Best Buy may not be the only retailer to stop shelving physical media in 2024: Reports say that Wal-Mart could remove Xbox games from its inventory sometime next year.
Retailers are no stranger to nixing products from store shelves. Online direct-to-consumer commerce has put a squeeze on big box retailers to only stock items that can be sold at a profit--or as near a profit as possible--and to cut out things that just don't move volume.
Now that consumers have shifted towards digital media via subscriptions and direct purchases, retailers like Best Buy have decided to stop selling physical DVDs and Blu-rays altogether. Best Buy will still sell games across Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo, but the same may not be able to be said for the world's largest retail chain.
Reports indicate that Wal-Mart will stop selling physical Xbox game discs in stores as soon as 2024, which plays right into Microsoft's digital-first strategy with the Xbox brand. The news tidbit comes by way of Limited Run Games CEO Josh Fairhurst, who runs a company dedicated to game preservation and releasing physical copies of specific games.
"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," Fairhurst said on Twitter.
Given Fairhurst's position in the video games industry, these rumblings might be true. Fairhurst is as close as you can be to the physical media market and the transition towards digital entertainment appears to be rapidly accelerating as more companies focus on maximizing profits through reduction of costs.
If accurate, the decision also speaks volumes about product demand. Xbox is firmly in third place insofar as console sales and Xbox owners are funneled towards Microsoft's digital Xbox Game Pass subscription for their catalog gaming needs. The subscription also offers discounts on newly-released games and reduces friction of access.