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IT Pricing Enquiry: No Evidence For Higher Costs On Digital Games

The federal government’s IT Pricing Enquiry has concluded, and in addition to providing recommendations regarding pricing policy, there’s one particular section which gamers will find interesting, even if unsurprising.

In the enquiry is a small section relating to videogames, stating publishers didn’t even try to defend their position when it comes to charging higher prices locally:

The Committee notes that despite industry claims that costs exist for the creation and marketing of digitally distributed content, vendors have not produced any evidence to explain why differentials are so high for such content. In relation to games, for example, the Committee has not received any evidence which explains why it is almost invariably cheaper for Australian gamers to purchase and ship physical media from the United Kingdom to Australia than it is to purchase a digital copy of the same game.

So, it does appear that this massive enquiry, for gamers at least, existed to impotently tell us what we already knew. As Angus Kidman over at Lifehacker has pointed out, the purpose of the enquiry was never to introduce legislation to enforce fairness on pricing:

It is not going to recommend that competition law be changed exclusively for technology products to ensure that we get the same prices as the US. It’s legally unfeasible, politically difficult to imagine, and impossible to enforce in real terms. It’s simply not going to happen.

This is especially relevant in the gaming space, where as we’ve reported many times, publishers charge more for games because we’re willing to pay the higher costs. Even in the case of digitally distributed games, with no shipping or other material costs, we still pay more. Mark Serrels wrote a great piece not too long ago examining the reasons for this.


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