GameStop Dropkicks Console Bundles With Digital Games, Insists On Physical Copies

Unless you've found a spectacular deal, there's really no reason to buy a game console that doesn't come with bundled extras, usually in the form of a free title or two. Sometimes the game bundles come in digital form, which means you won't find them at GameStop.

That's because GameStop has made it a policy to not sell console bundles with digital games. The games retailer will only carry game bundles with physical copies, and if only a digital bundle exists, it will work with companies to include one. This is what took place when stores were selling Xbox One and PlayStation 4 consoles with a digital code for Electronic Arts' Madden NFL 16.


To ensure GameStop didn't miss out on the promotion, it worked with all three companies to reach an agreement that would allow it to bundle a physical copy of Madden NFL 16 with any new Xbox One or PS4 it sold. That's the way it's going to be going forward.

It's not surprising to see GameStop take a hard stand against digital game bundles. After all, its business model is based on game trade ins, and currently that's not something than can be done with a digital copy.

"We worked with our partners -- clearly what is -- what took place last year were there were a lot of hardware promotional offers that were given where there was a packed in digital game and it was packed in for free. I think we articulated in the first quarter that we have made it clear with our publishing partners that our preference is that we sell -- obviously, GameStop 's preference is -- we sell things at full price and provide great value through our trade program and that we have physical discs," GameStop COO Tony Bartel said (PDF) during a conference call with investors.

Bartel believes GameStop's stance will encourage and lead to more physical game bundles versus digital copies in the future, though if not, it will find itself in a position of having to negotiate time and again with publishers.

What's also interesting about GameStop's decision is that this is a temporary solution. Digital content is quickly becoming the norm and physical media the exception. GameStop's strategy might work in the short term, but if it's to continue to thrive on game trade ins, it will have to figure out a long term strategy too.