Xbox would have closed the departments focused on its own distribution of games on physical media. The movement does not necessarily define the total migration to the digital standard, but it reduces own logistics costs, starting to supply retailers through on-demand partnerships and on a smaller scale.
According to Daniel Ahmad, Director of Research and Insights at Niko Partners, some AAA Xbox titles have 80% of their market representation in digital format. Therefore, reducing investment in physical media standards makes sense from an economic point of view, and the cut is already reflected in the Brazilian market.
End of physical media?
Both Xbox and PlayStation have been considering the possibility of abandoning physical media for some time. In fact, even physical games are copied almost entirely to the console’s internal storage during installation, with the disc functioning only as a DRM key to validate their legitimacy.
Therefore, buying physical games does not bring many benefits to players, in addition to the collecting factor and the possibility of reselling or lending the games to friends. Apparently, offering physical media is also an uninteresting expense for manufacturers, as it consumes resources that could be better invested in more strategic sectors.
Some confidential Xbox documents leaked in September 2023 revealed details of the hardware update planned for the Series X and S, and something that caught attention was the absence of a disc reader in the published renders. In addition to the images, the company’s communication strategy also seems to try to present the “all-digital” format as something good.
Naturally, the leaks raised speculation about the migration to the fully digital format in the current generation, starting with the refresh for the Series X|S Pro (unofficial name). So far, Microsoft has not confirmed that it will abandon the format, but closing distribution departments could be the first step towards a future in which, in practice, no one will have games anymore, just temporary licenses for use.
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