EA boss expects next gen reveals in 2013, boxed games aren't the future

Xbox 720 launch will "reverse" troubling NPD figures

Sorely troubled by NPD findings that US sales of new games, consoles and accessories dropped 29 per cent in June? Kept awake at night by the thought that sales of consoles are down 45 per cent year on year? Fear not, says EA CEO John Riccitiello, for (a) next generation hardware is right around the corner, and (b) the decline of boxed game revenues is compensated by a surge in digital. And who knows - those two phenomena might have more to do with one another than meets the eye.

EA has been feeling the heat in the wake of this month's NPDs, with stock price dropping to a 52 week low. But Riccitiello insists this is down to the misguided perception that EA still earns all its bread from the high street, rather than online platforms (NPD doesn't take digital revenue into account). In any case, the upset could be over as early as next year.


"I think the most important catalyst coming forward is visibility on next generation consoles," he told CNBC. "Because that NPD data - that minus 10, 20, 25 per cent you've been seeing, that canon should be reversed out at some point, probably starting next year. And even though it's not such an important indicator, it seems to be a really important indicator for giving investors confidence."

He took the opportunity to restate EA's interest in digital, in what is possibly the most unambiguous indication of a drift from boxed games yet. "We're an intellectual property company that's doing really well on digital. I think too many people see us as a packaged goods company which is so much our past, not our future."

If you can decipher the finance speak and aren't deterred by that bizarre rustic backdrop, head over to CNBC for more.

It's rumoured that Xbox 720 will focus primarily on digital goods, with recent Rare hirings pointing to a free-to-play focus and analysts hinting at a cloud gaming service. Here are eight sickly videogame franchises that may not survive the next generation leap.