The Price of Games – Regional Rip Offs

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Sometimes I buy games online. No need to leave the house and interact with people. I don’t need SPF90+ sunblock to avoid the hole in the ozone layer or tool up with weapons to get past the funnel-web spiders on every street corner.

Steam is great for this they have all sorts of specials and bundles. Something occurred to me recently though. If the Aussie dollar is now stronger than the U.S. dollar, shouldn’t video games be getting cheaper for me? Sadly this is not the case.

I hear all the time about Americans paying no more than $50 for a game and assumed that it was just a difference in exchange rates. Doing some research into the topic (research being an alien concept for a uni student studying journalism) was somewhat eye opening.

Getting ripped off

What you may not realise is that in Australia we pay much more for our games. Most top titles come out at AUD $80 – $120. I can understand paying more when there is extra cost involved with shipping hard copies across the ocean or air to a desert wasteland down under.

Import taxes, selling to a smaller market and adjustments for currency all lead to price differences between countries. However, I cannot understand why we get charged double the price for a digital copy of the same game.

It’s not isolated

GOG.com has increased their prices also. Pre-orders for The Witcher 2 were originally priced at AUD $42.24 but have risen to AUD $62.99. Once the game launches on May 17, the ten percent pre-order bonus will end, the price will be AUD $69.99.

On the catalogue page for The Witcher 2 is a little note for the Aussies.

“Since the AU price is almost $26 more than the price in USD, we’re giving our AU customers a $26 credit to purchase anything on GOG.com.”

GOG.com has legal obligations with distributors in Australia concerning sale prices according to interviews with Guillaume Rambourg, the managing director.

Physical stores in Australia such as EB Games, Big W and Dick Smith electronics buy their games at a higher cost price from local distributors. If online distribution is at half the price I can see how the effect would be a crippled “real” market.

Also The Witcher 2 has had a few censorships for Australian audiences to bring it in line with an MA15+ Rating. The Australian board of classification doesn’t have a rating above MA15+ so any video games must fall into that category or be banned and illegal to import.

But that’s a whole basket of problems for another time.

With 90% more lawyers

 

 Will it change?

Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be any change on the horizon. I certainly don’t want to see an end to “real” stores with their queues and screaming children. But I feel cheated knowing that people are paying half as much as I’m expected to.

For Duke Nukem Forever, I will probably still get the Balls of Steel Edition at an inflated price just because it is pure childish fanboyism that drives me. So expect me to post a picture of the Duke Nukem bust when I receive it.

For other games I’ve got my eye on; The Witcher 2, Brink, and Deus Ex: Human Revolution I might have to look in to other ways to get competitively priced digital copies.

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