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The Australia Tax: What to Do About Regional Pricing Disparity on Videogames?
Post by Dan Chenoweth @ 04:38pm 23/11/12 | Comments
In the throes of another holiday shopping season, with the year’s top videogame launches still setting records above all other entertainment mediums, we take a look at the factors and forces responsible for the disparity in retail prices for games in Australia relative to other developed nations, and what Australian consumers can possibly do about it.

Australia has a long history of its residents having to pay more for technology items than consumers in North America, and Western Europe. The initial reasons for this were predominantly a combination of higher international distribution costs due to our geographic remoteness, and minimal economies of scale from our relatively small population.

The situation today, however, is fundamentally different, as many modern efficiencies have largely nullified those disadvantages. For a start, international shipping logistics have been enormously streamlined over the years. Going way back, we’re talking about international freight and customs processes transitioning from printed manifests to computer databases, followed by both laws restricting parallel importing, and most government fees and import duties being greatly relaxed -- replaced broadly with the 10% goods and services tax, and not applying to items under AUD$1000.

On top of that, the Internet opened up direct importing to the average consumer, to a point where the process can be almost transparent today, particularly when ordering from sites like eBay, or online-bookstore-turned-retail-giant Amazon.

Today -- and this is before we even begin to talk about digitally delivered content -- the average Australian consumer is able to purchase many technology products and entertainment content directly through international channels themselves. Even with delivery as a single parcel right to their door, this is still often significantly cheaper than they’ll find the same thing in a local retail outlet -- a peculiar situation when you consider that local retailers are shipping stock in bulk through official distribution channels.

Some might excuse this as a recent aberration of the elevated value of the Australian dollar, having perched precariously above parity with the US dollar now for a period that has defied many professional predictions, but the fact is we were still paying more for most of this stuff back when the Aussie dollar was trading at 60 cents. The recent currency strength has only widened the gap, and made it more noticeable to local consumers as they become increasingly aware of international price tags via online retailers.


5-Year Exchange Rate AUD to USD. Source: oanda.com


So then why do Australian retail prices for videogames still remain so high? The answer as we see it is pretty simple: because we keep buying them. Game publishers and retailers are businesses after all, and as much as we might want to think of our favourite labels as having only a player’s best interests at heart, they are still all beholden to their investors, and need to keep turning a profit to stay solvent.

This isn’t something you’ll generally catch publishers or retailers explicitly admitting, because it’s not good PR to tell customers “we’re charging you as much as you’re willing to pay before turning to other forms of entertainment”, but at some point, all of them have sat in a boardroom and asked “Are enough Australian customers still buying our new release games at current price levels?”, and the answer is still a confident yes. Until that turns into a no, it’s not sensible from a business perspective to expect them to drop margins.

EB Games recently announced that Call of Duty: Black Ops II -- a game they had priced for launch starting at AUD$108, with a Collector’s Edition at AUD$229 -- has broken their all-time pre-order record, in November 2012. In contrast, EB’s North American parent company GameStop list the same products for their customers at USD$59, and USD$179, respectively. The RRPs for most standard edition, new release games from major publishers in Australia hover around the AU$79-$89 mark, compared to US$49-$59 in North America.

When PR does take a stab at justifying the price difference, they tend to mention the higher costs of doing business in Australia, referring to wage levels, real-estate prices, marketing and classification expenses, and of course the 10% GST. But while there is a degree of economic disadvantage from some of these variables that are undoubtedly cheaper in other territories, it’s a stretch to claim they necessitate the extreme differences present on local price-tags. Further, they’re almost all irrelevant where digital distribution is concerned; but we’ll come back to that.

In reality, videogame publishers, and gaming hardware manufacturers set the pricing for their products that will net them the greatest return in any particular market, with Australian markups facilitated by Australian consumers’ enduring acceptance of higher prices -- perhaps once required, but now simply status-quo -- and validated by our continued patronage.

Australia’s brick-and-mortar videogame retailers take more heat than they deserve on this issue too, with EB Games, as the country’s largest speciality gaming outlet, having become something of a lightning-rod for the scorn of disgruntled games consumers.

The fragility of the trade was illustrated this year by the demise of the former number two chain GAME, with 60 stores shuttering, and 280 jobs extinguished. Ignoring for a moment, the accusations of EB’s alleged anti-competitive muscling for things like exclusive pre-order incentives (owed to a reported 35-40 percent market share of Australian retail games sales), it has long been known that a vital proportion of the retailer’s profit comes from the turnover of pre-owned games.


Incumbent Australian Pricing, and the pre-owned trade. Source: ebgames.com.au


It’s not much of a stretch to suggest that EB would not still be around if they depended simply on selling games to Australians at the lowest margin. Don’t mistake this as an endorsement or criticism of any specific retailers, as there’s a lot of ethically-questionable behaviour muddying those waters. Only that at the end of the day, they’re just another business trying to remain relevant and profitable in a rapidly evolving marketplace, in the volatile position of narrow-margined middlemen between publishers and consumers.

As much as conspiracy types like to imagine an insidious collusion between games publishers and local retailers out to fleece consumers, merchants are actually straddling a delicate balance to maintain healthy relationships with both sides. So with publishers wanting to hold on to comfortably lofty RRPs, and consumers becoming increasingly aware of cheaper alternatives, many retailers are now straying from the traditional distribution chain and acquiring stock from cheaper international markets themselves -- a practice commonly referred to as grey-importing, that not only undermines the control publishers have over local pricing, but deprives their local outfits of the sales revenue they use to quantify their success here, and justify their Australian presence.

None of this is helped by the fact that globally, videogame retailing is currently experiencing a significant downturn, with analysts attributing the glut to more global economic woes, and the unprecedentedly long current console generation. Most recently, GameStop’s latest quarterly earnings report (the entire parent company that includes EB Australia) has revealed a significant year-on-year decline, with investors being informed that “consolidated global sales were $1.77 billion, down 8.9% from last year”, and this is despite the acknowledgement that “margins in new hardware, new software and the pre-owned business each increased when compared to 2011”.

GameStop's report clearly indicates that the retail conglomerate forecasts a diminishing future for the sale of videogames on physical media, as the executives spend most of their air-time applauding the triumphs of the business' ever-expanding alternate revenue streams. Those now includes new and pre-owned tablets and mobile devices, a new chain of GameStop Kids toy stores in the US, Game Informer magazine and the Kongregate portal, and most tellingly, a rapidly increasing focus in the sale of digital download products -- from complete PC games, to points cards and DLC download codes for console games, and even Steam wallet top-ups, incentivising players to purchase these items through them to take advantage of rewards programs. The biggest specialty retailer in games is rapidly diversifying because the writing is on the wall for the physical game disc.

While the next generation consoles from Sony and Microsoft will almost certainly still feature optical drives, both are also expected to push on further with downloadable games, as consumers continue to become more and more comfortable with procuring their entertainment media digitally, and broadband connections become more ubiquitous. Other upcoming devices like the ambitious OUYA open-source Android console are foregoing external game media entirely.

But we don’t have to peer into the future to get on board with digital distribution, it’s available now on every popular gaming platform. With the Wii U, even Nintendo are digitally delivering their major titles now; mobile platforms are digital only by design, and since the rise of Steam and it’s competitors, the PC master-race is rapidly evolving out of the optical disc age.

It’s here that consumers are exposed to regional price differences in their most flagrant form, and where we have no qualms referring to it as regional price discrimination, as opposed to just disparity. Of all the theoretical extra costs we covered earlier, for a publisher making a videogame available to Australians, local marketing is the only aspect that is still arguably relevant when that game is being delivered digitally. Yet, simply because we’re connecting to a digital store-front from an Australian Internet address, the price tags can be more than double that of an American visitor -- as the site SteamPrices.com depressingly demonstrates.


The worst of regionalised pricing on Steam. Source: Steamprices.com


When you purchase a game digitally, you are effectively importing the game yourself. You’re visiting the same website address as any other international customer, paying for your own broadband connection to download it, any problems are dealt with via international support services, and submission to the Australian Classification Board is not legally required for a game on an overseas online service to be sold to Australians. In the case of Steam, they still even charge Australian customers in US dollars, only the ticket price is jacked up.

This isn’t the fault of the platforms however -- as evidenced by the fact that Valve’s own games available on Steam are priced the same for all visitors -- it’s once again the publishers that are responsible for setting pricing for their products on these third-party online services. There’s no need to single anyone out here either, as all of the majors are guilty (with occasional exceptions).

Amazingly, the issue has even recently earned the attention of the Australian Federal Government, with a formal IT Price Inquiry being championed by Sydney MP Ed Husic. The inquiry is predominantly focused on the extra costs Australian businesses are burdened with by discriminatory pricing of business software versus their international competitors, but its scope covers similarly-treated digital entertainment, including videogames, movies, and music.

It’s difficult to conceive how any form of government intervention could help matters however, because as we’ve established, local retailers are merely charging prices that their walk-in customers are willing to pay, and the actual customer discrimination on digital stores is happening on international servers operated by overseas-based companies.

Most damning has been the reported “deep reluctance and resistance” of several global tech giants asked to provide evidence to the investigating parliamentary committee, with tech blog Delimiter naming Apple, Microsoft and Adobe among those being derided by both sides of government for their uncharacteristically evasive behaviour.

Although they don’t want to say it, the justification is obviously that publishers don’t want to be undercutting their lucrative local retail markups while Australians are still buying their products. The only remotely valid excuse remaining for the extra charge, is to keep their Australian staff employed, but the method of preventing this on digital stores necessitates the discriminatory practice of geo-blocking, and essentially treats browsing Australian consumers as second-class customers.




We certainly don’t want to see the good people in local publisher PR and marketing departments out of a job, but we have difficulty believing things would really be all that dire if Australian price-points were eased into line with international norms. There’s also an argument to be made of the potential for lower prices to proportionately increase sales numbers -- particularly if a more comfortable admission cost can make honest citizens out of a few casual software pirates.

There’s also something to be said for the value of goodwill toward your customers, a currency a lot of the major publishers are presently running well short on in more ways than just pricing. Indie developer initiatives like the awesome pay-what-you-want Humble Bundle promotions, and online retail darling GOG.com’s unrelenting benevolence, show us that you can even still enjoy success when the games you’re selling are bereft of copy protection -- a trend that we very much hope will continue with the many hopeful crowdfunded Kickstarter projects that have promised DRM-free releases.

The indie developer renaissance, the maturation of ethical free-to-play business models, and the recent winning goals of crowdfunding have shown that games can still be successful when creators treat their customers with trust and respect -- by transparent decision-making, reasonable pricing and avoiding draconian copy protections. Admittedly, these traits are mostly demonstrated today by nimble new upstarts, and emulating them is likely seen as an unnecessary risk for big publishers whose old way of doing things is still breaking launch week records.

Despite technological advances, greater consumer awareness, and proven alternatives, retail price disparity and digital price discrimination on videogames remain firmly entrenched in the Australian marketplace, so what can we do about it?

Like the problem’s causes, there is no one single solution but there are absolutely ways that we can affect positive change, however gradual that may be. Some degree of progress will almost certainly continue to happen naturally, as consumer awareness grows, and the new wave of digital-only, self-published competitors keep chipping away at the incumbents' player-base.

Although we know better than to depend on the success of parliamentary process, the government’s IT Price Inquiry will at the very least serve to enlighten more consumers to the situation when its findings are reported, and there’s a remote chance it could actually steer legislation in the direction of improved consumer rights for digital goods, with respect to second-hand sale rights, circumventing region locks, and parallel importing.


Crowdfunded indie games like Wasteland 2 are widely skipping copy protection.


For the adventurous, international websites that sell redeemable download codes for PC games -- colloquially referred to as CD Key sites -- are an increasingly popular method of liberation from The Australia Tax, and for console players, it’s possible to create a US account and top it up using internationally-procured points cards. But although there is a growing number of reputable merchants now trading such digital goods, we have to stop short of outright advocating these solutions, as there are numerous risks for the uninitiated, or technology-challenged buyer.

Shoppers exploring these avenues should be aware that the mere act of falsifying your address details can leave you in violation of a game’s novelesque End User License Agreement (EULA), and while that’s not realistically going to put you at risk of fraud charges, it does give you little recourse should a publisher or platform holder decide to revoke or restrict your access to their game’s multiplayer services, or DRM authentication servers.

If a game service's geo-locking protections necessitate the use of proxy servers or a VPN connection, or require payment details with an international billing address -- common when trying to dodge Australian pricing on the chief console platforms -- that can add extra technical complexity and inconvenience to the process. On the plus-side, another advantage of sidestepping geo-locks, is the ability to play a game as soon as it’s available in the territory you're purchasing from, which admittedly isn’t often significantly ahead of the Australian release for many games these days (some we even get first, courtesy of The International Date Line), but there are frequent exceptions.

There are also other traps to be wary of if you elect to circumvent such checks in order to access international pricing, like the possibility of being locked into only playing laggy multiplayer games on overseas servers, having to navigate foreign language installers, or manually revert to English language settings after each patch (a particular pitfall of some Russian-sourced keys). That said, the risks differ wildly by game, publisher and download service, and for many games the end experience will be identical to a locally store-bought game.

A much safer option for more patient gamers is the legitimate import route. Whether that’s ordering direct from the assortment of reputable and Aussie-friendly UK, and Southeast Asian-based online stores (RIP Lik-Sang, you were ahead of your time), or from the growing number of grey-imported options starting to appear in established local stores. The wait for international shipping outside of the official distribution chain means that most products purchased this way won’t make it to your hands until after launch day, but you can be much more confident it will function the same as software intended for Australian sale, and be able to quiz the merchant on any compatibility concerns.


Australian retail chain Harvey Norman joined the grey importers. Source: harveynormandirectimport.com


Finally, the absolute best thing you can do, is support the game developers and publishers that are already doing right by us. Unfortunately this isn’t as feasible for console gamers, as platform holders generally hold sway over the sticker price there, but PC, Mac, smartphone and tablet gamers (and expecting OUYA adopters) are spoiled for choice here. Most self-publishing indie developers don’t even consider regionalising their pricing, and if they do, there’s usually a transparent justification like locally-hosted game servers.

Minecraft has now passed 8 million sales without mind to what territory the dollars were coming from, Team Fortress 2 charges every Mann Co customer the same price for a hat, Natural Selection 2 and Torchlight II can be found on Steam for the same budget price no matter where you call home, and the Humble Bundle deals let everyone pay whatever they damn well want.

We also have to give some more love to GOG.com, who have somehow convinced many of the very same major publishers previously discussed, to not add DRM, or regionally markup the classic-era games that they peddle on the service. Not only that, but when they wanted to add CD Projekt’s acclaimed The Witcher 2 to the catalogue, and pre-existing distribution contracts sadly necessitated pricing disparity, they gifted affected customers with store-credit at their own expense, and offered those that had previously paid retail retail for the game, the limited-time ability to redeem their CD key for free on GOG for the same DRM-free access afforded to new digital customers.

These really are but a few examples of industry contributors that see the digital world without borders. The indie scene outside of consoles is blossoming with developers that are just happy that people are buying and playing their games, no matter where they’re from, and spending our money there fosters that mentality.

The major publishers also wholeheartedly deserve our support on the occasions that they do treat us right. Sometimes it’s clearly a clerical error, like when pre-order entries for new games are initially added to Steam at US pricing for everyone, only to later be subjected to Australia Tax -- presumably once the publisher’s beancounters notice -- and other times when a publisher’s regional division is having a sale, that for whatever reason their US counterparts aren’t participating in.


GOG.Com's Fair Price Policy. Source: GOG.com


But there are other recent examples that appear cautiously intentional, such as EA’s Ultimate Command & Conquer Collection, or the Battlefield 3 Premium digital download content collection on Origin that, as of the time of writing, are still priced the same as their US store (and actually work out cheaper in AU at today’s exchange rate). And at the risk of sounding like a GOG-shill, their recent foray into more contemporary games has encouragingly seen some not-too-old Ubisoft games appearing on the service, free of DRM, and regional pricing. In all such cases, we should be telling them, with sales numbers, that this is how we want things to be.

Spreading awareness of price differences, and being mindful of the message we’re sending when we buy our games is the righteous path to regional parity. By all means, pre-order or purchase that Extreme-Uber-Mega-Multiplex Edition on launch day at the local department store if you want the exclusive goodies, and if the convenience and timeliness is worth the extra cost to you, just know that you’re validating the publisher’s decision to charge you more than their US and European customers.

Calling for boycotts is an exercise in futility, and only depriving ourselves of some great games made by talented people. The dynamic may well shift naturally as we sail further into an all-digital future, but in the short term, as long as we keep paying The Australia Tax, they’ll keep on collecting it. Only when more of our dollars are flowing toward fairly-priced products, and away from the regional markups, will the publisher’s hands come out of the cookie jar.



Latest Comments
eski
Posted 05:17pm 23/11/12
Hell yeah, friday arvo at work, motivation is gone, need something meaty to read

:D
Dazhel
Posted 05:38pm 23/11/12
Calling for boycotts is an exercise in futility, and only depriving ourselves of some great games made by talented people.


I'd agree that calling for a boycott is futility as some gamer will always want to play a particular game more than others and be willing to pay more for it so they're going to ignore any boycott.

However, a boycott if you want to call it that - buying games at a price you're comfortable with and supporting retailers that don't d*** with their customers (be they physical or digital retailers) - is the only way that the message will be heard. If publishers haven't got the message by now that Aussies aren't happy about price discrepancies then they're either too stupid or (more likely) don't care.

If Call of Duty 9: Modern Medal Warfighter Ops Spunkgargleweewee Edition is selling for AUD 119.99 and USD/EUR 49.99 and still sells like hotcakes everywhere then perhaps it's too priced too low in the foreign regions.
Woz
Posted 06:33pm 23/11/12
Ahoy there me hearties! Absolutely not one single shred of guilt do I feel about pirating Australia-taxed games. I always buy a legitimate copy of the game - once the price becomes reasonable locally. If that takes a couple of years, then so be it. It also saves on buying games from EB that turn out to be so bad, you delete them from your hard disk 15 minutes after installing them. Try first and buy later if appropriate is my motto. I sleep very soundly at night.
fpot
Posted 06:57pm 23/11/12
Ahoy there me hearties! Absolutely not one single shred of guilt do I feel about pirating Australia-taxed games. I always buy a legitimate copy of the game - once the price becomes reasonable locally.
Well congrats on being an idiot because there are multiple easy ways to circumvent the Australia tax.

edit: dial down the harshness a bit if you are playing console games. They'd be a bit harder to avoid the tax on I imagine.
Scooter
Posted 06:52pm 23/11/12
Avoiding the tax isn't quite the same as feeling as though you've screwed over greedy (price setters here) merchants.

It's a good way to pay a decent price to have a legit copy so you can play online though :)
Zapo
Posted 06:53pm 23/11/12
As 95% of the games I play are on PC, I find this is less of an issue for me as it's usually not too hard to get around it for PCs games. I don't pirate games, if I want to play a game I buy it - but I refuse to pay $80 for the same product provided as a digital download that's $45-$50US.
deadlyf
Posted 07:25pm 23/11/12
I don't remember the last time I bought a game off of Steam, I don't even bother checking the store anymore. Even with sales I assume that Green Man Gaming will eventually have even better sales with far less price bulls*** to wade through, that's if I wait for sales as there is always a discount coupon floating around for that store.

The article seems like it discourages people to look for or use alternatives to Steam or EB games, making CD key sites sound dodgy and acting like the EULA is something that you can appease when in reality you probably voided it by reading it. You pimped GOG quite hard but I think you should have mentioned that there are many more digital distribution stores appearing, I don't want Steam to become like EB games where people still shop there because they don't know any better.
Dan
Posted 08:03pm 23/11/12
The article seems like it discourages people to look for or use alternatives to Steam or EB games, making CD key sites sound dodgy and acting like the EULA is something that you can appease when in reality you probably voided it by reading it.
Certainly not the intention. I mostly wanted to approach all areas as cautious and diplomatically as possible.

As much as I explore various region circumvention techniques myself, the article is written for a public audience, and although there are some great bargains to be had via CD key sites, I feel it's important that people be aware that there's an assortment of issues that you _could_ encounter, that the average games consumer is likely completely unaware of. And although there are now plenty of reputable sites, there's some out there that are not. It's buyer beware, and not everyone is going to have to expertise or research time to avoid those.

Whereas, the physical grey-import channels will be much more familiar to regular consumers, and still send the same message about regionalised pricing.

As for GOG, they simply provide the most concise example because of their clear and direct mission statements on drm and fair pricing. You're right that there's others, Gamersgate springs to mind. But it's more about, major pubs should be more like GOG, rather than, everyone should just buy all their games at GOG.

I agree that diversity in online platforms is a good thing and similarly don't want to see Steam end up as the only way to buy PC games, but as the largest DD platform, it's naturally central to the discussion.
DM
Posted 08:33pm 23/11/12
When games get first announced and open for pre-orders on steam, usually they are the same price as their US counterpart. It's best to snap them up fast or else the australia tax gets added on a month or 2 before launch.
Obes
Posted 08:43pm 23/11/12
You are part of the problem...
Now you are part of the solution ?

Add in a significant negative modifier to your game reviews on any game with regionalised pricing ... bet you won't ... therefor ... part of the problem

Calling for boycotts is an exercise in futility, and only depriving ourselves of some great games made by talented people. The dynamic may well shift naturally as we sail further into an all-digital future, but in the short term, as long as we keep paying The Australia Tax, they’ll keep on collecting it. Only when more of our dollars are flowing toward fairly-priced products, and away from the regional markups, will the publisher’s hands come out of the cookie jar.


"Calling for boycotts is an exercise in futility"

So you are saying not buying it won't stop them from doing it ?

"as long as we keep paying The Australia Tax, they’ll keep on collecting it"

So you are saying not buying it the way we stop them from doing it ?


After reading the article not only has the problem been hidden by a mass of words, but the solution seems to be "cry more".

fpot
Posted 08:54pm 23/11/12
Add in a significant negative modifier to your game reviews on any game with regionalised pricing ... bet you won't ... therefor ... part of the problem
This is stupid because a review should solely be based on the quality and merits of the game being reviewed, not some external factor such as regionalised pricing. The best approach is to write good articles to raise awareness about it which is exactly what they have done here.
deadlyf
Posted 09:12pm 23/11/12
Certainly not the intention. I mostly wanted to approach all areas as cautious and diplomatically as possible.
I think the problem is that the layman doesn't know where to start when it comes to seeking out alternatives and therefor can be easily turned off by such warnings. I don't disagree that things like buying a game that has a foreign language by default or regional multi-player restrictions can be deal breakers for people but they are rare issues and even if they occur in one particular retailer there are plenty of alternatives where they won't. I think if I was a layman reading that article it would seem like way more trouble than it was worth to search for alternatives.

Perhaps as a follow up article you could do a guide to online shopping. You could have a simple checklist for people to go through before handing over their hard earned, encouraging them to make informed purchases. Maybe also provide a fairly decent list of retailers that they can try for the various types of stores (digital, grey, UK and CD key stores).

Making it as easy as possible for them to change their "comfort zone" purchases at the Australian Tax rate will result in more people moving their money away from the retailers that are charging the high prices.
D3FCON
Posted 09:31am 24/11/12
STOP BUYING ON ORIGIN AND STEAM FFS GO TO LIKE CJ KEYS AND PAY THE NORMAL PRICE THE REST OF THE WORLD PAYS... That's what i do and that how I say screw you. " Like the Thunfer song in TED lol sing that but change Thunder to Government :). On for example cj keys the developers still get the money it is not stealing and it is legit.
natslovR
Posted 10:29am 24/11/12
This is stupid because a review should solely be based on the quality and merits of the game being reviewed, not some external factor such as regionalised pricing.


Other products are price-compared in reviews so why not video games?

I would expect a review of a TV to tell me that this one is overpriced compared to the competing brands' version, or that this camera is the best in the market at the same price point, etc.
Nerf Lord
Posted 10:32am 24/11/12
When games get first announced and open for pre-orders on steam, usually they are the same price as their US counterpart. It's best to snap them up fast or else the australia tax gets added on a month or 2 before launch.

Yeah I was actually kind of interested in the new tomb raider, then the price went up and nope.
greazy
Posted 11:30am 24/11/12
Other products are price-compared in reviews so why not video games?I would expect a review of a TV to tell me that this one is overpriced compared to the competing brands' version, or that this camera is the best in the market at the same price point, etc.

Because, NatslovR, uh like video games is art and you can't put a price on art duh!

I don't see a problem avoiding a game (or waiting for a sale) because of the price.
Phar4oh
Posted 12:31pm 24/11/12
Excellent article. I think the biggest trigger for change is firstly gamer awareness for the best/cheapest options available, and articles like this are a step in the right direction.

If gamers refuse to pay top dollar for the game, then retailers will have to adapt and price accordingly.
Reverend Evil
Posted 01:03pm 24/11/12
I've stopped paying over $50 for a game now. If there's something new I'll just wait until it's on special and then grab it. Plus I've made to many dumb purchases like doing the whole pre-order thing months in advance and then finding out the game sucks. Also don't bother with those big collector's editions either. All the usless crap that comes with them like cards/fotos, in game pet, figurine. All that junk just gets chucked in the bin anyway.
Wrecktim
Posted 01:18pm 24/11/12
as a console gamer these days. im happy to pay the $69 that jb and big w have their new releases at. compared to the $99 all the other stores still do. otherwise i'll import it.
deadlyf
Posted 02:57pm 24/11/12
Yeah I was actually kind of interested in the new tomb raider, then the price went up and nope.
Then go somewhere else, isn't that the point of the article?

You can preorder it for $34 from http://www.greenmangaming.com/ right now with their 25% coupon GMG25-G4VDR-0ZL4Q.

Incidentally that same coupon will stack with their other discounts at the moment, including the 10% discount already applied to preorders.
Nerf Lord
Posted 04:48pm 24/11/12
Then go somewhere else, isn't that the point of the article? You can preorder it for $34 from http://www.greenmangaming.com/ right now with their 25% coupon GMG25-G4VDR-0ZL4Q.Incidentally that same coupon will stack with their other discounts at the moment, including the 10% discount already applied to preorders.

Does it get me guardian of light and other pre-order bonuses though? >_>

I don't reaaaally want it, it was just something like $42 with bonus games, and maybe just within my weakness range at the time.
Khel
Posted 06:04pm 24/11/12
Other products are price-compared in reviews so why not video games?


Price compared within the same market though, like you said, comparing one brand's television to another. They don't compare the price of the television to the price of the television in another market or another country.

I feel about pirating Australia-taxed games. I always buy a legitimate copy of the game - once the price becomes reasonable locally. Blah blah blah more retarded justification for piracy


This sort of thing is just stupid though, you'd pirate games no matter what they cost, because at heart thats who you are. Don't try and make out its some kind of moral crusade, its just software piracy and you're a cheapass. Theres plenty of legitimate ways to get games cheaper, and if it still costs too much, wait for it in a sale and buy it then. If you can't wait for a sale and absolutely, positively must play it right now, then pay more for it, because its obviously something you want pretty badly. Classic entitled bulls*** where people think they should have access to everything, immediately, all the time, whenever they want it, without having to actually do or pay anything for it.
Denthor
Posted 07:27pm 24/11/12
In a digital age the market is global and the price comparison should be taken on that merit. Any digital product should be sold at a uniform price point - there is no valid reason not to. As far as B&M stores go who's making the money? Is it the publishers or the local retailers? I've been told that the local retailers actually have a lower margin than their overseas counter parts as the publishers/distributers are selling games to them at a higher price whilst they are trying to compete with overseas pricing (only going by what i've been told by a friend if anyone actually has margins please enlighten me).

As it stands B&M stores are going to go the way of the dodo, writing has been on the wall for years. MS/Sony are going to want to get rid of reselling used games and publishers want more control in their games. The only effective way to stamp that out is going 100% digital and locking sales to an account (much like steam). My guess is the next console generation will be hybrid and the one after that being purely digital maybe even just in the cloud (think onlive - on a personal note when that happens mainstream gaming will be dead to me, long live the indies!).

In response to khel with regards to piracy, imo making people jump through hoops to purchase a game legit at what they think is a fair price (comparable to the rest of the world) is just as ridiculous as people trying to validate pirating a game for the same reasons.
tHeBoRg
Posted 12:56am 25/11/12
Received an email from Blizzard to buy StarCraft 2 for $19.99, I thought cool I am not a big RTS person but told myself a while ago if I saw this game for under $20 I would buy it.

The link in email sends you to the American Blizzard store where you can buy the box copy for the said price. However the shipping cost puts the game over what I could buy the game for at a local EB so I click on the link to the digital version.

That link takes you to your Battlenet account, I log in and click StarCraft 2 and low and behold it is $29.99. I do a search on Google and see a thread on the Wow Tech support board someone complaining of this very thing.

A few people apparently called CS and were allowed to purchase the game over the phone for $19.99. I have tried 3 times now with 3 different CS reps and was told each time that the Aussie price is $29.99, that it is an exchange rate difference and there is nothing they can do.

They obviously don't want my $20 and have lost a sale...remember the only reason I tried to buy it was Blizzard sent me an email offering the game to me for $20...lol.
Woz
Posted 11:03am 25/11/12
fpot, Khel: you guys don't know me, so I'd suggest you pull your heads in. I've got THREE bookcases full of purchased PC game software, so I'm not simply looking for a free ride. I never play any game online, because I choose to have a life instead. I'll never purchase Battlefield 3 because the singleplayer campaign sucks and they've removed all mod support. If all software was $20 like Torchlight 2, then there'd be very little piracy. But when games get over $50 and you have to pay more for add-on content which was 'left out' of the release version, then some gamers become angry. I'm one of them. When I've really wanted something like Diablo 3, I've bought it immediately - online from overseas. When publishers are reasonable, so am I. When they're not - then screw them.
ravn0s
Posted 11:12am 25/11/12

A few people apparently called CS and were allowed to purchase the game over the phone for $19.99. I have tried 3 times now with 3 different CS reps and was told each time that the Aussie price is $29.99, that it is an exchange rate difference and there is nothing they can do.


what a load of s***.
fpot
Posted 12:20pm 25/11/12
I've got THREE bookcases full of purchased PC game software
You actually buy boxed version of games? No wonder you are getting screwed. You really are an idiot.
natslovR
Posted 12:25pm 25/11/12
Price compared within the same market though, like you said, comparing one brand's television to another. They don't compare the price of the television to the price of the television in another market or another country.
And that's how the review penalty could work. Retail games all cost about the same, one from a publisher with an Australian tax will cost more than one without it, so penalise it in review.
Crash
Posted 11:38am 26/11/12
If all software was $20 like Torchlight 2, then there'd be very little piracy. But when games get over $50 and you have to pay more for add-on content which was 'left out' of the release version, then some gamers become angry. I'm one of hem.
If its not related to the price, then its "OH UBISOFT HAS BAD DRM IM GOING TO PIRATE IT".
Then you look at a company like Valve, who people praise even though Steam is DRM and they release a game like portal 2 for a cheaper price that is consistent in every region. Guess which Valve game was one the top pirated PC games of last year. People who pirate games ALWAYS have an excuse.
Nerf Lord
Posted 12:15pm 26/11/12
Some of them are probably just broke who no money would be extracted from anyway (who however still probably provide a bucketload of hype for the product, and may enter into the franchise as a paying fan later in life when they have more money, as I started to), but yeah there's definitely people who just refuse to buy, I know one who's plenty cashed up and just refuses to.
Crash
Posted 01:10pm 26/11/12
Some of them are probably just broke who no money would be extracted from anyway (who however still probably provide a bucketload of hype for the product, and may enter into the franchise as a paying fan later in life when they have more money, as I started to), but yeah there's definitely people who just refuse to buy, I know one who's plenty cashed up and just refuses to.
Yes I think I worded it poorly. I mean to say that there are some people who pirate games and will use any excuse to justify them doing so.
thermite
Posted 01:42pm 26/11/12
Some of the best games in history were free, like counter-strike, except you had to get the WON ID which could be tough, but anyone that paid for it was a dumbarse, not that I know anyone that did.
skythra
Posted 02:11pm 26/11/12
"Calling for boycotts is an exercise in futility"

So you are saying not buying it won't stop them from doing it ?
No Calling for boycotts is an exercise in futility. Driving enough support to stop people buying games has never worked in the past nor is there any indication for it working in the future. All it does is a few people miss out on a game that they might really enjoy.

"as long as we keep paying The Australia Tax, they’ll keep on collecting it"

So you are saying not buying it the way we stop them from doing it ?
No, just the solution isn't to buy it in australia, but you've got some comprehension issues.


After reading the article not only has the problem been hidden by a mass of words, but the solution seems to be "cry more".

What are you doing exactly? Crying about crying? Because you aren't driving any new information in what you're saying.

Promoting to parents who don't know better that there is alternatives, is one step further than you're doing, which is apparently complaining that noise was made.

Pull your head in.
tvcars
Posted 11:38pm 28/11/12
You don't have to buy anything if you don't want to. If I offer someone a pencil sharpener for $50 and someone is stupid enough to buy it then ill go buy some more and attempt more resells. No one has a right to intervene with that sale.

I don't believe in this article, its total bulls*** like most crap on this site. It should be obvious by now and I for one am glad the morons in this country are being ripped off like this. We have soooo many f***tards living here its insane. Good on those publishers for ripping of stupid aussie POS's. F*** you!
Pirroh
Posted 12:11am 29/11/12
lol, I like this thread.
greazy
Posted 08:16am 29/11/12
lol, I like this thread.

!
You don't have to buy anything if you don't want to. If I offer someone a pencil sharpener for $50 and someone is stupid enough to buy it then ill go buy some more and attempt more resells. No one has a right to intervene with that sale. I don't believe in this article, its total bulls*** like most crap on this site. It should be obvious by now and I for one am glad the morons in this country are being ripped off like this. We have soooo many f***tards living here its insane. Good on those publishers for ripping of stupid aussie POS's. F*** you!

I kinda agree with your stupidity, the real problem I think is when you are forced to buy the game. In your s***** analogy I can go somewhere else to buy my sharpener (because nearly every story sells one). In tHeBoRg's case, he had to choice but to pay extra even though tehy sent a mass email to him!

Khel: I think some pirates (probably a small fraction) pirate games just to try them, they like em, they buy em.

I miss demos :(
XaltD
Posted 08:21am 29/11/12
Gamers are the minority of the purchasers for games.

The mums and dads are the majority spenders and I base that on being a software manager (Games, CD's and DVD's) and a Sales manager for JB HiFi.

Educating the parents will get the biggest response.
arkter
Posted 10:31am 29/11/12
BREAKING NEWS! BUSINESS MAKES MONEY - BECAUSE THEY CAN! More info at 7 on BASTARD CEO's turning over profits for investors!
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