Update: Best Buy has confirmed it will stop selling Blu-rays and DVDs after the 2023 holiday season. They will continue to sell physical video games for now.
Original story: For years there has been a battle between game publishers and a certain segment of gamers over physical games – while publishers would clearly prefer an all-digital future, many consumers still want physical games. Well, the battle lines may be shifting as it appears that retailers may no longer be interested in selling these physical toys.
According to a new report from The Digital Bits, an insider blog dedicated to DVDs and other boxed entertainment, Best Buy plans to move away from physical media entirely in early 2024. While the blog focuses specifically on Blu-ray and DVD sales, the move raises long-term concerns about the physical video game sales. Anecdotally at least, the Best Buys near me have already drastically cut their video game sections, opting to mostly offer digital download cards. According to the report, Best Buy will not sell physical content online.
Leaving this reference, Limited Run Games CEO Josh Fairhursta guy who would apparently have the inside track on physical game sales, says he’s heard that Walmart is dropping physical Xbox games soon, and that “deeper changes” are likely to come.
“I would expect to see this trend continue into 2024. I’ve heard rumblings that Wal-Mart is abandoning physical Xbox games soon, and I have to imagine that there will be further cuts to the physical gaming sections as we get deeper into next year. […] I would expect deeper changes in their gaming department as time goes on. Retail is becoming more challenging and in-store toy sales are declining, but it only makes sense that they will reduce the segment over time.”
Fairhurst also confirmed that Best Buy ordered far fewer physical copies of games, even for those they were offering exclusive deals on. Unfortunately, this can look like the death knell for physical games. Things like Sony making the PS5 Blu-ray drive an optional extra is working, but ultimately, nothing is going to kill boxed games faster than retailers refusing to sell them.
What do you think; Can physical games somehow last? Or will peeling the cellophane from a new boxed game soon be a thing of the past?