Sony confirmed recent rumors that consumers will no longer be able to purchase digital PS4 or PlayStation Vita games at retail locations beginning April 1. Instead, digital copies can only be purchased directly through the PlayStation Network store online or via the PlayStation 4 or Vita storefronts.
The confirmation comes a few days after rumors started. The message was first sent to retailers like GameStop, but today, Sony released an official statement announcing the change:
We can confirm that as of April 1, 2019, Sony Interactive Entertainment will no longer offer full games through SIE’s Global Digital at Retail program. This decision was made in order to continue to align key businesses globally. To support full games and premium editions, SIE will introduce increased denominations at select retailers. DLC, add-ons, virtual currency, and season passes will still be available.
This means a few different things. The repercussion that might affect most people is that trade-in credit at places like GameStop and Amazon can no longer be used to fund purchases of full digital games. The same applies to gift cards.
However, consumers can still purchase DLC, add-ons, and in-game money, along with season passes and PSN cards, through retailers. Credit or gift cards could, thus, still be used. Sony said it would ensure a wider variety of PSN card values would be introduced to help make up the difference between the values currently available and the cost of games.
In short, it’s not as big a change for consumers as it might first appear, essentially only requiring an extra step if one wishes to buy a game or currency from a retailer still.
What the «business alignment» might be remains something of a mystery outside the more apparent benefit of increased profit for Sony by cutting out the middleman.
The company has been making big changes this year already, from skipping E3 to introducing a Nintendo Direct-style presentation to announce new games. Its ultimate vision is still unknown, but this move seems to be yet another small step towards realizing whatever goals Sony has for the future.