As I write this, video game retailer GameStop is selling used copies of the Xbox One launch title Ryse: Son of Rome for $38. Last week, it had been charging $55 for the game, but it seems to have cut its price following an aggressive move from Microsoft .
On Tuesday, Microsoft began selling the digital version of Ryse for just $40 (regularly $60). There are some obvious drawbacks to the digital version -- the game can't be resold or lent to friends -- but at a 33% discount, those shortcomings are easily overlooked.
Following the announcement, I posited that Microsoft had more or less devastated the demand for Ryse at GameStop: Even buying a used copy was far more expensive than the digital version. For the week that Microsoft was running that special, GameStop should've seen next to no demand for Ryse at its stores.
GameStop slashed its price in response
It seems GameStop's management came to the same conclusion, as the retailer cut the price of Ryse to $38 -- exactly $2 less than what Microsoft was charging for the digital copy, and perhaps enough to nudge would-be buyers over to GameStop's side. But even if GameStop managed to recapture sales it would've otherwise lost, the effect is ultimately just as detrimental: By offering a digital sale, Microsoft weighed on GameStop's profit, effectively taking about $17 out of GameStop's pocket for every copy of Ryse they sold at the new, reduced price.
This game could end very interestingly. Depending on how you look at it, it will either:
A. End with Gamestop lower costs of used games at least buy an affordable amount even if the game had been out only for 3 months. In turn, used games may rise, especially for purchases, but ONLY if Gamestop decides to do this. Which is a 50/50 chance.
B. It will end with Gamestop being stubborn, and despite the hate for the company, used games will take a large hit, and it may lead to the end or make used games a niche.
C. it will end with more Xbox hardware and software sales, and then Microsoft will retract their price drop, at least not fully, but will probably make it slightly less than Gamestops prices, so Gamestop will charge $55 for used games again and this will have no effect beyond this point.