While nothing official has been announced yet, various reports seem to point in that direction. Recently, it emerged that the majority of Microsoft's teams working on preparing Xbox games for physical release have been laid off, and now, according to another report, many retailers in Europe are simply no longer restocking Xbox titles.
This comes from GamesIndustry.biz boss Christopher Dring, who is usually a reliable source when it comes to industry news. According to Dring, publishers have told him that European retailers are simply no longer stocking Xbox games, which he attributes to the leaked digital-only Xbox Series X update and the fact that sales of physical Xbox games are "really low."
"I was told by a major publisher that more retailers in Europe have just started to stop carrying the Xbox. So they've just stopped carrying Xbox games because the Xbox is so much a digital console now. The physical performance of Xbox gaming is really low and at the end of the day when you're selling a console that most people just download games to it doesn't really benefit the retailer much, the margin on hardware is often quite small so I couldn't confirm that I could can't find out which dealers it is, but it was a really high-ranking European publishing boss who told me that," Dring said.
From the point of view of Microsoft and game producers, it would make good sense to work on moving away from physical sales. All things being equal, it takes quite a bit more work to make physical copies and distribute them. If the console market follows the PC market, in relation to game sales on platforms such as Steam and other "digital stores", then it can only go one way.
However, the console market continues to differ on that front, and here the development seems to be somewhat slower after all. Xbox is immediately the furthest ahead in relation to the digital transition. Whether the layoffs at Microsoft are part of a planned market strategy or whether it is simply a consequence of changing market trends and falling demand is not entirely clear.
Again, Microsoft hasn't spoken publicly about this, and there's a chance they'll never completely shut down physical games, but I have no doubt that the sight of Xbox games on store shelves will become increasingly rare by 2024 Whether you like it or not, Xbox is by now a subscription and digital download brand. Here, the work with their Gamepass has probably done a lot to push that trend.