Electronic Arts’ Frank Gibeau told Games Industry International in a recent interview that he expects the publisher to be 100% digital within a few years.

“It’s in the near future. It’s coming. We have a clear line of sight on it and we’re excited about it. Retail is a great channel for us. We have great relationships with our partners there. At the same time, the ultimate relationship is the connection that we have with the gamer. If the gamer wants to get the game through a digital download and that’s the best way for them to get it, that’s what we’re going to do. It has a lot of enhancements for our business. It allows us to keep more that we make. It allows us to do some really interesting things from a service level standpoint; we can be a lot more personalized with what we’re doing,” Gibeau enthused.

Gibeau assures that physical media will be available if that’s what consumers want.

“But 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.”

That’s a pretty brave statement on EA‘s part. I understand the cost efficiency of being 100% digital, but what about those of us who love opening and owning a game? Digital downloads are terrific, but lack that fresh game smell we love.

Don’t forget, just the other day we reported on Sony acquiring Gaikai’s cloud gaming service for a modest $380 million dollars. Maybe EA is not the only one looking to go shrug off the shackles of retail.