GameStop phasing out Xbox One bundles with digital downloads

Kareem Anderson


GameStop has typically been a great partner for Microsoft when it comes to selling its video game consoles, especially with hardware or game exclusive bundles. However, that relationship may be in for some rocky waters ahead.
During GameStop’s recent earnings report, the video game reseller clearly states it will not be participating in the reselling of Xbox One of PS4 bundled exclusives that contain free digital download codes.

If … the platform holders … continue to put in free games as promotional items, we anticipate that at GameStop you’ll see more physical bundles from third parties as opposed to digital bundles. … We choose not to participate in the digital bundles.”

Furthermore, GameStop seems prepare to go atop its Microsoft and Sony connections. In the advent Microsoft and Sony continue to push for digital bundling, GameStop is planning to deal straight with third party publishers such as Ubisoft and EA to get physical games bundled.
While GameStop has previously been willing to sell both the Xbox One and PS4 bundles with digital download codes for games, the company appears to be enacting a new strategic stance.
During last month’s Madden NFL 16 promotions, GameStop ‘negotiated’ terms that found both Sony and Microsoft bundling Xbox One’s and PS4’s with physical copies. The deal was in contrast to how both Sony and Microsoft dealt with all other retailers who offered both digital download codes and physical disc bundles.
[pullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]”people prefer console bundles that include physical game discs”[/pullquote]
COO of GameStop Tony Bartel argues that people prefer console bundles that include physical game discs. However, it is also in GameStops best interest to keep physical disc around for as long as the company can manage.
As GameStops business model is predicated on the selling and reselling of physical game discs, the company’s unwillingness to participate in digital bundling makes sense.  However, GameStops’s efforts may be pushing back against a swelling tide of change. Publishers see increases in digital downloads (albeit small, somewhere around 20%), and online retail outlets such as Amazon and BestBuy are chalked full of digital bundles for customers. As these trends continue to grow, GameStop may find itself in a difficult situation in the future.