Watch Dogs' Australian Price Hike Is Unjustifiable. At Least Ubisoft Tried To Justify It.

Last night Ubisoft changed the pricing of Watch Dogs on Steam, increasing the price from US$59.95 to US$74.95 in an instant. Almost instantly complaints hit the Kotaku inbox. "Australia Tax" was the unanimous cry in almost every single email I received. 'WTF', 'WTH'? Regardless of the abbreviation you care to use, this is just another high profile example of one of the worst and most unfair aspects of playing and buying video games in this country.

But before I attack Ubisoft for this practice, it's worth giving them the benefit of the doubt on a few issues. Firstly, the price jump that Watch Dogs made is actually generous compared to some others I've seen. In my experience there have been far worse offenders. Activision and Bethesda spring to mind, with PC games on Steam leaping from $59.95 to $89.95 overnight. The price jump here, as bad as it is, is gentle compared to the one Fallout: New Vegas received some years back.

And unlike those two companies, Ubisoft actually took the time to at least respond to customer complaints. This is rare. In my three years as Editor of Kotaku the issue of digital pricing has been a discussion local publishers simply refuse to engage in.

Last night on its Facebook Ubisoft did its level best to justify the price increase.

"Unlike Ubisoft US, Ubisoft Australia & NZ is a part of the European business group," Ubisoft Australia explained. "We buy and sell product at euro-based cost of goods and royalties, as does UK, France and most of continental Europe."

That was part of a full back and forth conversation on the official Ubisoft Australia Facebook page last night, a conversation which represents the first time, in my memory, that a local publisher has openly discussed its digital pricing policy with its customer base. As anti-consumer as these price hikes are, I think Ubisoft should be commended for its transparency.

But.

But surely it's time for some sort of change. Surely. Particularly when it comes to PC games sold on Steam. With box copies sold at retail there are arguments to made, some of them fair. It does cost more to run a business in Australia. Our minimum wage is higher, our population is small and is spread out across a massive chunk of land. Australians do, in general, make more money here. I don't agree with the pricing of retail games in Australia, but at the very least I can understand it.

When it comes to digital I can't understand it. Particularly when consumers are dangled with the golden carrot of US pricing only to have it snatched away at the last second, literally a week before release. It's a cruel unfair practice. Ubisoft is calling it a pricing error, but it's an error we've seen all too often in Australia and an error that makes the unfair pricing we have to deal with here in Australia all too transparent.

And while I commend Ubisoft for being open about price changes and the reasons they were made, ultimately my response (and the response of most consumers) is 'who cares'?

Who cares that Australia is part of the European territory? What does that matter to me or anyone who buys video games? It's actually meaningless to me as a consumer. If I lived in Europe I'd be equally as pissed that I was expected to pay more for a digital product. Who cares that the US and Europe are separate entities? I don't think that's good enough. If that's the way you run your business then make adjustments. What's stopping you? What's stopping Ubisoft, as a company, from making Steam pricing consistent with exchange rates across all territories?

We live in a global economy, we live in a world where digital products are sold sans middlemen. Consumers shouldn't be expected to wear the same old costs. Price hikes of this kind are unjustifiable and that is literally the bottom line.


Comments

    My hype for this game died long ago and this is probably the nail in the coffin as far as me buying it. Instead, I will sail the seven seas. Yarrr!

      its pretty piss poor when developers scream about "lost sales" on PC due to piracy. I was all aboard for $59.99 but was waiting for next month as i have my car registration due this month. At $79.95 however this is a no sale for me...

        You could always just get the PC code emailed to you from Ozgameshop:
        http://www.ozgameshop.com/pc-games/watch-dogs-code-by-email-game-pc

        Good to see you can get the game almost immediately from the EU at a reasonable price

          I was about to say go to Ozgameshop but looks like you beat me to it.

          or you could use a site like Greenman Gaming and pay that 49.99USD and get 25% off.

          No no no! No one do this!

          Instead, go here: http://www.greenmangaming.com/s/au/en/pc/games/action/watch-dogs/
          Use this coupon for 25% off: PT7ELX-1WPWNT-7UAGQZ

          So you'll get the game for $37.50

          Be quick though. THE COUPON EXPIRES 4:00 PM UTC (2:00 AM EAST TOMORROW).

        Exactly. There are other ways to lose sales.

        Ubisoft, I am not a pirate but when you act like an asshat you are significantly damaging the chances I will pick up your game.

      Uncle Torrence told me about a version that comes with every bit of DLC as well!

        I might do actually. Unfortunately I'm not gullible enough to accept a price hike just because LITERALLY 'It could have been worse'. Seriously?! Thats your counter argument Kotaku?!

        On a side not, you can get it for around $49 on Greenmangaming (Uplay Key, I know it sucks, but the steam version probably re-routs through Uplay anyway.) and they always have a 20% off voucher somewhere. Vote with you'r wallets!

        http://www.greenmangaming.com/s/au/en/pc/games/action/watch-dogs/

        Edit:
        As I say later I did read the whole article, and yes I am paraphrasing. My point is, like that of the end of the article, that I don't accept being ripped off, regardless of 'how much' we are being ripped off which was an argument in the article. It's not that I don't agree with the whole article, just that part. Sorry for the misunderstanding.

        Last edited 24/05/14 6:47 pm

          Yeah I bought it from GMG after seeing the steam price hike - deluxe edition for $50, thanks to a 25% off voucher.
          I would expect the Steam version to launch Uplay immediately after pressing play as well, I've seen that happen with other Ubi games on Steam.

          That's not the Kotaku response at all. Read the whole article before you get your mad on.

            I did read the whole article, and yes I am paraphrasing. My point is, like that of the end of the article, that I don't accept being ripped off, regardless of 'how much' we are being ripped off which was an argument in the article. It's not that I don't agree with the whole article, just that part. No need to pull apart my comment and assume things of me and how I based my opinions because of it.

          I tried purchasing this with a 25% off voucher I found and I just keep getting the payment bounced back. It's really frustrating that they don't have some form of live support so I may have to wait all weekend for a reply and by then my voucher will have expired.

      Yarrr! Hoist the VPNs!

      Last edited 23/05/14 10:30 am

      I shall join you on your quest my wooden legged friend!!

      I feel the WD world will get boring fairly quickly. How many hack types are there? Too many could overwhelm the player and too few will dictate where the hackable items are placed (like crates in a fps). The spider tank seems far fetched in this world too.

        No-one cares how you feel about the game. It isnt even released yet. This article is about the disgusting price hike 5 days before release.

        The Spider Tank thing is fictional even in-game. The player can take Digital Drugs (it's a thing) that cause him to hallucinate stuff like spider tanks. http://youtu.be/ ycqK371ZWpg?t=2m5s

      Totally agree, this game started well but every new trailer and press release made it less and less appealing

      I'm willing to bet you were sailing the seven seas before this. I highly doubt this was the proverbial "final nail in the coffin". Just admit you don't want to buy it.

      See, this is where I wonder about the anti-piracy brigade.

      Look, this is clearly douchebag behaviour, right? Price-matching to absurdly-overpriced retail with absolutely no reason or value-add other than to keep the retailers from revolting and refusing to stock your shit. So, y'know. They're being dicks.

      But if you protest legally, what're you gonna do? Punish yourself by missing out on something cool, which coincidentally they don't actually see as a protest but as 'bad sales due to poor game'? So that's boneheaded. How about buying it internationally?

      Oh gee. That's a real incentive for them to do something.
      "Hey, Ubisoft! We're going to pay lower international prices for your games if you don't accept our demands of dropping oz prices to uh... lower international prices."
      "Oh no. And if we don't agree to that, we'll still pick up the the international price income from you, and the 500% profit margin retail price from the rest of your country? HOW WILL WE EVER COPE?"

      How do you think you can both show demand, AND a protest against price, I wonder? Hmmm.

        The only legal way to do it is not buy the game and then tell them why so they can't pretend it's not a lost sale due to a poor game.

        I'm getting it on PS4 from dickhead smiths for $65 and that's what I'd consider quite a reasonable price so there I don't mind but if my only option was $90 (coincidently $20 more than the PS3 version "because... er... shut up! That's why!"), chances are good I'd be waiting a while before grabbing it.

          I always forget Dick Smith has good prices in the heat of the moment, I should plan an excursion.

        You could always just not buy the game. Just because the company makes a dick move doesn't mean you're entitled to a copy for free, and it's not like there's a lack of good games out there. You could easily spend that $60 on 3-4 smaller scale games and get just as many hours enjoyment out of them. As it is, there's more good games coming out every month than most people have time to play through.

        Or if you really want to play it, but not at that price... wait for a price drop? You don't have to immediately play it day 0. In fact, on PC you probably shouldn't, there's every chance the game will be broken at release and need a patch (and if it's not, your graphics drivers probably will be!).

        If you really really want it day 0 and you absolutely can't pay extra then you probably already preordered it, in which case you paid the old price. In fact I'm pretty sure when I preordered it on Steam it was even less than $60. But if you didn't do that for some reason, there's still heaps of legal or semi-legal (VPN, buy a key from a reseller etc) ways to obtain it for a fairer price.

        But I guess some people are just itching for an excuse to pirate it and any old justification will do.

          I think the 'entitlement' issue is what clouds the discussion whenever people bring it up. Because it makes it into a moral argument rather than one of efficiency or effectiveness.

          Now, there's probably a case to be made that breaking the law by way of protest is arguably counter-productive because the law-makers and enforcers try to make the issue a moral one, because they believe in the law (despite the fact that people made it up and can - and do - change it when convenient), and rather than tackling the issues that cause law-breaking, they just want to stop it the traditional, brute-force, over-simplified dumb way. "It's illegal. Stop it or we'll catch you." It's not especially nuanced or inventive - and given the realities of the digital landscape, not especially viable either.
          And because of that, I'd argue the counter-productivity isn't a huge factor against piracy as a form of protest, because once the reality of traditional enforcement's ineffectiveness is unwillingly accepted, maybe the plods in charge will look at more effective alternatives out of the sense of urgency that only comes from the desperate fear of losing money.

          There's moralizing involved as well, which is also incredibly besides the point and utterly irrelevant. "People shouldn't do something that's easy, rewarding, and practically consequence-free, because it's WRONG!" Which is to laugh. No shit. Bad things shouldn't happen to good people, either. Since when has 'should' ever mattered? Expecting morality for morality's sake is a losing cause, pissing in the wind. They're better off sparing the indignation and trying something that might actually work.

          Legal options for protest have the draw-backs I mentioned: the fact that the Internet in general has given people so many voices that it's all a dull roar of complaining that is easily ignored, and which the unintuitive have difficulty in resolving against seemingly contradictory consumer behaviours. There's also straight-up misinterpretation of a boycott (as if the gamers could ever manage/agree on a coordinated one) as marketing consider it to be in their best interests to blame the studio for the lack of success of the game, as opposed to the pricing they set. And who's better at spinning bullshit to the higher ups? A game dev or a marketer?

          Combine this with the fact that it's not actually in the best interests of one of the guilty parties/aggressors involved (publishers/distributors) to change their behaviour, given that the law is on their side and has always been an effectively heavy stick, and you end up with an unfair discourse which likes to make themselves out to be more aggrieved than they truly are, by making absurd claims which count pirated copies as 'lost sales'. And worse, they complain to ignorant, older law-makers who actually believe them, thanks to not fully understanding the landscape they're charting.

          I don't pirate, myself, anymore. I have literally hundreds of games in my pile of shame and if purchasing at the same rate will die before I can ever finish them all, even if I quit my job to do it. But I don't begrudge those who consider it the strongest message. They know the risks, that's fine by me. 'Should' and moralizing work both ways, and for as long as the immoral behaviour of naked greed in regional discrimination persists, turn-about's fair play. These assholes reap what they sow. Maybe if they change their behaviour, I'll change my opinion, but similar to someone who picks a drunken fight with a MMA champ and ends up bleeding on the floor, publishers picking a fight with pirates is cause for eye-rolling, not sympathy.

            I don't know how else to describe "I was going to buy it at $60 but because you put the price up I will now obtain it without paying you at all" with any word other than entitlement.

            Which is not to say that the games publishers and developers are entitled to your money either. But that's the transaction that's laid out infront of you, and you don't have to make that transaction if you don't want to. The strongest message is to simply ignore the game. Don't buy it. Pirating it means you care. The same way that the opposite of love is not hate, it's apathy. If you want to tell a publisher that their price is too high, you do it by buying it at a lower price point, and ignoring it until it reaches that price point.

            This isn't like TV or similar, where the price is massively inflated and the availability is highly restricted so there's actually an issue where the publisher isn't serving demand. You just don't want to pay what they're asking you to pay. That shouldn't mean you get it for free - in fact, if that was the model we worked off, there wouldn't actually be a games industry, or any creative industries at all.

            Don't want to pay $80 for it? Don't. Scroll down a bit and find a code to get it for $37.50 from GMG. Wait for it to drop in price. Shop around. A price increasing on one retail shopfront is not a good reason for pirating it. To take this to its most absurd, would you pirate a game you were wanting to buy just because you walked into JB Hi Fi and it was $70 but when you went into EB Games they were asking for $100? How dare those EB people put the price up, I'll go get a copy for free in protest! That's clearly not a logical argument, but that's the argument you're making.

            I'll freely admit that I pirate stuff fairly often, but never simply because the price is a bit steep. If I pirate something, it's something I would never have purchased in the first place, something I did actually pay for but want to access in a more convenient way, or something that actually obtaining legally is difficult, highly impractical or actually impossible.

              The entire point of avoiding the 'entitlement' word is not because it's not accurate, but because it has negative connotations which distract from the central thrust of what the argument SHOULD be.

              I really reject the assertion that a more powerful message is to ignore the game. It doesn't send the RIGHT message.

              You've seen it said here and TAY and anywhere else: "Yeah, the game looks OK, but not launch OK. Just Steam Sale OK."

              That can actually be both an indictment of price AND/OR quality. If you're not willing to pay Australia Tax or willing to dick around with shipping delays from grey-imports and the hassles that can be associated with them, but still are absolutely keen for the game, Piracy would signal the strongest interest in the game on launch owing to its immediacy. Then buying it on a Steam sale later for the sake of your collection/multiplayer/patches/achievements/giving back to the developers but not what the publisher was asking for it, because that was too high.

              If someone resists the urge to pirate (with all its ease and lack of consequence) and waits til a sale, that doesn't exactly signal much enthusiasm for the product, to me.

              Also, what's not logical about piracy as protest? It signals demand, but not payment. Now, exactly what that's protesting can be left to the imagination. Lack of a demo? Price? Price disparity between regions? Frustrations with DRM? (Or uPlay/Origin.) You'll find people pirating for all those reasons, and just because those reasons don't make sense to YOU, that's just projection - it doesn't mean they don't seem like good reasons to the pirate. It doesn't mean they're lying when they give these opinions on internet forums, no matter what is claimed by every person who dismisses the complaints as, "Whatever, you just want something for nothing."

              Well DUH, obviously. But it's worth looking at why people want that something for nothing, instead of automatically assuming it's because pirates are tightasses. But that's what happens almost any time you see the discussion, and it's the problem with so many critics that they won't be able to change the very good criticisms that pirates raise in their protest.

                Have I ever mentioned I really like your posts? Cause I do.
                Have see many rants you have made expounding on various issues and opinions and even on the rare occasion I disagree they are always logical, grounded and well written.
                So kudos, keep up the good work.

                I've plus one'd you as I rather enjoy the content of your posts. Broadly speaking I agree with a number of your points. Having said that, I think you would be better looking at what is known as the price elasticity of demand. Strictly speaking your argument would present the hypothesis that the price elasticity of demand for this, and other games, in Australia is relatively elastic.

                Therefore, in the natural course of business you could assume that it has been calculated that the aforementioned rate of elasticity would issue the best financial outcome for the studio, and would factor in piracy.

                If you manage to collect enough data you could prove your point against another game with similar appeal and the same degree of price elasticity. If however, piracy did not increase or match that of your 1st selection you can begin drawing assumptions that would say that hydraulic manufactured demand(read Hype) has more of an effect on piracy than price. You may even find something to the contrary.

                In which case, you've extracted the moral arguments, and now have conclusive proof that the "Australia Tax" could cause piracy and a worse financial outcome for studios and should therefore be dropped. Presented in such a context by the community (read software pricing advocates, and consumers.) You might be surprised at what it could achieve.

              Stop assuming I'm using a price hike as justification for pirating?
              I know I shouldn't pirate it but frankly I don't care.

        I disagree, I think the best way is to buy the game when it's no longer overpriced.

        Think about it, if their market research data tells them that when they release a game, people in Australia simply don't buy it until it hits $60 than maybe they will start to realise that we are done being ripped off.

        What this means is not playing the new release games for a couple of months. Patience will be key here not flying the "Bones".

        Take f4ction response. He's gotten off the Hypetrain, and just doesn't think the game is worth playing, but he still feels the need to raise the Jolly Roger because he's scared that his opinion is wrong and it's the best game ever.

        I know we're all in the same boat here as we're all sick of Australia Tax there are only so many dollars we can throw at gaming especially now with the Abbot government trying to trick the state governments into raising the GST and the increase in the fuel Tax, which will in turn raise the prices of well everything. I don't think flying the Black Flag effects change.

        Perhaps convincing the Retail sector to go to bat for us by simply not purchasing games over $60 would. At the end of the day I don't think anything (Retail not buying games they can't move for $60, Swashing our Buckles or even Government Intervention as if it would happen) will see a removal of Australia Tax until somebody with some actual power forces a Dialog open.

        Maybe before you go to Long John Silver's Gaming Bay send off an E-Mail to Ubisoft asking when you can buy the game in this territory for the Reasonable price of $60? Rather than the highly inflated $99.99 price tag? One or two won't matter but what if they got a Million?

        I'm looking forward to getting Watchdogs, probably the GOTY edition with all the added DLC when it's > $60.

      You can purchase global CD keys on other webpages. There are some webpages that sell games dirt cheap and i notice the way you get them is either by CD key in email / webpage or they send you a game through gift.

    I hope to god they never fix the Xbone US region glitch.

      Wolfenstien was $99.99 on the Aussie store last night.

      3 clicks and a reboot later it was $59.99US…. or $64 Australian.

      Absolutely ridiculous!
      Didn’t help the 44gb download though.

        It is ridiculous, think I usually get charged around $72NZD.

        How long did that take? Titanfall was about 5-10min for 20GB on 100mpbs cable, I'm glad Watch_Dogs is only 20GB.

          Couldn't tell you.
          My stupid internet (Optus) is has a 2 separate but totally unnecessary peak/offpeak data caps. Peak is from midday to midnight, offpeak is midnight to midday.

          Basically I started it at midnight so it wouldn’t come out of my peak cap. For all I know it froze up overnight or is still going!

            you should check if they still have that..... i used to be on the same but then they scrapped peak and offpeak and i was able to get onto the new plan which is all in 1 chunk..... havent checked recently if its still like that...... but so good not to have to schedule crap

            I used to be on one of these, but I didn't know they still existed anymore. Have you checked with optus? Once upon a time I was on 20gb/month, then 50gb (30 offpeak 20 on), but nowadays they have plans for upwards of 500gb - I'm on a 1TB plan and the bills aren't much. The times are changing :P

        Wolf is showing as $79.95 for me? Still jacked up, but a far cry from $99..

          A legit Steam key for Wolfenstein can be bought at Greenmangaming for $48

          http://www.greenmangaming.com/s/au/en/pc/games/shooter/wolfenstein-new-order/
          using the code: FUSWJT-B1DU64-JBV8UY

          In a much less legit way, but still well within my moral bounds, I purchased an Origin copy of Watchdogs for $32 AUD from the Origin Store.

            I would have thought the moral issue came from using Origin!

              Haha! Yes, to be honest I hesitated because of Origin, but then I remembered that Watch Dogs is going through Uplay regardless of what store it's bought from. If there's anything more worthless than Origin, it's Uplay, so the extra taint of Origin was negligible, especially for that price.

                @puck

                How'd you get it to $32? :)

                  It was on sale on the Indian Origin store for 1700 Rupees which converts to ~$32 AUD. I used a free chrome extension called Hola to browse the web through an Indian IP address, went to Origin.com, added Watchdogs to my cart, disabled Hola and then logged in to Origin and purchased the product. You don't need to ever put in an Indian address or say you're from India, but if it detects an Indian IP it gives you the Indian Price. I've purchased SimCity (India), Titanfall (Mexico) and I think Battlefield 4 the same way. It's super dodgy, but I don't feel bad doing it. At all! :D

                  @puck I tried doing that for BF4 but I ended up deciding it was too much messing about to save 8 bucks.

                  It kept not accepting my payment details for some reason.

                @piratepete Yeah it's a toss up on whether it's worth it for a small saving, and most of the time I don't think it is honestly. But every once in a while there's a saving that justifies it. Actually, the first time I bought another region's game was to get around the Australian censorship on Left 4 Dead 2 - the side effect of getting it cheaper gave me a taste for the grey market :D

            I got my Wolfenstein key from here: https://www.ozbargain.com.au/node/144858

            tl;dr - $36 from http://www.gamingpanda.net with the code: GamingPanda

            Admittedly never used the site before I found that ozbargain deal, but I took the gamble and it paid off, thoroughly enjoying Wolfenstein.

            The only time I ever buy stuff from steam really is during steam sales, or if it's cheap either way (I'll probably pick up Transistor for $20, how much cheaper can it get? And it looks freaking awesome).

            India doesn't have it for that anymore but Mexico has it for US$45. Had no issues with buying from another counties store? I might buy it from the Mexico store

              Yeah the Indian price was on a pre-order sale at the time I believe. Here's where I found out about it: http://www.reddit.com/r/GameDeals/comments/22q0a3/origin_watch_dogs_deluxe_edition_preorder_indian/

              Sail the grey waters at your own risk. However I haven't had any trouble with it on Origin. I have heard that somebody has a friend who has a friend who was locked out of the Origin Store because of it though. Apparently they don't stop you from accessing your games, but they stop you from making any further purchases on Origin, although these same tales seem to suggest that emailing support and asking them to fix it will restore your account, so it's probably more of a safety measure than a slap on the wrist. No problems for me though,

        That download mist have been so fun on Australian Internet. Unless you have NBN

      You say glitch, I say feature.

        It is indeed a feature. Ive spoken to Xbox Customer service several times about it and they dont care, they just laugh when I tell them I do it for the cheaper price.

        Maybe they think "well there just gonna import a copy from ebay anyway, might as well get them to spend money with us".....I dont know.

        What sucks about it tho, is that publishers wont get accurate sales numbers from Australia.

        I hope one day, they will see that only 2 people in Australia bought a copy and then they might wake up to themselves.

      Tell me more about this Xbone US region glitch. I used to have a nice US account I used on my 360 to get US stuff periodically though it was a bit of a pain, but at some point MS noticed it and killed off that account :(

        Change your region under settings to US, restart the console and you can now buy at US prices for digital content.

      How do i go about finding out finding out information on how to do this "Region Glitch?"

        just change your region under settings to US, restart the console and you can now buy at US prices for digital content.

          Does it then act as if you are buying from the US. As in, I need to wait until the game is released there, or does it just switch the prices around?

            You will need to wait until US release date unfortunately, but quite often saving about $30-$50.

    We do make more money here, but we kind of have to when there's $16 difference between the price of a 6 pack of beer between here and the US.

      We also have one of the highest costs of living and lets not start about house prices.

      This is a digital product though. There's virtually zero cost in providing this product, so the price hike is unjustified.

        Yeah, I would accept a higher cost of living and not be in the U.S any day of the week, given what their society is actually like. Some things may be cheaper, but there is a greater chance to toil away in inequity your entire life for nothing but scraps.

        Everyone is well aware that the only justification is to match the 'more reasonable' hike that retail imposes, thanks to localized factors. Retail is standing over the publishers with a bat with a nail in it, threatening to not stock the publisher's products (which still generate a huge portion of income vs digital) if they don't raise digital to meet retail prices, preventing it from robbing them of customers.

        Of course, the publisher then gets THE ENTIRE INCREASE in price in their pocket. So they're not exactly weeping about the injustice of it, because people keep fucking paying it.

        You could argue that about all intellectual property.

        Does the colonels secret recipe have a price?
        Special Sauce from McDonalds?
        An education?
        Formulas for Pharmaceuticals?

      I don't drink but from what I've been told, another major difference between American & Australian beer is that ours is actually worth drinking.

      Kind of like that Python quote, American beer is like making love in a canoe; it's fucking close to water

        Australian beer is actually pretty mediocre, leaning heavily towards 'shit' if you start talking about XXXX or VB. Australian water is gross, therefore beer is gross. And our hops suck.

        Euro beer is the premium shit.

          I disagree, we've made leaps and bounds with microbreweries and companies like Little Creatures, Malt Shovel Brewery (James Squire) etc. Granted the big ones like Carlton Draught, VB and XXXX are pretty rubbish, but there are plenty of good Australian beers in production.

          I agree, having lived in the US for 3 years I think their bets are superior and their brewing culture more mature than ours. HOWEVER, the standard brands over here like Tooheys and VB shit all over the stock brands over there like Bud and Busch.

          Stop drinking shitty beer from the Eastern States.

          Most of the European beer exported to Australia isn't their equivalent of XXXX or VB though. People willing to buy imported European beers here are probably after something more up market, so that's what gets imported.

          So ignoring the more upmarket Australian beers is a false comparison.

            Except that the bulk of European beers on our shelves are brewed in Australia under license anyway... So they're still using our shitty water.

            Premium Australian craft beer is where it's at... And that probably deserves the mark up its given because it's tasty.

          Australian water is gross, therefore beer is gross.
          I'm pretty sure our water is better, as the water/gas ratio is lower thanks to less fracking.

          Depends with VB where it was brewed, the shit they sell up here in Queensland is brewed with local water which is just horrible.. It honestly tastes better in Victoria..

          But come on, we have some good beers like James Squire & Coopers for example. Boags goes alright, too.

          Also some Euro brands are now brewing here in Australia, Coopers apparently takes on contracts for several Euro beer brands.. Makes sense when you think about.

          Ugh, beer. Give me good quality Bourbon any day. Or a nice single malt Scotch or Irish whisky.

        The best American beers taste much like our worst, nastiest beers, like West End or Fosters. I'm in the US with work for a small period each year and post-work beers with our American team is a relationship strengthening event they put on for us. If only they could understand what hell they're subjecting us to...

        I found a lot of the beers in the states to be amazing. If you're drinking the regular commercial brands then you'll get very much the same quality as you get here, but the craft beer market is exploding over there, and you'll still pay about $4 for a pint.

    I wonder if that community manager will be 'cautioned' for engaging on what is typically a 'no comment' issue.

      In my experience Ubisoft has always been the most open about Australian pricing.

      I genuinely hope not, as whilst it comes across as still a little "PR-ish", they've made a decent attempt to be up front & honest about why the change was made. Like Mark said - we might not agree with the reasons/outcome, but at least they've been open behind the reasons why.

      Kudos for that at least.

        I can't see why they don't just even out the pricing, increase the US price slightly and reduce the euro price slightly and have everyone pay around the same price and have revenues roughly the same.

    I'd thought that was the Ubisoft rep was trying to say with that comment is that the content _they_ license to put in the game (music, ads, middleware) gets charged regionally. If that's the case, then I could see why they would want to charge regionally themselves. I mean, it might not stop me from importing where I feel like it, but I understand it.

    What a load of shit. The cheapest place to buy it at the moment is Greenman Gaming which is based in the UK and part of the same "European region" they love to put us in. That, plus all the Day 1 DLC / Season Pass crap this game has, ensures I will be buying the GOTY edition for $5 in a years time.

    Last edited 23/05/14 9:32 am

      I fucking hate Greenman Gaming. Ever since they opened up I swear it has become harder for me to create new user accounts on websites related to video games. Thievin' bastards!

    it amazes me people are still shocked by this... certain developers/publishers are known for adding "aussie tax"... its just a shame that ubisoft list things at a cheaper price first and then bump it up... assassin's creed liberation HD was another recent example... went from $19.95 to $27.95... I believe AC4 did before it as well...

    amazingly Trials Fusion didn't suffer from this (perhaps a different ubisoft arm?)

    other publishers like Bethesda (Wolfenstein being my latest example) just screw us straight off the bat with a $79.95US price tag where our American friends get it for $59.99US

    luckily Wolfenstein and many other titles can be obtained and activated on steam from many legitimate sources for the proper US pricing and sometimes cheaper. Look at GreenManGaming, who is one of the only online digital dist sites I've seen try and fight against the bullshit Aussie tax that publishers force upon them, they even have offered special aussie only discount codes for games like Borderlands 2 which they were forced to sell for a higher price to us. They said screw it and gave us a big discount code.

    My point is, this isn't new, unfortunately with ubisoft titles if you really want them on steam (like I do and many others) you have no choice but to buy on Steam usually as buying from GMG or Amazon or wherever will typically only get you a uplay key. There are some exceptions to this, Amazon sells a AC4 steam key for example.

    SOLUTION: If you see a game by these "aussie tax" enforcing publishers listed on steam at the same price as the US site (easy to check by adding ?cc=us to the end of the URL in your favorite browser)... shop around and see what other options there are, but if its an ubisoft title, I suggest buying it! I did with watch_dogs, grabbed the deluxe edition for $69.99US and I'm happy I did! Yes I paid more than I could of gotten it for, but I have it in my Steam Library and for me that was worth the extra $$$'s

      No one is amazed or surprised, i can't see anyone expressing at at all... I can't see anyone inferring it's new either, what are you talking about? People being annoyed does not mean they're ignorant.

        the fact that there is an article on this when most people should be used to this crap by now is what i'm referring to... people are ignorant, you may not be seeing it as yet in replies to this thread but there are many that don't get it or simply wear the price jumps and pay it... i see it all the time, people whinging about this stuff or saying they're going to pirate the game instead when there are other options/solutions...

          Making noise is kind of how you indicate there is a problem. And that you want it fixed.

            Depends though. There can be a vocal minority who are only shouting for their own benefits or control.

          Of course there are plenty of other altenative ways to get a game at good price. But that is not going to fix the problem for the other people. Broken price still broken and they still wonder why sales are so low in Australia.

      We're not still shocked by this, we're still pissed at this. The problem doesn't go away just because we've always had to put up with major price differences. Your solution is what we should do but it's not all we should do. We should go the digital import route but we should also complain. Every single time it happens we should make a fuss because otherwise there's no hope of it ever changing.
      Personally I just don't enjoy having to mess with my account settings on every digital store just to get the fair price. It's a pain in the butt and I shouldn't have to do it.

        shocked was probably a poor choice and obviously we're pissed, complaining about it doesn't solve the problem either as they will always find a bullshit reason to justify it even though we know they're full of it... regional pricing is a potential solution, but at the same time it could also be a way to screw us further... right now we're able to compare USD to USD and see how screwed we get... we can complain until we're blue in the face but will it get us anywhere if we still keep spending the money they demand of us as many people do? sending a message by not paying the inflated price makes sense to me, but clearly there are enough people still paying the bullshit prices so they keep doing it (just a theory obviously)

        why mess with account settings? i've never had to do that and have been shopping around for years getting the best price 99% of the time for what i want when it comes to digital games... at worst my amazon account uses a US address so I can benefit from their pricing but thats it?

      To be honest though, while the Aussie tax is pretty brutal, things have been getting better. I remember when new games commonly were priced at $100 and console games were even higher.

      A good example is that when Return to Castle Wolfenstein came out it was $100, the newest one is $80-$90. When you consider factors between 2001 and now, you would think it would be on par, if not higher.

      Not to say the Australia Tax is fair, far from it. I just think that things are slowly getting a little better and I would say digital distribution and indies have really helped that. They have shown that a quality title doesn't have to command AAA prices. In fact, indies seem to be doing it right, through digital distribution they don't wildly vary in price between regions like the bigger titles do.

      Lets give it more time. If and when brick and mortar stores die their slow deaths (like DVD rentals), the arguments that are put forward about having to not undercut stores, then we should hopefully see more changes.

      I'm pretty sure that Trials Fusion was more expensive, only by $5 but still...

        its $19.99 on the US and AU steam store

          I was sure I saw it for $25... Oh, maybe thinking of something else then, my mistake.

    ozgameshop.com $50. code via email. WIN.

    Also I think yesterday (maybe still on) they were offering 5000 bonus player points (reward points) for pre-ordering.

    I haven't purchased any AAA games on steam for a long time. Steam prices are only awesome during sales and for older stuff.

      can be had from GMG for $37.50US using the code PT7ELX-1WPWNT-7UAGQZ

      uplay key only obviously

      Last edited 23/05/14 9:39 am

        where do people get these codes? Where were you 2 days ago when I pre-ordered my copy =(

        *sobs quietly*

        Ok I'm over it now. Cheers for the info though.

          GMG's blog and twitter are always worth looking at before you do an order, I've saved a decent chunk of cash with their codes

          one thing i find extremely handy is a browser addin called enhanced steam

          http://www.enhancedsteam.com/

          load that up and when browsing games on the steam store you'll see the current "best" price for a game (assuming you've enabled that option) ;)

            Yeah good tip. I do have that at home (no chrome at work) but i rarely browse the store on a webpage. I tend to forget about that feature. Thanks for the reminder

          Others suggestions are good. I also use this site to keep track of deals for games on my wishlist.

          http://isthereanydeal.com/

    Best way to protest is not to buy it.

      No, it's not. Then they think there was no demand and fire the studio for producing an unpopular game.

        No mate, they're not stupid. If people don't buy it, yet the game is critically acclaimed in reviews they will work out quick smart what went wrong, especially if they use stats to show what Country people are playing the game in.

    as said above, for new games on steam, greenmangaming is the way to go. US prices and usually a 20-25% voucher on top of that as well

    Amazing that it can be so inconsistent, yet the same companies will sell apps on the App Store and Google Play at a set price that is just automatically adjusted for different regions.

      I guess that would be because App Store and Google Play does not allow Australia Government to enforce the Australia Tax. And also they do not have competitor in their field in the retail business. One reason why digital goods are the same price as retail is because the Government is protecting retailers. I'm sure I read somewhere about some rights to protect retailers.

    I actually know for a fact that some companies (not necessarily video game related) will intentionally mark up the price of their products when selling in Australia simply because they know that Australians are willing to pay more. And honestly, I don't blame them. That doesn't mean, however, that I support it.

    If people are willing to pay more, there's nothing wrong with setting your prices to accommodate that, just don't expect me to fall for it - I'm smarter :)

    Last edited 23/05/14 9:43 am

      Yeah, the only way it's going to change is if people actually get serious and stop buying the stuff. It's all well and good for us to sit around and complain about the Australia tax, but then a whole heap of us are going to run out and buy it on day 1 anyway.

      What it needs is some kind of co-ordinated consumer campaign. E.g. get everybody on board with some kind of buyer's strike - say nobody is going to buy anything during the month of July or whatever if it doesn't have price parity with the same game on the US version of Steam / PSN / XBL.

      If that actually led to a significant drop in sales that month, they might start looking at us as actual customers instead of walking wallets.

      I kinda agree, I am smart enough to use the XBO us marketplace cheat and use 3rd party stores when buying Steam games. However I do think that the cost of a product should be the same no matter where you live with maybe a small markup if it is on a disk.
      Games are around $20US in Russia as piracy is so bad there, its a shame that it is the reverse here.

      A company should advertise here that their product will not have an Aussie tax and see how many people buy it just for supporting equality.

    At the end of the day if we're paying in USD I just can't understand why they charge more. $60 is still $60.

      That's the most fun part, we get charged more on steam and still pay in yankbux so when the exchange rate separates again, we have to pay even more

        Right? What's the exchange rate right now, 0.9 or something? So you pay $82.50 AUD for your $75 USD game which should only really be $60 USD to begin with. Granted, I'm already paying a ludicrous amount for the game since I went Dedsec edition on Xbone, but still.

          The US price doesn't include local taxes which would bump it up close to the price Aussies pay. Same for all internet purchases originating from the US.

            Only Washington has a 9% sales tax on digital purchases. The majority of US customers do not pay additonal prices on the steam price.

            Assuming our GST applies in place of local sales taxes (being what, 10%?) the final USD price on a $60 game should be no more than $66. instead, we see prices as high as $99, depending on the publisher.

    I don't get how places like Ozgameshop, based in the UK, can get it so much cheaper for us then, if we are based on European prices as they would be.
    http://www.ozgameshop.com/pc-games/watch-dogs-code-by-email-game-pc

      Because it's bullshit and not true, that's why. This is just a way to get more money. Period.

      OGS isn't European priced when you talk about the aspect ubi is, the UK are their own pricing region. Technically we should be too, but we are not worth the effort for the bug publishers.

        “Unlike Ubisoft US, Ubisoft Australia & NZ is a part of the European business group,” Ubisoft Australia explained. “We buy and sell product at euro-based cost of goods and royalties, as does UK, France and most of continental Europe.”

          You do know that Steam's planning to introduce AUD pricing soon, yeah? Of course it means that we'll probably have to start paying GST on stuff, so there's that too...

          I didn't state what currency they buy in, they are still technically their own pricing region, their products are priced differently from the rest of Europe. Hence the term "technically".

    Part of the issue is that Australians keep paying the price hike. The only way to change it is to hit them in their wallets. I've seen so many friends complain about price then buy it the next day. That has to change first otherwise the companies never will.

    Do most people buy from steam or steam resellers? Besides their super sales I think the only thing I've bought was the 400 days DLC for walking dead.

    Seems like I will be replaying Dark Souls 2 till more affordable means are available...

    Blah, blah economy of scale aside, this is also annoying:

    Gamestop - $60 US
    EB Games - $100 AUD

    Today's exchange rate would make a $60 US game $65. We're paying an extra $35. That's over 50% of the value of the game more.

    On top of that, there's no difference in price between the Xbox One and 360 versions at Gamestop.

    Fucking explain that to me.

      The real kicker is no one anywhere is taking credit for that $35 price difference. The developer says they don't get it. The publisher says they don't get it. The retailer says they don't get it. Apparently that $35 vanishes into thin air when it leaves our wallets. I can think of much better uses for it.

        I wouldn't be surprised if that money goes directly into Tony's wallet through some government loophole. He really does need the money, he's only earning a little bit less than Obama.

          Earning more than Obama actually. I believe Obama is like 380,000 Us, while Abbot is over 500,000 Aus

            I thought Abbot was like, 420,000 while Obama was 450,000.
            and whoever is in charge of Canada is 120,000.

              I think it was recently discussed in the media that Abbott gets $507,000.

        Yeah it vanishes into the thin air of Clarence,the shop assistant's baggy pants pocket

          Yeah fuck those fatcats that work at EB and make so much money and have such great lives constantly asking people if they want to preorder the next bullshit ninty title. If I fucking worked there I'd steal too.

      When distributors that handle the Australian side of physical media stop charging out the fucking arse is when we will see a price drop at the retail level. As it stands, if prices haven't dropped since January, EB Games Australia is paying about 75-90 dollars for a PS4 or Xbox One game (I know some are even cheaper again like Knack & Tomb Raider) & around 55-70 for PS3 & 360...

      It's fucking bullshit but what are you going to do, honestly? Pirate all the games so it gives them the distributor reason to charge even more? or buy from overseas and then have the gov't say all things like DVD's, video games & Blu-Rays cop import taxes to offset no one supporting local..

        Wow, I didn't know the distributor charge that much!

          Yeah it's kinda alot fucked up. Even Big W, K-Mart & Target pay the same, yet they willingly to sell them for less than what they paid for them and are happy to take a loss because they can apparently make it up elsewhere. Which is unfair on retailers like EB who make their sole profit on games, since no one makes profit on consoles or first party console hardware apparently.

    “Unlike Ubisoft US, Ubisoft Australia & NZ is a part of the European business group,” Ubisoft Australia explained. “We buy and sell product at euro-based cost of goods and royalties, as does UK, France and most of continental Europe.”

    This has been one of my biggest annoyances with video games since the 16 bit era - the fact that Australia (and New Zealand) are not in our own separate region but are instead lumped in as part of Europe (Yes, I do realise the practice was going on before the 16 bit era, however it was in the 16 bit era that I first became aware of it).

    Back then...I could kinda understand it. Our TV's used the PAL system, as did Europe. The US used NTSC. It made sense in that regard to give Australia the same version of the game as Europe got. But that meant we needed to wait until the game was translated into several different European languages (languages we shouldn't care about in Australia as our national official language is English - yes there are French people living here but that doesn't mean a game needs to be translated to French before releasing here) which meant at the very least that we got it several months after the US did - sometimes a lot longer than that. Sometimes we didn't get them at all because a translation would have been too hard or costly.

    Nowadays though? With the introduction of digital TV's the whole PAL/NTSC thing is completely moot. The only technically feasible reason for putting us in the European region has not been relevant for a good 10+ years now. The only reason we are still part of it, I feel, is tradition. We've always been part of the European region for historical reasons. It's time that changed.

    On the plus side, for the most part these days we don't need to wait months after a game releases in the US before we get it here - most games are released in all regions almost simultaneously (with the exception of Japanese only titles) - that's a good thing. But the pricing model is still outdated.

    At the very least, we should be our own region, but ideally we should be part of the Americas region, and get the same version of the game as they do, at the same time, and at the same price point.

    Thankfully (for the consumer) there are ways to circumvent this absurd price gouging of Australians.

    These flimsy arguments that companies like Ubisoft (amongst others) put up for higher pricing in the Australian market are insulting to their Australian customers and just make me feel more justified in finding alternate methods of purchasing their products, which mean their Australian "business group" ends up getting zero clip on the sale.

    The more people learn they can get around being gouged by multinationals this way, the more pricing will level out. The problem is that at the moment, there are enough people who just cough up the extra by either not knowing there is any alternative, or not caring, so companies continue this discriminatory Australian pricing, and reap the rewards.

    tl/dr Ubisoft are full of it.

    I bet it's really to cover shipping costs and hiring mercenaries to protect them against pirate attacks en route. Yar har fiddle-de-dee me hearties.

      Nah to protect against shark attacks. They're the pirates of the sea.

    Or, buy it on console for $65 from DSE, play it, trade it in or sell for $40-50.

    OR, buy on Steam and lose $80+ forever.

      Where did you get $65 from?

      http://www.dicksmith.com.au/playstation-4/watch-dogs-ps4-dsau-yg10200

      Current price is $74.98 across all platforms.

    I’d like to hear more about local distributors arguments for their pricing. Firstly, why do you need a local distributor? What does a local distributor have to pay?
    If they have to pay for marketing and considering that marketing is usually close to half of a games budget, I could kind of get it. Marketing here is insanely expensive – especially considering the limited audience.

    Meh, ozgameshop will have me covered should this game actually turn out to be good when the review embargo lifts on release day. In the meantime I have cancelled my preorder and after seeing how the childish community at /r/watch_dogs reacts to any hint of criticism for the game I have no regrets. This shit is also a deal-breaker for me

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