GameStop has released a memo (snagged by Wario64 on Twitter) that says Sony is no longer allowing retailers to sell digital versions of full games. Those interested in buying digital games from GameStop or unnamed “other retailers” will still have the option to buy a pre-paid PlayStation Store card, but codes for full game downloads will no longer be available.
On PlayStation’s side, it's a move that rolls its digital game business entirely onto its own storefront and cuts, according to the memo, “all retailers; not just GameStop” out of the process.
The swap officially takes place on April 1, meaning that (outside of Days Gone and Mortal Kombat 11) download codes for full PlayStation 4 games won’t be sold at those external retailers. This goes for games that have already been pre-ordered through those channels as well, but GameStop seems to still be working out the details on what it’ll do for people in that situation. The current advice mentioned in the memo is for staff to encourage customers to “switch their reservation to a physical version of the game.”
This also only affects full PlayStation 4 games, with the memo specifically noting that “digital add-on content will still be available for purchase in GameStop stores for all platforms.”
It’s a swap that comes at a bit of a rough time for GameStop. Company leadership abandoned plans earlier this year to find a buyer for the game retailer and, as of its most recent financial report, reported a net loss of $488.6 million for the quarter despite a 10.9 percent increase in new game sales. It’s not mentioned how those new game sales are typically split between digital and physical, but losing the ability to sell digital games for an entire platform likely isn't an ideal situation for GameStop.
Update: Sony has offered confirmation that the GameStop memo is accurate, saying in a statement to Eurogamer that "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."