What Will 2013 Do To Aussie Games Retail?

Australia's not exactly blessed with lots of competing video game retail chains. What's the story likely to be in 2013, and does physical retail matter any more in any case?

The business of selling video games in Australia has been a constantly shifting and evolving one. I can well remember in my youth the smaller computer stores being the best place to buy games, alongside larger retail outlets such as K-Mart or Retravision; indeed, my local K-Mart used to load up C64 games and leave them running as a primitive way to advertise games… or attract lots of spotty kids who would only reluctantly step away from the counter the C64 was lodged behind. Yeah, I'm that old.

Video games retail has certainly become a lot more sophisticated than that in recent times, but the simple truth is this; there aren't anywhere near as many places to physically buy games in Australia as there used to be, and it doesn't really appear that this is a trend that's likely to reverse in 2013.

The Established Players

The local scene is dominated in pure terms by EB Games, but, at least on an anecdotal basis, the last dozen or so stores I've been in have been solidly dominated by second-hand sales rather than strong competition in pricing new titles. Nothing wrong with second-hand per se in terms of EB Games' bottom line, but it's not something that can perpetuate without a source of new titles, and it's not something that actively drives new games prices down; typically a second-hand title on EB Games' shelves is only a matter of dollars cheaper than a new copy!

EB Games' closest competitor is easily JB Hi-Fi, another store where second-hand has rapidly become a solid part of the business, albeit (at least on the surface) not to quite the same extent as it is with EB Games. JB isn't particularly dependant on just games sales the way that EB Games is, but that's arguably a strength for games consumers, as it'll often aggressively cut prices on new titles as a loss leader to get customers into its stores, bolstered by profits elsewhere in its stores.

Read JB Hi-Fi's 2012 report, though, and it's a bit gloomier; games doesn't get much of a look in when considering growth factors, with JB Hi-Fi seeing more growth in the computer category — and specifically tablets — driving its sales in the future. Games gets exactly one mention, and that's purely as a mention that JB Hi-Fi happens to sell them.

GameTraders continues to be a presence, and the only other multi-state games store chain (feel free to correct me here if I'm wrong) we've got. It's an interesting case; while it's a smaller chain, it's also willing to "break the rules" via aggressive direct importing, something that the other chains have only really dabbled in. I'm personally a bit sad that the retro sections that used to make GameTraders stores rather distinctive have been all but phased out — you can't even order retro titles from GameTraders web site any more — but that's just my personal retro bias at play.

Beyond those three, you've got the larger retail chains — K-Mart, Big W, Dick Smith, Harvey Norman and so on — but aside from the odd loss-leading special, they're in no way specialist games retailers; indeed, it's a common complaint here on Kotaku that it's almost impossible to find some games within the mass retail space. I don't expect that to change much in 2013; indeed, K-Mart's seen a lot of success in a retail sense by switching to its own house brands for just about everything. Short of launching the K-Mart 360 (unlikely), it can't do that with games, but it wouldn't surprise me to see games further marginalised in mass retail as 2013 rolls out.

What About A Pure Second-hand Play?

One thing I hadn't realised quite literally until yesterday was that UK second-hand games chain CEX had launched in Australia; there's now 11 stores across NSW and the ACT, and they seem to be expanding rapidly. From the look of the store I saw and the web site, it appears they're targeting old GAME store locations, although I suppose that depends on commercial availability of the retail space.

I've personally got fond memories of CEX right back to its original London store; the store near Warren St Tube station transformed itself into one of the nicest retro games stores I've ever been in (for a while), and from what I could (anecdotally) see yesterday, locally CEX is certainly pricing its second-hand stock quite aggressively for most platforms. That's good news for those wanting another trade-in option for their played out physical games, but CEX simply doesn't exist without existing games sales. With Sony reportedly working on making PS4 games impossible (or at least, illogical) to trade in, though, CEX's exact model may well shift rapidly away from games and into more profitable areas such as mobile phones and Blu-Ray discs.

With Digital And Online, Does It Really Matter?

The elephant in the room here is that all these stores have physical presence, and for a lot of games retail, it's perhaps not a vital component. Pretty much any time an article runs here at Kotaku talking up a local sale, it'll be checked quickly against the online importers. That makes sense from an immediate financial point of view; if an overseas store will sell you GTA V cheaper than the "sale" price here, why wouldn't you buy it that way? At the same time, though, many of those stores operate on the margin between the local retail price and whatever they pay in their territory; with less local competition they could well see an opportunity to raise their prices and profits while still seeming "cheap".

Then there's the totally digital plays of services like Steam, PSN, Nintendo's eShop and XBLA. I've got plenty of titles across all four, but with the exception of Steam, there's not exactly "competition" in these spaces to drive down prices; they are whatever Sony, Nintendo or Microsoft decide they're going to be. 2012 didn't exactly see digital-only copies of games even pretend to keep pace with the price of full copies. Is that the future that we want to see for games retail locally, especially as there's obviously no way to generate a second-hand sale for digital goods like these?

Steam's the exception there, with a fairly healthy, if somewhat predictable price reduction structure, driven at least in part because it's not as though Steam is the only way to get PC games. It's nice to bag a bargain, and my Steam pile of shame is indeed pretty shameful, but at the same time there have been far too many instances of Australian Steam game pricing being way behind that of the rest of the world. Invest too heavily here, and that could be the future we're looking towards. Interestingly, JB Hi-Fi's 2012 annual report talks about the success of its NOW music platform, with a note that "JB Hi=Fi's ongoing evolution of the NOW platform will include expanding into new digital markets". It's a long shot, but there's always the possibility of a more localised digital game distribution front launching in 2013.

What do you reckon? How do you buy your games now, and does the fate of Australian games retail concern you in any real way?


Comments

    I personally will still buy physical copies of games that I am really looking forward to, because I usually get the collectors edition

      Me too... and I will get them via direct import for a fraction of the cost my local retailer will charge me.

    I'm not trying to be a smart arse here, but can sommone explain to me why you would buy a second hand game from EB when it is a) only $5 cheaper than new, and b) probably dearer than new at other stores anyway?

    I have often walked out of JB into EB and seen second hand titles in the latter that are dearer then the same title new in the former, and really can't work out how they sell.

    Last edited 04/01/13 10:36 am

      That's the main reason I don't buy ANY 2nd hand games. That and the fact that I want some of the money to go to the people who actually made the game.

      When i used to work at EB i would always offer someone a new copy if they brought up a second hand one, letting them know it was only 5 more for it. Needless to say the money grubbing brainwashed lemmings at EB didn't like when i did that, due to them getting 100% profit off of 2nd hand stuff. It wasn't ethically right for me personally, guess thats why i don't work there anymore.

        how exactly do they make 100% profit? they don't get their games for free. The real figure is between 30% and 60%, similar to what a used car dealer will make on trade in.

        Will you never drive or own a second hand car because it is not ethically right for you?

          I think your percentage comparisons differ. I suspect Woods is saying that EB charge double what they pay.

            Triple what they pay, usually.

              trade in price 15. Put on shelf price 78. 500%

                I've always wanted to see someone buy an new game from EB and then trade it in straight away - that would be epic-rip-off video of all time. Open it first otherwise they will put it back on the shelf as new...
                Another thing that's happened to me many a time, before online biz, was I looked after my games so well, that places like GAME, EB and GameTraders would re-stock my game as NEW and charge full retail... after giving me shit-all mind you
                Though at one stage, the GAME Vs EB trade-in war gave us excellent trade-value - I remember getting $60+ trade value for ALOT of games, years ago.

                  Remember, for awhile there, you could Trade-Up the value of games bought, new, at BigW and JB HiFi to GAME and EB for awhile - if you were smart when you shopped ;)

          He has a point. By not informing customers of their option to buy a new game for such a low amount extra, the staff are not being entirely honest and fair to their customers, which is arguably unethical. Sure, the customer perhaps ought to realise the cost of a new game but perhaps many don't.

          The cost of EB pre-owned games being more than the new copy is annoying. Once they had a discount on a game, Saboteur I think, and it was something like $12 for a new copy. My local store didn't have a new copy, but they did have a pre-owned copy, for $18 or so. I asked if they would sell it to me as a new copy, and they wouldn't. Where's the sense in that. Annoyinga.

            Have you ever had the 'EB-Price-Match' scenario, where they take 20minutes to ring all shops in the region and then they have to give it too you because you are smarter than they are... mwahahahaha...

            The worst has got to be EB refusing UK imports as trade-ins, even though they have the exact same UK imports on the shelf only difference being the Ratings sticker covering the ESRB rating... also an interesting point is that UK imports have our ratings system printed on the disc - but not on the cover insert... Sly dogs...

          you do realise comparing a second hand game, and a second hand car are fundementaly stupid and flawed right?

        heh they usually offer me a 2nd hand version when I bring up a new one.

      I don't know about other EB stores, but in the one I operate, your preowned game gets you a one year free warranty on it. You scratch or damage it by accident in a repairable condition and ill switch it for another copy for 12 months. Free.

        The 'In-case-shit-happens' insurance ploy... I love love the look on your faces when I say, "I look after my games, thanks" (=_=)

          ....there's no ploy. I'm not charging you for the service. Infact I'm saving you a few dollars. Anyone who doesn't want it I just shrug, say 'fair enough' and give you a new copy. There's no scheme behind it, it's just win/win.

            So the grossly inflated prices you charge for 2nd hand is not charging for it?

        Oh, that is a good deal. Shame I didn't know about it, and shame that most aren't likely to track a 12 month old receipt. Still, i've had new games (also from EB) that didn't work properly - Red Dead Nightmares one. That's not EBs fault, just saying.

          yyeahh.. except the official policy (as what is currently written on the web page) is now 3 months, not 12. So his store is not indicative of every EB Store. Everyone else who wants the luxury of getting the replacement has to buy the Game Guarantee.

          also the loyalty card thing tracks your purchases so you don't need receipts unless you have a way to claim games on tax.

            I didnt know about not needing the receipt either. It's not so good about having these facilities if people don't know about them.

      I would only buy used when there is a significant difference. Usually old games below the $20 mark, where new is over $10 more. With that approach about 30% of my library was purchased used.

      Having said that, I have noticed game prices have been coming down for a while. You can already get AAA titles from last season (such as Halo 4) for around $50. I almost never get used games these days, because the difference tends to be under $10.

      Last edited 04/01/13 12:45 pm

        Especially if you're happy to buy imported games. The cost of new imported games is quite often very slightly more than the cost of used Australian games. The cost of used imported games can be very low. Quick reminder, ebay.

    Hasn't Myer completely stopped selling games since like 2011?

    I still buy retail mostly exclusively EB Games and on occasion JB Hifi, and the fate of Australian retail hasn't been spelt out in stone just yet so I'm not too worried.

      To be honest, anyone who buys from EB is part of the problem.

      Smaller retailers come through, and get mostly ignored just because they're not 'known'. Having said that, some of them don't charge much less than EB anyway.

      But in the end, the more people shop at EB, the less options we'll have in the future. It sounds horrible, but people really need to stop buying from EB.

        Yeah but the independents need to be good value. I live near an independent and it's a lovely looking store, nice big plasmas, lots of classic and retro games, but if the cost isn't good I'll just walk out, disappointed. I've never bought anything from them although i've tried to many times.

        Sometime people don't have a choice. Adventure time is an EB exclusive.

    That explains how I recently picked up Syndicate for 360 at CEX. Do they know they can get into a lot of trouble for selling that???

    There's a CEX that moved into my local ex-GAME locale. The prices vary wildly and unpredictably from really extremely good to eyebrow-raising-not-even-EB-would-go-that-far.

      Teething problems perhaps. Yeah I looked at their website and it's good that they have the trade in prices their. Fifa 10 $2.00, bargain. None of the games images have the Australian classification - perhaps they've just used the images from their UK store. Bit lazy. And the name is awful. Who wants to go into their local Cex Shop in the middle of a mall. Silly,

        Nah, you go into a store and look at the shelves and basically EVERYTHING is UK import. Gotta do some hunting to find an OFLC/ACB sticker.

        I find it kind of funny that they have a UK Wii U in there that they're trying to sell for $500+. I mean, really?

          I'd presume that was a matter of setting up a second-hand business; they're pretty big in the UK, so would have stock to spare, and they've got to have stock to get customers in the door in the first place. Suspect once they've been there a few months (and had local gear traded in) that it'd shift pretty quickly to mostly Au content. Could be interesting to see what (if anything) they did if you tried to trade in an EU/US/JPN version of a game, now that I think of it...

            Yes, but it also seems likely that they're existing in Australia simply on the basis of the gap between the UK and Australian prices. Perfectly legal, smart even, but it just highlights how big the gap is - big enough to encourage and allow a new nation-wide (almost) retailer to open shop. Surely this is massive evidence that the gap between Australian and UK prices is FAR too much.

              They're setting up shop based on that, for sure, but they're beholden to whatever gets traded in -- it's not like they sell "new" games at all -- and the picture in the UK, if anything, looks even more bleak. GAME is still there, but its prices are reportedly high, HMV is going under, and aside from that, it's supermarkets for less of a range of games than you'd find in K-Mart here.

              It's just a gut feel, but I suspect retail store game prices in the UK are likely to rise in the next twelve months; many of the tax loopholes that allowed Zavvi/Amazon/etc to undercut the UK "high street" stores are closing, and there's a lot less competition...

                Oh yes, bricks and mortar retail is shot all over. I thought HMV died years ago, or maybe that was just Australia. GAME only exists because some merchant bankers thought it'd be a good place to dispose of a couple hundred million squid.

                There's clearly no money to be made in the sale of new games, or new CDs for that matter. Sure the pre-owned business model made a mint for Gamestop but wasn't strong enough to save GAME, and how much profit can CEX make from selling a game for $2. Answer is not enough.

                CEX will lose money until it closes. It's just a question of when and how much money they'll burn.

                I don't think the mass merchandisers (K-mart et al) will miss running game departments once they wise up. I don't think anyone can be bothered selling new games, apart from the online importers. It makes me question why established companies such as GAME and HMV have allowed start-up companies such as Zavvi and The Hut to become the entities that they have. Why weren't GAME and HMV selling Aussies imported games. We know those brand names so more of us would've been happier to buy them. They missed a trick there. I don't think management within the game retail market is very smart at all.

    I wish the writers for Kotaku would stop perpetuating rumors as if they were already set in stone. Sony made a patent, a patent, do you know how many patents companies like Sony, microsoft, Apple, Samsung etc etc etc register a year? A lot, do you know how many make it into a device? very few and of the ones that do make it in, how many are implemented in the full capacity of the patent? fewer still.

    Stop scare mongering and report facts.

      Hmm. I've mentioned the patent issue in the story, as it has a technical application to the issue of second-hand game sales (and where a pure second hand goods dealer could change its business), and the Kotaku US story mentions the reluctance that Sony's had in implementing its patents in this regard. Not sure where the scare mongering is, really.

        "With Sony reportedly working on making PS4 games impossible (or at least, illogical) to trade in" - where is the proof that they are working on it for the PS4 at all? They could be looking as far ahead as the PS5, or their next hand held (a stretch I know, but still). Sony filed a patent and nobody has any idea of what they plan to do with it, so no solid source has reported on them working on making PS4 games specifically using this system, or if they plan on using it at all.

        People are already blowing the rumor out of proportion, and statements like that just fuel the fire.

          Hence my use of the term "reportedly". I'm happy to differ, but I think you're seeing hype that's not entirely there.

            Yep, and Alex isn't suggesting that this is breaking news either - it's been reported for several months now, maybe even a year. Nothing new, just relevant to the topic at hand.

              The also filed a similar patent for use on the ps3 way back when...

            The use of 'reportedly' (and allegedly etc) is a journalistic trick that's disingenuous at best and pure bollocks at worst. Your version of events gets close to 'scare-mongering', your defence (the Kotaku US story) is moot because you don't mention it or the conclusions it draws in your original article.

            Not having a go, but none of us want to see Kotaku going down the road of the Drudge Report, amirite? :)

      Stop scare mongering and report facts.
      I wish you would do the same.

      Last edited 04/01/13 11:40 am

    Last year I purchased alot through ozgameshop. I made a couple of first day purchases with JBhifi, titles that I wanted to play asap.

    However I've been checking ozgameshop's prices for this years titles and they have seem to have risen. I spoke to someone at ozgameshop & he told me they are not making a profit on the new price rise. I thought that was interesting. Now it seems that ozgameshop is selling new release games around $60 - $65. Only a 9 dollar or less saving from JBs usual $69 price.

      I noticed that too. So far this (short) year my purchases have been through Zavvi.

        Just checked out Zavvi for the first time... it looks amazing. Hitman absolution for 30 bucks, If I didn't already own it, that would be a definite buy. What's the shipping like?

          Tbh I've experienced some delays. I've found ozgameshop generally quicker.

          Ozgameshop has always been a lot quicker than Zavvi for shipping. That said Zavvi is my go to shop these days.

          To let you, and others know, Hitman was $36 on PSN (Festive Sale) last week. Just making the point that PSN does seem to be capable of offering price competitive offerings, albeit in short term sales.

          Bought hitman on the aus psn store for $33. Not a bad deal. I thought this article was pretty interesting

    I shop for the best price. I don't buy from EB anymore because their prices are rarely competitive. Every now and then I'll buy from JB. Steam I don't buy AAA titles because of that regional pricing crap (same can be said for Greenmangaming recently) so basically I get all my games either imported from someone like Ozgameshop or from a key website.

    Opening up a new game and smelling the fresh ink on the instruction manual still brings back wonderful memories of saving up my cash to buy the latest C64 hit. I'll be very sad to see those days go but it appears to be an inevitability of the medium. With 2nd hand likely to be squashed in the next generation of consoles stores will have little to sell. From there it's only logical to move the entire catalog to digital distribution.
    Mark my words in 20 years your kids will be calling us all old when we pull out a case with a disc in it to play a game.

      I honestly can't remember the last game I bought that had the old "instruction manual" excitement.

      Maybe MGSHD?

        Pretty frustrating. I love reading the manuals!

        I got two X360 games over xmas... both had 4 page manuals, and most of that was taken up with legals - they mgiht as well nto have bothered!!

          I couldn't believe it when I first started getting 360 games, coming from a pure Nintendo background. Nearly every manual seems to be like that. It's so horrible.

    Price is the main factor in determining where I get my games
    http://www.cdkeyport.com/

    online shopping is apparently set to get a shake up thanks to our stupid Goverment they are planing to implement a new buyers Tax meaning what we are geting cheap on line at the moment will not be that way any longer. This is there way of cutting down online shopping i for one do hope the are met with resistance but if this comes to life then it will be like this say you pay $30 USD for a brand new title which is like $70AUD ok so this means basically the tax brings a hike to the price you pay online there fore your not getting a good deal anymore. Blame our goverment.

    What i want to know is why should we be forced to pay twice as much as the rest of the world

      From what i've read it's just GST...so 10% not a big deal IMO...even with 10% tax many things still end up being 50% cheaper than buying retail :)

      How will this be enforced? At the moment the government doesn't knwo that i buy my games online. You will note that all packages recieved from ozgameshop etc are makred 'gift' for customs purposes....

        They'll get you through the foreign currency charge on your credit card. Until overseas retailers get their act together and allow you to do direct deposit or something of the sort, that is.

      There're be little if any resistance. Sure, there'll be some news stories and grumblings on forums, but nothing of real substance. Let's face it, people on the whole have bigger problems than a 10% tax on their overseas online orders.

      Also, your assertion that we are "forced to pay twice as much as the rest of the world" may be correct in some instances, but let's not let our point lose credibility by spouting this kind of hyperbole as THE TRUTH.

      By "our stupid Government" I'm assuming you're living in NSW or Queensland? They're the two that have been putting up this suggestion (mostly NSW - Can-do Campbell has too many other stupid ideas to spare much time on this one). The Federal Government has been reluctant - very reluctant, really - to even consider it (http://goo.gl/tcgQU). Which makes sense, since they'd have to foot the (absurdly large) bill for paying for all the extra customs inspectors, while the GST revenue would go to the states.

      Not disagreeing on the point of Government being stupid, just making sure it's clear which stupid governments wants this particular something stupid :)

      Also, the answer to your question as I understand it is a combination of: greedy multinationals, greedy wholesalers, and retailers with broken 20-year old pricing models.

    It's so cheap to import, I'm surprised jb and eb even sell games anymore.

    I'm getting out of console gaming as soon as possible. I'm saving up for a efficient gaming rig atm. I can't see the future but if the last few years have been any indication, I think the new gen of consoles will take publisher greed, prices and subscription fees to a new level. At least with a gaming pc setup I can save coin on titles, take advantage of steams great service & after a while my investment will pay itself off.

    Last edited 04/01/13 11:55 am

    I'm just going to say this in defence of EB games.
    No local retailer can compete with the current line up of online importers. We all know this. But EB games isn't the evil they are made out to be. Their prices are as high as they are because they offer a premium service. They do this by consistently having friendly and game savvy staff who know what they are talking about when it comes to games. They also offer the widest selection of games in local retail, if they don't have it in store, then they can almost always order it in. And finally, EB games do (and are always more then willing) to price match any local competitor. I say give them a break. They are a business like any other.

      "They do this by consistently having friendly"

      Wrong.

      "And finally, EB games do (and are always more then willing) to price match any local competitor".

      Wrong. Besides, is that the only way we can get a good price from them? By shaming them? Can't they just give a good price to all customers in the first place without requiring us to go through the whole process of proving that their competitors are cheaper than them.

        Don't get overly dramatic. We've all had crappy experiences at a bunch of stores (I had one at JB just the other day) but that doesn't mean that every one of their staff is the devil and I'll never go there again ever ever never ever! Got my stuff on their website instead. Problem solved like an adult.

          I can get as dramatic as I choose, thanks very much.

          I've not said that every one of their staff is the devil (who's being dramatic now), but I have said that I have had several highly unpleasant transactions with several EB Games staff members, across several stores, and including their 1300 call centre. My worst retail experiences have been with EB Games, and each of those bad experiences has been completely unnecessary and simply based on the staff members hostile attitude in regards to their trade in offers.

          Buying stuff from their website has not solved the problem of their poor customer service. You are deluded.

        just your experience.....staff have always been freindly..if not a little pushy (ok ill get a bloody membership card!! stop hassling me!) but hey, thats their job to push for trade ins, pre orders and used games... you can't really hold it against them personally,

          At least with the membership card you get a 7-day exchange/refund period (which, yeah, you used to get at EB regardless).

          I don't hold it against them personally. I think that the customer service issues within EB are so pervasive that they clearly stem from management - training and their procedures. I'm sure that I was interrogated not at the whim of the staff member concerned but at the behest of the procedures implemented by management.

          I don't think EB hire bad staff. I think they hire good staff and manage them to the point that they become bad.

      I tend to agree, but a lot comes down to the staff, imo. Until last year, my local EB had great, laid-back, friendly, helpful staff. Now they've moved elsewhere and the new staff are... "cloying" is the word that comes to mind. Not pushy, and no less helpful (I suppose), but very obvious about wanting a sale. It's disconcerting.

    Keep in mind that YOU, the Kotaku reader/commenter, are not the average consumer. You're more likely to be much better educated about pricing disparities in games and online options than mum and dad next door. Sure, some have made that step, but for most EB/JB are simply the logical/only places to make a gaming purchase.

    For all the comments such as "It's so cheap to import, I'm surprised jb and eb even sell games anymore.", I don't think you understand how the world works. Looking at either of their stock prices/annual reports, I don't think they're in any real trouble, even with the growth of online shopping.

    Drop the fanboi-ism, open your eyes and see it for what it is, then educate your friends and family.

    I personally think that Australian gaming retail is doomed. It's certainly dying, with the likes of Sanity, DJs, GAME leaving the industry - and others such as DSE not quite sure what it's doing. And perhaps even JB aren't totally enthused about their involvement.

    The mass retailers are quite hopeless at games too. Their prices are typically ludicrous, whatever sale stock they have lasts about 2.5 minutes by the look of it, and they can't even price their stock properly. I used to relish rushing into K-Mart or Big W and being able to scoop up a bargain or two from a quick glance of their games section. It hasn't been that way for a long time. And Toys R Us are pathetic. 5 year old games on sale for only $50. Come on, we're not that stupid, and if we are can you not take advantage of us please.

    EB Games is not a nice shopping environment. It seems to me that the staff are trained to be hostile towards the hardcore gamer. There's too many rules. It makes the shopping process much like an interrogation. If EB has a special trade in deal and you go in to use that trade in deal, you're quite often made to feel as if you're somehow doing the wrong thing by taking advantage of their offering. I've had to explain several times why I've had multiple copies of the same game - how is that in anyway their business. Why must I justify myself. If EB doesn't want us to use their trade in specials, don't have trade in specials. It's really not that complicated.

    Then they sell imported games with the Australian Classification system sticker slapped on them. Then they sell you games that are unsealed, pre-owned games that don't work, pre-owned games that have immovable stickers on the manuals and covers. Thanks EB for deceiving me and selling me damaged goods in such a delightful manner. Yes you sure are providing a quality service. Is it really that difficult to sell game products? It amazes me at how well they manage to stuff it up, but then GAME were in many ways very similar - although their staff were vastly more customer service friendly - night and day.

    I think the PS4 will have this anti-used game thing in order to put Gamestop out of business, and although that disappoints me in some ways as this generation i've traded in alot of games, I welcome it really. I don't think companies such as EB should exist in the manner in which they do. They are perverting the system by focusing so heavily on selling pre-owned games, which denies developers of their rightful income. I think that digital distribution on PSN (and MS LIve) is coming down in price - F1 Racestars $30 within a month of launch, same with LBP Karting (festive sale). And with Steam threatening to pull everyone's pants down Sony and Microsoft will simply have to get on board - market forces. I like having games on my hard drive (as long as the hard drive is big enough). If I can buy the games for around $20 say 12 to 18 months after launch then i'll be very happy with that. It would probably benefit me more if the used game market were to persist but killing it off is probably the best for the greater good.

      How can it be in Sony's interest to put the world's largest video games retailer out of business? Sure, other smaller players will step in, but it'll take a long time to get to the point where they have the same market saturation and marketing clout as GS has. Sony, now more than ever, needs strong sales simply to survive.

      Not to mention that PS4/X720 games will most likely be more expensive than the current generation; all that extra work to make it all super pretty, on hardware and dev tools that are still not 100% mastered will drive up Dev costs, which they'll pass on to us (not to mention other factors). Don't get your hopes up for prices to drop, you'll end up disappointed.

        How can it be in Sony's interest to put the world's largest video games retailer out of business?

        SImply due to the sheer quantity of used games that it sells. Sure the sales of new games is clearly of benefit to Sony, and the rest of the industry, but the sales of pre-owned games is beneficial only to Gamestop and their customers. It deprives the publishers, developers and everyone else of their income. If Coles started selling crack alongside their normal groceries ultimately they'd be deemed to be detrimental to society, if even their baked beans are really tasty.

        You're right, Sony (and everyone else) has been pandering to Gamestop and other retailers, and they've taken their sweet time into effectively tackling the problem of pre-owned games. But it seems to me that they've taken some steps (codes for online access of games) and with the switch to digital distribution proving itself to work it seems to me that now, or with the impending next generation, the time is right for Sony (and Microsoft) to put the k'bosh on the ill practices that have been rife within the industry. Brave times indeed.

        Actually the costs of games may not be increasing that much, as the developer tools are better, and also because of the PC like technology of the next gen. I don't speak with true knowledge, but what i've read in other articles.

        I don't think that the cost of new release games will fall, I expect the RRP of them to increase gradually as they have always done. But then we have so many more options now, even with a more sparse retail market. We can buy full price from EB. We can buy a $120 RRP game from JB for $69. We can occasionally buy a loss leader big launch game from K-Mart or Big W at a dollar less than JB. We can buy from the UK import sites for 30% less than any Australian retailer. We can buy from the appropriate digital distribution sites. We can wait for sales to happen.

        We have choice. There is competition. RRP prices can increase all they like, there will still be bargains out there. This generation a lot of games have fallen dramatically in price within a few months of release. I picked up Darkness II Collectors Edition for $18 about 6 weeks after release. Harvey Norman was selling Modern Warfare 3 for $24 last week. Saints Row 3 for $13.

        Sure, if you have to buy your games on release then things will be expensive, but if, like me, you're happy to wait for price drops then price isn't as much as an issue.

      Haha you know they ask about multiple games to get a quick suss out if its stolen goods lol. If you go to a pawn shop and give them 20 of the same item they do the same thing. Not saying what your saying is wrong but just pointing that out. But I think you've been going to the wrong EB if that's how you've been treated, just saying.

        The interrogations have occurred when attempting to trade in 2 copies of the same game. Yes, 20 copies of the same game would warrant further investigation, arguably, but not 2. I think the reasoning is that they realised that I had just got 2 copies of the game from a JB 3 4 1 run and weren't happy with that for whatever reason. Bottom line is if we can utilise their trade deals to our benefit that's our perogative, and for them to get huffy about it is out of line.

        Yes, 1 EB in particular seems rife will bad staff, but I was perhaps more disapointed to be interrogated by another guy at another EB that had served me multiple times previously and had always had excellent customer service, but when coming to trade in 2 copies of the same game things had changed. Oh well, I have no need for EB. Even their sales fail to impress any more.

    Are Gametraders really phasing out their retro section? Because thats the whole appeal to Gametraders for me, otherwise its back to ebay.

      GameTraders used to list its Retro stock online (I don't have a store near me, so that was handy); go to the retro section on its site and it now suggests that you email each store directly to find out what stock they have. That, combined with what I could see of Retro in the last couple of GameTraders stores I've visited doesn't suggest they're betting heavily on Retro.

        Hi Guys

        Gametraders certainly hasn't moved out of Retro. I own a GT store and I know that most of us franchisees still trade and sell retro.

        There was a change to our website about 6 months ago which removed the ability to see the retro stock that was listed within our stores individually. There are still some changes to come but the gamertraders website will hopefully be restores to better visibility on retro held in stores.

        Whats been funny to me in this whole discussion about whats happening with gaming in 2013 is that some of us (Gametraders especially) have already changed our business model to continue to exist if software goes to DLC. I now my sales stats and understand whats leading my sales via sku's, though yes current gen games are still my strongest selling sections it's, as a percentage of my total sales it's dropping, yet my sales are also increasing over the last 12 months.

        I think the next 12 months will really show who's on teh ball for where their business model is going and more to the point should be going....

    I was enjoying the article until i read "Pretty much any time an article runs here at Kotaku talking up a local sale, it’ll be checked quickly against the online importers. That makes sense from an immediate financial point of view; if an overseas store will sell you GTA V cheaper than the “sale” price here, why wouldn’t you buy it that way? ",

    That sure pissed me off, Yeah i'm going to be alone in this one from the comments being said. What does 2013 hold, people will be more picky on price than anything, price is everything and little knowledge on why thats a problem is the main problem. No one will address it because like the article says "That makes sense from an immediate financial point of view", screw the local jobs and economy, i pay the cheapest price from overseas.

    Brian says "What i want to know is why should we be forced to pay twice as much as the rest of the world". Well Brian, here's my question, Why should Oz retailers have to pay multiple taxes and expenses, that online sellers and overseas sellers are exempt from. Why isn't it a equal playing field. You think you are getting screwed with overpriced gaming items, Feel for the person who says, why am i paying 4x the rent and wages than overseas.

      So your argument is with the Federal Government and their reluctance to implement supply-side economics?

        The whole of economic theory is based on the presumption that consumers are rational actors, which they simply are not.

        Ozgameshop, bless them for giving us options, avoid both the cost of multiple retail spaces (which is definitely not cheap, it's a big part of what ended up killing GAME), as well as the UK VAT (~20% last time I checked) and the local 10% GST. They did their homework, found a niche and are making the most of it. Kudos to them for being astute business people.

        At the same time, they're simply not on an equal footing with regards to their cost base compared to local retailers, so let's not compare apples with oranges.

        Last edited 04/01/13 1:17 pm

        Pretty much, its a Goverment, Consumer issue and Media argument. The Goverment is too scared of harming the agreement it has over free trade with US and countries and says, it would be too hard and expensive to implement any new strategies. The Threshold is currently $1000.00, anything under that is exempt, other countries have as low as $200 as their threshold.

        The consumer issue lies on the basis that no-one gives a crap on sourcing from overseas because they have only heard the positives.

        Those positives came from the Media who are always doing shows on how to purchase safely and easily from overseas with no mention of the harm it would cause to local jobs.

      Another valid point in relation to importing games is that imported games will not be the official Australian version of the game. Yes, I know that the only difference may be the markings on the game cover, and the implications that that has on re-sale and trade in values, but if there is a difference (which there is) then they are different. It's not quite apples for apples even if pretty much everyone acts as if it is.

      Further to this, it is ok and legal for Australian retailers to sell imported games, but it is deceptive if they present the games as being an Australian version of the game when it is not. And consumers should not tolerate this. Unfortunately many national Australian retailers have deceived consumers in this way - Harvey Norman, EB Games, GAME, Fishpond. It seems to be standard practice and one that ought to be addressed.

      Last edited 04/01/13 1:23 pm

    "Beyond those three, you’ve got the larger retail chains — K-Mart, Big W, Myer, Harvey Norman and so on —"

    Haha, not any more. Myer hasn't been selling games since like... last year :P Has David Jones stopped too? I know I went in there a little while back and found a pile of everything on clearance. Even had a few GBA games in there.

      OK, fair point -- I don't honestly think I've been inside a Myer on a game hunt for at least three years. Have amended the article.

        You missed out, there were some great prices going round when they were clearing everything out. Started around when OoT3D came out, then came to a climax the following Christmas. They were dropping fairly new things to ~$5, I was just disappointed I already owned most of it :P

    I dont like digital anything. I prefer to have the product in my hands. But in saying that, I havent bought a game from a store in about 8 months... and havent walked into an EB Games (or any game store) in about 18 months. Its all online now. Why spend $110 at EB for a latest release when an online store has it for $55 posted to your door?

    Too long have retail chains ripped off consumers. If they want to survive they better start getting real about how much they charge for their products.

      To be fair EB probably can't sell their (Australian) games for much less than they do. They have to pay the distributors more money than the UK games are sold for at retail, then they have to pay for the rent of the shop, staff costs, marketing. They only survive because of the success of the pre-owned market. Take that away and they'll die pretty much immediately. GAME have gone, mass merchandisers are leaving the market, JB are not making money from games, EBs time will come before long.

    I get most, if not all of my games from a shop called Shin Tokyo. They not only do direct imports, but also stock a lot of more obscure titles you won't find in your typical Jb's or EB. However, it seems there is barely anyone in there, because it is a small shop tucked away in the corner of the basement of an arcade, where two of the three other shops are Jb's and EB. It's kind of a pity that people could be getting way better prices if they walked an extra 20m.

      I got lucky when Zelda Skyward Sword came out, I happened to wander into that store during their birthday sale and got the UK imported version really cheap AND I got it before the game was officially out in Australia. I don't get into the city much anymore so don't get to see that shop much now.

    I think Aussie games retail is going to stay much the same in 2013 as it currently is. It may decline further, but it will be slow. The average consumer (not knowledgeable gamers that frequent Kotaku forums) will continue to get really bad deals and bargains will be available from overseas if you look for them. However, I think even those overseas bargains will start to slip a little. Some of the comments suggest that is already happening.

    I wonder how you guys feel about the way I play games myself, as I haven't seen anybody else in my situation. I'm very price sensitive (have to be really, just the way it is) and until early 2011 I would buy the occasional new game (usually one of the bargains from Big W or Target), then gradually trade and trade until any value I had whittled away. Rinse, repeat.

    Then I saw an article (I think here on Kotaku, could be wrong) that mentioned GetGaming, a games rental subscription service. After checking it out I realised it would save me a small fortune. I pay $22.95 per month and can play as many games as I can work my way through. Unlimited number of games, limited to one disc at a time. I'm playing more games than I could afford previously and paying less.

    I'm not a big multiplayer gamer so I don't often miss the pass codes for online gaming (since you only get the disc, you don't get those), but for any game I want to play the pass-coded content I will buy that, and buy any DLC I want. So in effect, for going on 2 years now I haven't bought a new game, but I've played *tons* of games. It's not ideal, and it's not supporting developers, but it's what I can afford.

    A subscription service is a lot easier for me to manage that buying individual games, especially at new game prices. I'm also subscribed to PSN+ (a new addition, bought when they had their Christmas discount) and am finding that service excellent. I would happily pay more for that a year, and cancel GetGaming, if it included new, or nearly new game access on a broader spectrum.

      That sounds like a good, or great, solution if you want to play multiple, new games and are happy to fore-go any ownership of games. Personally I would suggest picking up games once they drop in price, and keeping them. That way you get to play in your own good time, and although the trade in price might be peanuts, you might be able to get close to your purchase price on ebay.

      But if you must play newly released games that sounds like a good option.

        Not all the games I play are new releases, I have a bit of a backlog in my queue. It's more about the volume of games it enables me to get through without having to worry about the price or argue with the wife about spending too much.

        I never tried selling through eBay as it seemed like a bit of a hassle, but certainly trading games at Game/EB didn't work out in terms of cost vs the GetGaming sub.

        I haven't bought and kept games since I was a teenager and all my income was disposable. I rarely go back to play old games and to me having games sat on a shelf just seems like wasted money sat there. I don't buy dvds either for pretty much the same reasons.

        I honestly think I should jumped on PSN+ a long time ago as it really is exactly the kind of service that suits me. The games library on it isn't fully featured enough to JUST use that though, and I have a 360, PS3 and Wii U, so the GetGaming sub lets me get games from all of those systems (and handhelds or older consoles if I so choose).

          Yes that's great to be able to use it across all those platforms. PSN+ is great too - or has been since June with the instant game collection. It's easier to hide PSN purchases from the wife too, and saves of shelf space.

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