As digital download codes for video games become increasingly more popular and cost efficient for companies, fewer console bundles are packaged with an actual copy of the physical game. However, GameStop, one of the nation’s largest video game retailers, recently put a new policy into effect.
This policy came to fruition when GameStop worked out a deal with Sony, Microsoft, and EA, to offer a physical copy of Madden with the purchase of a console, rather than the official bundle that came with a digital download code of the game.
The COO of GameStop, Tony Bartel, addressed the move to physical pack-in games and assured that this was not a one-time situation. As Bartel states in a recent earnings call, “if in fact… the platform holders do continue to put in free games as promotional items, we anticipate that at GameStop you will see more physical bundles from third parties as opposed to digital bundles.”
This indicates that in the future of GameStop, it’ll be possible that a first party console bundle, like Sony’s The Last of Us bundle, could be replaced with physical third party games. GameStop CEO Paul Raines is all for physical games being included with a console bundle. He comments on the subject during the aforementioned earnings call, “… Consumers prefer those physical bundles, because they know that the disc has value in the trade-in program at GameStop.”
The trade-in program at GameStop offers customers the choice to turn games they no longer want for trade-in credit or cash back. In turn, GameStop sells these pre-owned games for a lower price and they come with a seven day guarantee. The bundling of physical games with a console purchase will allow the consumer to trade in their physical copy of a game so that they may receive in store credit to go towards a new game or cash for their wallets. A digital game that is downloaded on the console cannot be returned and the customer shall have this game forever.
There are pros and cons to both sides of owning digital or physical games. For now, it seems that GameStop shall do its best to keep physical games within their bundles in order to allow their customers the flexibility of keeping their game or trading it in for a different one.