Update: Best Buy has confirmed they 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 now there’s been a battle between game publishers and a certain segment of players over physical games – while publishers would clearly prefer and all-digital future, many consumers still want physical games. Well, the battlelines may be changing, as it seems brick-and-mortar retailers may no longer be interested in selling those physical games.
According to a new report from The Digital Bits, an insider blog devoted to DVDs and other boxed entertainment, Best Buy is planning to get out of physical media altogether in early 2024. While the blog specifically focuses on Blu-ray and DVD sales, this move raises long-term concerns about physical video game sales. At least anecdotally, the Best Buys near me have drastically cut back on their video game sections already, opting to mostly offer digital download cards. According to the report Best Buy won’t sell physical media online either.
Jumping off from this report, Limited Run Games CEO Josh Fairhurst, a guy who would obviously have the inside track on physical game sales, says he’s heard Walmart will be dropping physical Xbox games soon and that “deeper changes” are likely coming.
“I would expect to see this trend continue in 2024. I’ve heard rumblings that Wal-Mart is dropping physical Xbox games soon, and I have to imagine further cuts to physical gaming sections will be made as we get deeper into next year. […] I’d expect deeper changes in their gaming department as time goes on. Retail is becoming more and more challenging and in-store game sales are declining, only makes sense they’ll reduce the department in time.”
Fairhurst has also confirmed Best Buy has been ordering far fewer physical copies of games, even ones they made exclusive deals for. Unfortunately, this may be what the death knell for physical games looks like. Things like Sony making the PS5 Blu-ray drive an optional add-on has an effect, but ultimately, nothing is going to kill boxed games faster than retailers refusing to sell them.
What do you think? Can physical games hold on somehow? Or is peeling the cellophane off a new boxed game soon going to be a thing of the past?