Physical Starfield Copies Will Not Include Discs

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Story Highlights

  • Physical copies of Starfield will not include a disc, only a code to download the game.
  • Many games have gone all digital in the past few years, marking a decline in physical game sales.
  • Game developers and platforms get a bigger cut of revenue through digital sales.

Starfield is going all digital. Yes, even if you purchase a physical copy of the game, there will be no disc inside the box; only a code to download Starfield to your Xbox or PC. This is according to the Bethesda support Twitter page, which confirmed that Starfield’s physical release will not include discs in the box (the tweet has now been deleted).

For many, this could be a bummer. Discs represent total freedom for some gamers, a sign that you “own” the game that you bought. Some prefer to have physical copies of their game. Still, physical game sales are in decline, with one gaming analyst predicting that physical game discs will be obsolete by 2028, as publishers and game developers want to keep as much revenue as possible.

With a digital game sale, there is typically a 70/30 revenue split between the game publisher and the console platform. In Microsoft’s case, it collects 100% of Starfield’s revenue due to its ownership of Bethesda. With physical game sales, that 70/30 revenue split gets watered down more, with license fees, manufacturing costs, and retail store cuts gutting revenue for publishers and game developers. 

a $70 game will net roughly $35 to the publisher if it is sold physically and will net $45.50 if sold digitally, so there is a financial incentive for many companies to abandon physical game sales. Video games are expensive to make, and publishers want to cut down costs by as much as possible, while platform owners want to collect as much revenue from game sales as possible. 

Multiple editions of Starfield were announced, with the Premium and Constellation editions including a steel book display case without any discs to hold inside of them, which is unusual for a steel book release, which is typically a higher-end box to hold your game disc. The higher-end Starfield editions even specifically say that a digital game download is included. 

Is this the end of the physical game disc? Perhaps, since the biggest first-party Xbox game in years will not have disc versions. We saw this coming a mile away when the all-digital PS5 and the all-digital Xbox Series S were released. When was the last time you found a new TV with a disc drive? The end of the physical game might just be inevitable, but we will have to wait for the next console generation in around 2028 to find out. 

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