Retailers contemplating not stocking Xbox products as a result.
Xbox Game Pass is a great move for customers, and a bold move by Microsoft to change the paradigm of game distribution and transition towards a subscription based model, but it also completely undercuts physical game sales, and the retailers who sell them.
We’ve already seen some retailers declaring they won’t sell Xbox products anymore- but are they an anomaly, or is this a widespread sentiment. According to a GamesIndustry report, it sounds like the smaller retailers, at least, are not too happy with Microsoft’s move.
“Essentially, it’s made [our Xbox business] worthless overnight,” Stuart Benson of Leicestershire store Extreme Gamez said. “You’ve got the whole section sat there, and why would people buy a £12 to £15 second-hand game when they can just pay a tenner and get a massive catalogue of titles to keep them going? Effectively overnight they’ve wiped massive value off our company and made it not worth doing.
“Why should we support them and sell their consoles and accessories if we’re going to get very little out of it? We don’t make anything off their digital selection. It’s pretty pointless. We might as well go where we’re supported, which is Sony.
“I’ve got no hardware left, no control pads – and I’m not going to do an order now. I would have restocked normally, but now there’s no incentive for me to do so unless I get something dirt cheap.
“It’s very frustrating, but we can see they don’t care about retail business in the slightest. We got a lovely little plaque last year saying we’re official Microsoft stockists, and that’s a lovely token gesture – but for what reason, because they don’t support us?”
Stephen Stangroon of Cornish indie Stan’s Games seemed to agree with that sentiment. “If they’re going to do this, I won’t bother [stocking Xbox]. You only make £3 or £4 on Xbox games like the new Monster Hunter, if you’re lucky.
“They’ll kill the second hand market. I reckon even the public won’t like it in the end – I sold a Monster Hunter this morning and the bloke’s already brought it back.”
Sholing Video’s Paul Lemesurier says it’s “hard to not have the same stance as the Austrian retailer”, especially when he feels unsupported by companies such as Exertis, Xbox’s UK distributor.
“Game Pass will have an effect on all first-party titles,” he says. “We have already told Exertis we will not be stocking Sea of Thieves at all. Why bother when supermarkets will throw it out less then cost, online e-tailers will break street dates – which are a joke – and ship up to five days before release cheaper than us, and now Microsoft is throwing it on Game Pass for a tenner.”
Chris Bowman from Console Connections in County Durham asserts that indie retailers “cannot remain profitable by selling Microsoft gift vouchers”, and that he hopes Sony continues to support the High Street the same way it has in the past – something he believes will help grow their “already dominant market share.”
“People still want boxed product but with the price of an Xbox Game Pass, how long will they continue to do so?” he says. “If Sony and Nintendo were to follow suit, it’s game over.”
Of course, a handful of independent retailers refusing to stock Xbox consoles and software is unlikely to damage Microsoft in the long-run. Lesmesurier suggests more extreme action may have more of an impact, calling on larger retailers to take a similar stand.
“The whole industry should stop stocking Microsoft products,” he says. “But that won’t happen when most answer to shareholders and only care about the end-of-year bonus.
“They will be the ones to suffer the most when this industry is digital only. No one will walk into a store and pick up a digital copy when you don’t have to leave your house to do so. As it is currently, people still want tangible copies, not a digital copy that – at Microsoft’s discretion – can be blocked if you happen to fall foul of Xbox Live rules or fail to launch if servers are down.”
There are more quotes from more retailers that you can check out at GamesIndustry, but on the whole, yes, it sounds like retailers might refuse to stock Xbox products going forward- which would be an interesting state of affairs. How would Xbox be affected if it was all but impossible for most to buy one at retail?