EB Discusses Its Decision To Grey Import Star Wars: The Old Republic

Today we revealed that EB Games is selling grey imported copies of Star Wars: The Old Republic in stores across Australia, but there are some unanswered questions. The Old Republic isn't your typical game, it's hardly a product you can buy, install and forget about: Australian players will require ongoing support, they'll have to deal with overseas servers, and potential issues regarding retail keys not working out of the box? How will these problems be rectified considering the fact there is no local infrastructure available in Australia?

We spoke to EB Games to get some answers.

According to EB, its stores began importing and selling Star Wars: The Old Republic because EA and Bioware hadn't yet provided an official release date for the game.

"As no official release date has been announced for Star Wars: The Old Republic in Australia," began the EB spokesperson, "EB Games has seen it in the best interest of our customers to make available imported copies of the game from today to avoid further disappointment felt by the game's avid Australian fan base."

EB believes any issues local customers that arise in Australia will be adequately dealt with. There's no need to incur huge phone bills when customers can use a variety of different online services to solve their problems.

"Should customers require assistance with any issues, there are a variety of ways to reach customer service overseas without the need to incur any cost including blogs, forums and email via Bioware’s world-class online support centre," said the spokesperson.

The Old Republic's launch, for the most part, has gone reasonably well, but there have been some issues -- online queues, connection issues. The most worrying problem for Australian consumers purchasing the game early, however, is the fact that some retail boxes have keys that haven't been activated on the overseas servers. Bioware has been dealing with that issue by providing new keys over the Origin service. However, since the game hasn't been launched in this region yet, that won't work for Australians. What happens then?

We spoke to NSW Fair Trading, who informed us that, since the game is being grey imported by EB Games, any issues players have with Star Wars: The Old Republic is EB's direct responsibility. In NSW, at least, EB are legally bound to give gamers a full refund if they have any problems with the game.

"The Retailer has an obligation to fix the problem, and consumers only have to deal with the retailer as far as this is concerned," claimed the Fair Trading representative. "The retailer must offer a refund or an exchange and consumers don't have to accept the exchange."

According to NSW Fair Trading, this doesn't just apply to issues where the game's key doesn't work. If consumers are having online issues, such as lag from playing on overseas servers, the retailer still has to provide a refund if the consumer isn't satisfied.

EB, however, seems to have accepted this responsibility. EB is informing consumers who purchase Star Wars: The Old Republic that the game is an import version, and claims that any issues players have will be resolved quickly and effectively.

"EB Games prides itself on providing superior product and customer service to our loyal customers," claimed the EB rep. "While we haven’t encountered any issues surrounding retail keys, we can ensure that any problems that may arise will be resolved promptly via our customer service team.

"EB Games number one priority is our customers. We work closely with all of our partners to ensure that we can deliver a superior experience for them and will continue to do so in the future."


    EB Games has seen it in the best interest of our customers to make available imported copies of the game from today to avoid further disappointment felt by the games avid Australian fan base.

    "We saw that there were enough Australian players to flood multiple servers, despite the lack of an official release, and we want money to go to us instead of Amazon."

      The 2 statements are not mutually exclusive, providing a service at a profit is the whole structure of retail

      Well, they are a retailer and EA's decision was affecting their bottom line...

      Alright, what is this quote wizardry?

        Oh, I know everything about Kotaku commenting wizardry >:3
        Anyway, you use the html tags quote & /quote

          the thing here is that EB is actually making money while not charging stupidly high prices because they dont have to deal with the local distrubtor who is gouging them.
          Normally EB and and the rest og the stores would buying games from the local distrubtor at 60-70AUD

    There's probably a reason that EA/Bioware haven't set an Australian release date.

    Apart from a refund, I can't see what EB could do if a serious issue arises.

      It's because Telstra (and probably our geography) make us a very very VERY expensive place to launch any kind of online service, let alone a ridiculously huge MMO. We're too small and too distant to affordably deal with; they'll only release here in the future to maintain their reputation, not to make money.

      Australia just does not matter for non-resources, non-agriculture commerce.

        Nothing to do with Geography. All to do with pricing and yes Telstra (as the monopoly provider of bandwidth and visa-vis the key pricing agent of remote access servers). I could bore you with details but for the quick and nasty look at the price of getting a dedicated server in the US vs the price of getting a comparable one here.

          Hey, I have time if you do. I'd love to hear in specific detail the precise extent to which Telstra screw us all over.

            I too would like to learn the ways of the devil before I go to Aldaraan

            Speak to their customer service and then you will understand the extent of screwing upon us. i havent been able to walk straight since leaving them..

    Understandable. EB wants a slice of the pie and can get a bigger one by selling now.

    I think EA and Bioware made a big mistake not having Australia released at launch. Its always possible to add the servers after launch...


      There are working with marketing from the dark ages, in a world where digital distribution or international shipping are just a click a way, there is no excuse for such a jagged global release to a country like ours.

    I don't understand why retailers aren't just importing every single thing they sell.

      Because they prefer to stay on the good side of distributors and publishers worldwide. Remember that EBGames/GAME are international organisations, and if they upset EA/ActBlizz/Ubi, they're upsetting a lot more than just their local operations.

      Dunno why JBHifi doesn't just say "Screw the lot of ye", though. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that Sony is also a visual media distributor, and an audio media distributor, and that would be a hell of a boat to rock.

        Stay on the good side of publishers? I wonder what publishers would think about retailers being so willing to break street dates at every opportunity in this country.

        Let's face it, video game retail is a ridiculously broken system that is abused by every person involved in it. Consumers, retailers, distributors. Everyone has to gain from having a system that allows for everyone to get theirs.

        I hope (and i think i'm right) that Gray Imports will soon become the norm.

          I'm very keen to see a post-local distributor world, but at the same time, I'm a little worried about region locking for digital content. What happens when you want to buy, I dunno, COD, and it has all these map packs, and you can't get them here because there's no reliable way to import digital content that doesn't jeopardise anything else.


      Distributors and Publishers would become nasty, denying them all of those nice pre-order thingys.

      Publishers/Distributors can also deny stock and close ways of buying stock for retailers.

      Its just easier over all for them to by from a distributor

        unfortunately we are not allowed to deny them stuff based on grey importing. It leads to a 100,000 dollar fine

          hard to prove in court. DIstributors/Publishers could argue its too costly for them to release the nice extras in the region.

          Nice attitude...

          Unfortunately you are not allowed to?

          I think most of us would say fortunately you are not allowed to, stop ripping Australians off and sell it to our companies for the same profit you sell it to US companies.

          If the price dropped while our dollar was strong, when it was weak we would accept paying more, as it stands, the dollar is strong, why on earth would I buy a videogame locally unless its a CE or something.

    World class support. As someone who is playing i join in everyone in saying LOL. The guys whos keys didnt work ended up buying another key.

      Are you defending EA's level of customer support for Old Republic? That's an... interesting position to hold.

        defending? no im shitting on it

          As someone who is playing i join in everyone in saying LOL - This seems to me like you're laughing at the misfortune of the people who suffered faulty units, because yours was not. Instead of condemning the support which causes people to have to purchase -again-, you're taking joy from it; isn't that a defense, or at least an acceptance?


            laugh out loud that EB thinks they have world class support for SWTOR already @ bioware

            they don't.

            i don't want people to haev keys that dont work :|

              Aah, I'm with you now, mate. I found your phrasing to be a little unclear; it's all good ^^

    Guild Wars did it.

      Did what? Don't get me wrong, thats one of my favourite games ever, and I await GW2 with massive anticipation.... i'm just wondering what they did here.

    you know, I think this is actually reasonable for EB; as Bioware is sugesting people import the game personally, EB would miss out of the majority of sales for this game...

    In related news it seems stupid that EA/Bio didn't provide any aussie release date...

    Really hoping the way the publishers deal with this is to not allow character transfers for a couple of months after local servers go up, would kinda suck to buy it after aussie launch and then log in to see max level characters everywhere and cashed up characters dominating the economy from the outset.

      As much as I agree those sorts of things will be a problem I think long term they'd be better off allowing free transfers there. It'd suck a little, but if they don't do it they're going to split up an already small segment of their userbase. I'd rather struggle a little more being behind the pack then get to end-game and not have many people to play with.

    Online distribution.... Problems solved.
    Just need the prices to be a bit more standardised but generally online is the way to go.
    If you want a CD, pretty box and a manual you can pay for it.

      Online Distribution = Problem Solved.

      No let's be honest it really doesn't. While I know I can buy my games direct through my Battle.net account at Blizzard I still need to deal with Regional pricing.

      And with EA's Origin there is no purchase option for Australia at all. And yes still regional pricing.

      Online Distribution would work fine if the game came out and was priced in US dollars and we paid what the US did. A simple calculator and the exchange rate would tell you what we're paying. But in the real world we get screwed with +200% Australia tax. $50 in the US, $120 in Aus.

      And Mark, you didn't think to ask when we could expect game time cards in EB since they are selling the game?

    Mark, you should see if you can get EB to refund your copy after you've registered it :)

    Also, the price they're charging isn't all that bad, for people who bought physical copies from Amazon, they paid that much including the freight... But for those like me who didn't see the point and just bought it digitally, that's still the best way to go (if you can download a 20gb client)


        As someone who worked at EB today, everyone who pre-ordered, were given a Q&A form saying that we did not refund the game.

    So what happens when it actually launches here, will we be stuck on overseas servers?

      I seem to recall an official statement that they will provide for server transfers when they open local servers. Google for it though in case my memory is playing tricks.

        I remember reading that too, but I am also not going to Google it for y'all.

    Is this leagal? the game is yet to pass australian classification review board so are they in fact selling a game that is yet to be classified?

    If it is not illegal then surely they could do this with all games and defeat the purpose of a rating for games?

    I don't care much about the game itself, or particularly like EB for that matter, but I truly hope this doesn't backfire on them. I really disagreed with the idea of and excuse given for delaying the AU release, and it's nice to see the retailers on our side for once.

    I can't see it really backfiring on them. They're still supporting Bioware/EA's product even if they haven't bought it in via the local distributer. And who knows, depending on what sort of sales response they get from this, other games that publishers/distributers were planning on releasing into Aus after releasing in the US or Uk might decide to go for a same day launch as those countries. The real question is how long before Game Traders CEO Mark Langford gets up on his soap box and starts screaming about how EB's decision to import this product is totally unfair and not giving his business a 'fair go'-seeing as that's the crap he usually pulls out any time there's a game released ahead of schedule in this country via grey import.

      or just expect Gametraders and most other retailers to import as well.

    I just purchased SWTOR on the 4th Jan (I presume a 6-8 day turnaround like my WoW Figureprint post time) they say 18th Jan max. post time.

    Just wondering has anyone ordered SWTOR from Amazon and had a "key" problem? It has been mentioned in here without any definitive answers.
    Is it a random problem or a 100% wont work problem with these US ordered versions?
    Seems to me if EB Games is "Grey importing" them, there mustn't be too many issues, they wouldn't want to be wasting too much money on it with refunds and extra curricular service.

    Anyhow hopefully my copy works out of the box on a US server.

      This is a very delayed comment, but to anyone else who sees this who is interested, myself and five other people bought SWTOR from Amazon, and none of us have had an issue with CD keys not working. If anything, I'd say its really worth the extra $9 for expedited shipping, because the game is fantastic :)

    I am from England and have been playing wow since release on the the american servers.Not for the first time I have done this with a online game. Why? There was a couple months delay for the release in the UK. :Cheaper monthly charge/Digital downloads/ mounts etc. are cheaper: Character transfers cheaper and so on, I suffer no lag issues, and best of all I do not see all the foreign language spam my niece gets on here euro server version.

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