Physical Xbox games may soon be a thing of the past (Picture: Microsoft)
Microsoft could be pulling the plug on physical Xbox games as part of its widespread layoffs across the company.
Following the announcement of Microsoft cutting 1,900 jobs across its video game divisions at Xbox, Bethesda and Activision Blizzard, details around the specific departments affected have started to emerge.
One of the most badly affected appears to be the team behind Overwatch 2, while Call Of Duty developers Infinity Ward, Treyarch and Sledgehammer Games have all been impacted, in what is one of the biggest round of layoffs ever in gaming.
Outside of being another example of instability in the industry, the layoffs have also provided an indication of Microsoft’s priorities for video games moving forward, with Windows Central’s Jez Corden reporting that the company has shut down departments ‘dedicated to bringing Xbox games to physical retail’.
Corden, however, stipulates that this doesn’t necessarily mean Microsoft is ‘quitting physical retail for Xbox games yet’, explaining that they can outsource this to other companies and it might simply be ‘consolidating’ to cut costs.
‘But, it does seem to be the industry trajectory,’ he adds. ‘Writing is on the wall.’
GameCentral has reached out to Microsoft for comment.
While it’s unconfirmed if Microsoft is planning to cut physical copies altogether, the future of physical games has taken several knocks this year.
UK retailer GAME recently announced it will stop selling pre-owned games in the coming months, while US supermarket giant Walmart is rumoured to have ‘discussed’ ending physical game sales in stores – with a recent memo pulling Starfield off shelves.
Last year, Microsoft was rumoured to be planning a new digital-only Xbox Series X, although there’s been no official announcement. This does track with Xbox’s strategy so far though, as it continues to push its subscription service Xbox Game Pass.
Xbox owners as whole already tend to buy games digitally more than those on the PlayStation 5 or Switch, which will further encourage Microsoft.
If the future of physical games wasn’t looking dismal enough, a number of high-profile titles have launched without physical copies in recent months – namely Alan Wake 2, Baldur’s Gate 3 (which is getting a physical version this year) and the upcoming Xbox exclusive Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2.
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