That game you’ve been waiting to pick up from last fall is probably a lot cheaper on store shelves than it is on the Xbox Live or PlayStation Store marketplace, and there’s a good reason for that.
Ubisoft announced financial results for its first fiscal quarter today and explained the reasoning behind that when asked by an analyst.
Consoles and console games have a different relationship with retail when compared to PC. There’s still a greater level of dependency there. CEO Yves Guillemot explained that the prices on digital versions stay high while retail prices are dropping so that all those discs retailers ordered can keep flying off the shelf. If a big retailer like Walmart or Amazon sees someone like Ubisoft or EA undercutting them on a digital marketplace while they still have stock on the shelves, they’re not going to be pleased, and those orders still start to shrink.
While digital sales for console games are improving, they’re not there yet, though Guillemot expects the shift to continue. He believes that as the shift continues to move to the market we see with PC gaming, the price difference will even out.
Older games are a bit different.
“When games are older than one year, digital is a lot more dynamic on console because there are less units in stores,” Guillemot said. In short, there’s no competition with retailer supplies, and publishers can price their older products appropriately for the market.
As gamers push more and more for digital downloads, we should see the market start to shift and prices start to drop. For now, though, the disc might be the cheaper way to go for a bit longer.