GameStop CEO Paul Raines thinks game discs will be around forever, which should be obvious since he hasn’t cashed out and run for the hills in terror.
In a widely-shared quote, Raines said that there will never be a time when games are delivered exclusively via digital distribution.
“Disc-based games will be around forever,” he told Fortune.
“The market has seen physical music sales down 50% from its peak and physical movie sales down 60% from its peak, but even in a doomsday scenario, disc-based games will be around for a long time.
“I see a complimentary business where we sell discs plus download like the current console mode. Virtual reality games will also likely follow this model.”
Raines’s comments raise a lot of talking points. Retail reports have become almost useless for measuring the health of the industry and the sales performance of individual titles; as such, watching something like the NPD’s monthly reports gradually trend downwards over a decade could lead you to believe that the age of physical games is ending.
However, it’s worth noting that there are still huge numbers of gamers whose Internet connections simply don’t allow for the sort of download sizes modern games demand. And those of us who buy loads of games every year don’t have the same consumption patterns as, for example, Call of Duty’s 30 million or so annual consumers – something many of us forget when discussing what “gamers” do and don’t want, and who actually shores up this enormous, groaning beast of a medium.
Anyway, GameStop is in the business of making money and if a hybrid disc and digital voucher system wasn’t working for it, it’d transition or shut up shop. Although Raines’s comment is probably intended to calm frightened investors, it’s not necessarily incorrect.