As recently as a decade ago, it was pretty hard to think of a future where you didn’t have to go to a video store to rent a movie. As technology advanced, and companies like Netflix and Amazon have made media streaming the norm, the likes of stores like Blockbuster or Hollywood Video have basically become relics of a bygone era. Their business models just couldn’t keep up with the rapid changing technologies, so they went into the night, kicking and screaming.
Digital distribution is starting to become normal for video games as time goes on as well, and the predominant video game retailer in the United States isn’t happy about it. In a recent conference call to investors (as reported by Polygon), GameStop president Tony Bartel seemed to take a backhanded shot at console manufacturers Microsoft and Sony for their increasing adoption of digital distribution, including their respective services releasing free games to subscribers of both Xbox Live Gold and PlayStation Plus. He said,
We want to help ensure that our industry does not make the same mistake as other entertainment categories by driving the perceived value of digital goods significantly below that of a physical game.
Part of what he’s talking about is the stated dedication of officials from both Sony and Microsoft in offering discounted versions of digital copies of games, in addition to the free games offered to each company’s premium service subscribers. Right now, for instance, if you wanted to buy a digital copy of 2007’s Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare digitally on Xbox Live, you’d have to pay around $20, while the same game in a physical copy can be picked up at GameStop for about half as much. Sony and Microsoft have stated in the past that they want to try and bring the prices of older digital games closer to the prices of their used physical copies, and earlier this year Microsoft even test-drove cheaper digital pricing for Xbox One games.
Since the cost to a retailer like GameStop for selling brand new games is relatively high, that company makes the most money from its trade-in/used games business. If Sony, Microsoft, and potentially Nintendo offer cheaper digital games along with the convenience of not having to leave your house to pick up both old and new favorites, then the once dominant game retailer may go the way of Blockbuster.
What do you think? Do you prefer physical copies of games, or does the idea of going digital appeal to you? Leave a comment below, and keep on playing!
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