GameStop aims to build PC game sales with new digital games

In a bid to expand PC hardcore game sales, top game retailer GameStop is launching a new digital PC game purchase method that gamers can use inside stores.

Starting today, gamers can use a variety of payment systems to pay for the upcoming game, Deus Ex: Human Revolution from Square Enix. The move shows that GameStop is shifting into digital games in a big way and embracing changes that are blurring the line between physical and digital game sales. Digital distribution is a hot competitive market, with rivals including Electronic Arts new Origin digital distribution service, Valve’s Steam service, and cloud gaming services from OnLive.

“This is part of a wider rollout and vote of confidence for PC games,” said Steve Nix, GameStop’s general manager of digital distribution, in an interview. “This shows stores and digital distribution are complementary.”

Gamers can now use any accepted form of payment — including used game trade-ins, gift cards — to purchase brand new titles. Deus Ex: Human Revolution¬†is available for pre-order and it becomes available on Aug. 23. But a user could trade in some games today in exchange for store credit and then use that to buy the new game. The user gets a redemption code that they could take home and use to download the title on the PC on Aug. 23. Nix said PC titles were once GameStop’s largest category.

Nix said that GameStop has had great success selling downloadable content for consoles in stores. In that case, consumers can buy redemption codes that they use when they go online. They can download titles on Xbox Live or the PlayStation Network. Consumers who buy the digital PC version of Deus Ex: Human Revolution can get a bunch of extras, like a digital version of Deus Ex: Game of the Year Edition and Deus Ex: Invisible War; the Explosive Mission DLC Pack for in-game use in Deus Ex: Human Revolution; and double points toward GameStop’s reward system, PowerUp Rewards.

Grapevine, Texas-based GameStop operates 6,753 stores in 17 countries, but it is moving fast to become a digital online retailer in recognition of the shift from physical to digital retailing. The company bought the Impulse digital download technology, indie game portal Kongregate.com and the Spawn Labs game streaming technology as well.

Some game developers hate the fact that GameStop sells a lot of used games, which do not generate any revenue for game developers. But by promoting the sale of new games, GameStop can claim that its used game sales aren’t hurting developers. Nix said the digital purchasing is more convenient for gamers, since they can purchase a hot new game even if physical copies are sold out.