One of the biggest downsides to buying games digitally is the inability to trade them in to get money back, which is something that could cause some players to avoid digital games entirely. However, this may change with the PS5, Sony's next generation console.
A recent Sony patent filing potentially for PS5 describes a system that would allow users to trade digital items between users, meaning that players may be able to re-sell their digital games as well as gift them. Gifting games has become an industry standard for most platforms, but the ability to trade-in games hasn't been accomplished by anyone yet, which could equal a few extra drops in Sony's bucket if the features ships on the PlayStation 5.
Of course, a patent filing doesn't always mean that a feature will actually come to fruition, and its entirely possible that Sony will decide to stop pursuing the feature before it's ever actually realized. Therefore, it's wise to take all this information with a grain of salt. However, it is worth noting that other features have potentially leaked through patent filings, like PS5 backward compatibility.
One major question is just how much a digital game would be worth as far as trade-in value is concerned. Players are essentially just trading codes back and forth between each other, so there's no real depreciation on a physical object that could tank value, like getting scratches on a game disc. Sony would have to sort out how much less a used digital code is worth for trade credit on PS5, and how quickly that value decreases over time.
More people are considering the PS5 than the next Xbox, and this trade-in feature could further that gap by a fair amount. Xbox did survey users to see if they'd be interested in selling their digital games a few years back, but nothing ever came to fruition, so it seems that the company has more or less stopped pursuing it.
Of course, if Sony actually does implement the feature for PS5 and it takes off, there's a good chance Microsoft will follow suit and add the feature as well. For now gamers can only speculate, but it appears the next console generation will be interesting to say the least.
Source: US Patent Office