We take a look at inXile's cRPG successor Wasteland 2
Wasteland 2 Reviewed
AusGamers takes a deep and hard look at just what Bungie has to offer in their newest sci-fi world, and just where our Destiny may lay.
Destiny Reviewed
AusGamers had the chance to sit down and chat with lead programmer and local Australian Ian Hern on all things Kraden’s Crypt.
Interview with Ian Hern on Kraden's Crypt
We take a look at all the local talent Australia has to offer for the gaming scene
Indie Friday: A Look at Australian Gaming
Post by Dan @ 05:09pm 23/11/12 | 38 Comments
Since the very early days of videogames, Australian gamers have been paying a higher price for their favourite pastime than those from lands across the sea. Once upon a time there were many valid reasons for this, but are they still relevant today?

The Internet has rocketed awareness of these differences, now affectionately known locally as The Australia Tax, and it endures even in digitally distributed products we buy direct from international websites. But there is a lot of confusion and misdirected anger about exactly who is responsible, and how it can be addressed.

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 discuss what Australian consumers can possibly do about it. Read on for our in-depth analysis.



australia taxregional pricingaustraliapricing





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!
Commenting has been locked for this item.
38 Comments
Show
Close