EA Sports retail store rendering

Electronic Arts has been more and more focused on the digital aspects of the industry over the past five years, having just recently relaunched the EA Store as Origin. So it comes as incredibly strange news that an EA Sports retail store is being opened in, of all places, a North Carolina airport.

EA Sports brand marketing VP Chris Erb revealed the news in a Forbes interview. The first store will be opened this fall in the Charlotte/Douglas International Airport located in Charlotte, North Carolina.

“As pervasive as digital is, there’s still an offline component to acquiring new customers that remains important,” Erb explained. “Our approach is to be creative and innovative with whatever we’re doing offline, and ensure that it connects with our digital strategies.”

EA Sports will look to open up two additional stores following the Charlotte location over the course of the next year. Shoppers will be able to try out and buy EA Sports games, as well as other merchandise, as shown in the rendering above.

According to Erb, “As we look to expand the overall sports game audience, it’s important for us to create environments for people to get their hands on our products and experience how much interactive sports experiences have evolved over the past few years.”

The notion of opening a retail location dedicated entirely to the EA Sports brand — as opposed to partnering with, say, GameStop or Best Buy to set up kiosks dedicated to the company’s games — is unusual. Placing the first such store in an airport is even more bizarre. Even GameStop seems to realize that digital is the future, so I can’t help but wonder what convinced EA that these stores can be a success. It’ll certainly be interesting to see how things turn out and if EA can afford to keep them open long-term. There was no indication if future retail stores would also be located in airports.

One company that likely won’t mind having these stores around is Nintendo, which faces the unenviable task of educating consumers on what the 3DS and Wii U bring to the table, two systems that can’t easily be explained without going hands-on. Provided the stores are big enough, Microsoft and Sony probably won’t mind having kiosks set up for Kinect and PlayStation Move, respectively.

Source: Gamasutra

By Chris Pereira