GameStop, as a brick-and-mortar retailer and reseller of physical games, faces increasing cultural and industry irrelevance as consumers continue to move towards consuming more digital copies of games than disc-based retail copies. In June, they announced a new initiative to sell NES, SNES, Genesis, N64, PS1, and Dreamcast games and consoles seemingly as a bid to purchase a wider audience by focusing on the all-physical consoles of yesteryear. Now, during their Q2 2015 Earnings Call, COO Tony Bartel and CEO Paul Raines discussed GameStop’s refusal to retail consoles that pack-in a downloadable code for a bundled game, opting instead for bundles that include physical copies only.
The advantage for GameStop is clear, as a reseller of used games – this helps maintain their ecosystem by the customer buying the game new from GameStop, trading it back in to them used (often for store credit), and then repackaging the game and selling it to customers for an increased price. Or, as Bartel states in corporate-speak, “…we sell things at full price and provide great value through our trade program…”
However, Raines also asserts that “consumers have a pretty strong preference [for physical copies].”
Despite Bartel’s wording that this is GameStop’s “preference,” GameStop appears to be completely boycotting physical bundles from this point forward. Raines states that “…we choose not to participate in the digital bundles,” and Bartel says “[if] 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.”
Do you have a preference for physical or digital media? Sound off in the comments below.