ridiculous. Though I’ve already explained at length why I believe so, it bears repeating that gamers are not going to willingly be forced to subscribe to several services to access their games, nor will they consent to rent what they once owned. Furthermore, America’s Internet kind of sucks. So there’s that too.

Anyway, EA is talking up digital gaming a lot lately, and it’s starting to take on an air of desperation. With their declining stock value and increasingly bad reputation, they must be desperate to shore up future business. But what eludes them is that gamers want fun, good games. EA could make all their problems go away if they just made them. In the meantime, pipe dreams about an all digital marketplace are just that. It’s not going to happen for a long time.

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8 Comments on EA’s Soderlund: Digital Will Kill Retail “Sooner than 10 Years”

goose2989

On August 21, 2012 at 4:54 pm

I get the feeling that you aren’t a big fan of EA, Mr. Lincoln. Which is just fine, because I’m not their number one fan, either. I really hope you’re right, in that this all-digital craze that has taken them by storm is nothing more than a wildly optimistic dream on their part. I have no desire to be continuously connected to the Internet (which doesn’t always run well) to play a game that I bought. Well, supposedly bought, but EA seems to have a differing opinion on the word “bought.”

We’ll just have to see what happens.

Kevin

On August 21, 2012 at 5:13 pm

I worked for a company, a tier one supplier in the auto industry around the time GM went bankrupt. This company had a ton of huge ideas about supply chain integration and IT infrastructure upgrades that would make us profitable “long-term.” Yet they were bleeding money out of every orfice possible short term. 4 years later, most of that “long-term” is gone, those upgrades never happened, and they’ve lost probably 60% of their work force.

All this talk about long-term profitability for EA sounds nice, but what are they doing to survive in the short-term.

gasmaskangel

On August 21, 2012 at 7:21 pm

I must stand in humble awe of both Mr Soderlund for being able to spout such laughable idiocy with a straight face, and to any journalist actually capable of interviewing him without laughing.

Patches

On August 21, 2012 at 10:01 pm

EA will kill itself “Sooner than 10 Years”…

JawaEsteban

On August 22, 2012 at 12:28 am

Everything coming from EA lately is starting to look like a script for SNL. It’d be hilarious if not for the fact that I think they’re serious. The only thing missing from Soderland’s presentation is Timberlake in the background performing ‘D#@k in a Box’.

R.J.

On August 22, 2012 at 1:35 pm

I have to agree with the last paragraph. A lot of EA’s problems would go away if they didn’t try to get “clever” with their games and just focused on making solid games that people want to buy. Don’t focus on how much money Activision gets from COD because you won’t beat it by mimicking and bashing it. Don’t demand unrealistic sales numbers like 5 million copies from series that never got close to that mark. Don’t try to broaden the appeal of everything by making it look like everything else. Just make good games. I suspect that EA’s devs studios would create some amazing games if EA’s only role was to pay the expenses and not have a say in the development.

BattleaxeMaiden

On August 23, 2012 at 4:18 pm

Shorter EA: “Because we want it sooooooooooo baaaaaaaad!!” Snortle.

Zach

On September 1, 2012 at 12:54 am

Spectrum Crunch, it’s a real thing and he’s a fun little video explaining why Digital Distribution will be hamstrung by it before the idea properly leaves the gates:

http://penny-arcade.com/patv/episode/spectrum-crunch