Ex-Battlefield developer Ben Cousins has spoken out about the industry’s switch from physical to digital, and warns that Ubisoft and Take-Two might not survive the move.
The quote comes from an old Gamasutra interview – via OXM – that most sites somehow managed to miss at the time. It took place just before THQ collapsed but it’s every bit as relevant now as it was then.
The interview opened with Cousins sharing his own thoughts on the way his former employer EA approaches the digital sector.
“When I was at EA,” he began, “the public view – and it was also used internally – was that they would transform EA from a packaged goods business into a digital business, and they would always talk about higher margins on digital.
“And for me that was never really going to be viable, I don’t think, just because of that cost of transformation. For me, the best case for a company like EA is just to survive it, at the moment.
“And you look at how the traditional revenues are declining and digital is increasing, but the top-line revenue is basically staying static. I mean that’s not a profit growth, right? The digital side of the business [has to outpace] the packaged goods decline in order for them to get growth out of it.”
Cousins also warned that the rise of prominent indies with a good handle on how the digital market works will pose a real threat to two major players – namely, Ubisoft and Take-Two.
He continued, “I don’t think that any of the [independent] publishers at the moment will be big players in 10 years’ time; I think there will be either companies that have just emerged or whom haven’t been founded yet.
“Ubisoft, I think are in a really dangerous position, and Take-Two are in a dangerous position, THQ obviously aren’t going to be around for much longer I don’t think.”
Would you agree that the two companies named are in a dangerous position, as Cousins put it? Consider that Ubisoft’s digital earnings were up 143% according to its last financial report, equating to some €55.2 million. Meanwhile, Take-Two seems to have all its bets placed on GTA 5 at the moment.
What’s your take on the digital switch? Which companies are doing it right? Which are missing the point entirely? Let us know below.