While many consoles used to come bundled with physical copies of games, these days console makers are more likely to include a card with a download code for that free pack-in title. That’s no longer the case at over 5,000 GameStop retail stores worldwide, though, where those digital codes are being replaced with physical disc versions of the same game.
The new policy went into effect last month, when GameStop “worked with Sony, Microsoft, and EA” to offer a free Madden disc with console purchases rather than offering the official bundles packed with a download code. GameStop’s bundle was also missing a free 12-month subscription to the EA Access program, which offers a selection of legacy titles as free downloads.
GameStop COO Tony Bartel highlighted the move to physical pack-in games in a recent earnings call and stressed that this isn’t a one-time experiment. “We expect that if a game is provided as a promotional item in a hardware bundle, GameStop will see more of these physical offers than digital pack-ins on upcoming third-party releases.”
There is an argument to be made that physical discs are better for people buying games because they can trade them in or for areas where internet connections are still poor. There’s also the argument that GameStop just wants to continue the cycle of people buying games, trading them in for almost nothing, and then GameStop marking those games up and reselling them. It isn’t the the worst thing GameStop does and it makes a lot of sense with Nintendo games for example. On the 3DS and Wii-U your online Nintendo Network ID does not allow you to redownload games if your system breaks, is stolen or is lost. You’re at the mercy of their support policies to help. Best to buy physical with Nintendo in any situation.
Meanwhile, in my home town of Philadelphia and all over the United States people are paying $1,559.48 for a Playstation 4 that normally costs $400. That’s $1,159.48 above the asking price for the courtesy of renting the PS4 over the course of 52 weeks instead of paying for it outright. The Xbox One has the same price. If GameStop is mildly evil then Rent-A-Center is the decaying maw of satan eating away at anyone who can’t afford to buy something today and wants to give their kids a birthday or holiday gift. RAC has been pulling this bullshit for 29 years.