EA head honcho John Riccitiello has suggested that the disappearance of "a major European retail partner" wouldn't impact hugely on EA as "other retailers will absorb the business".
Speaking at a Wedbush Morgan technology investors event last week, EA's CEO didn't name the GAME Group explicitly, but he didn't really have to. His responses to questions regarding "a UK retailer in distress" were telling enough, suggesting that the loss of said retailer would amount to little more than a "very temporary dislocation" for EA.
"I'm really confident that the consumer that wants to buy Mass Effect or Madden or FIFA or whatever, if a particular retailer is gone, other retailers will absorb the business," said Riccitiello.
"But I think in the fullness of time, I am extremely confident that, whether it's UK or France, or United States, et cetera, the retail marketplace will absorb that business.
"I don't think we're going to – we might lose 20,000 copies of Mass Effect 3 in the UK for the consumer that can't figure out another store to go to, but that would even surprise me. I mean I think we'll sell every unit. So, we love great retailer partners, and we, like I mentioned GameStop earlier and Best Buy and Amazon and others. They're great for us. If one goes away, the other guys pick up the slack. I really don't see it as anything other than a very temporary dislocation."
Riccitiello also pointed out that many retailers are doing rather well for themselves right now, stating that this was because they had "[adapted] well to digital realities", suggesting that those who were struggling had failed to prepare accordingly.
"I think that the retailers that are – a lot of the Mass merchants are prospering right now," he continued. "Not all of them, but a number of them are. The big box guys – different parts of the world have had different, some are doing really well, and some are not doing as well. Specialty retailer, some of our partners are really adapting well to the digital realities and creating substantial new revenue streams, and those that aren't are having a harder time, certainly all those that aren't are certainly talking a lot about it now."
When it came to concluding his talk, reflecting upon the shifting nature of distribution, and the preparations (or lack thereof) of those involved, Riccitiello simply stated that "ours is not a very forgiving [industry]".