An Open Letter: The Australian Dollar

An Open Letter is a new feature where we communicate directly, mano e mano, straight to the heart of someone/something/anything in gaming. This month we appeal to the super buff Aussie Dollar. Is its new found strength a positive or a hindrance for gaming?

Dear Australian Dollar,

Hey dude, we heard you’re pretty buff these days – you’ve been hitting the gym, haven’t you? Sculpting the guns eh? You’ve gotten much stronger – and don’t think we haven’t noticed man! You’ve never looked better, and you know what - good for you!

You’re big news old chap! You’re strong. So strong, in fact, that you have the power to crush stuff with your bare hands. The local Australian games industry for example.

Yeah, you forgot about that didn’t you? A little too busy oiling yourself up in the mirror to care about the effect your clumsy brute strength would have. Too busy power blasting your quads to give a crap about the affect your squats would have on local development. You’re like Dirty Harry. Sure, ‘you get the job done, dammit’, but there’s always a fair amount of collateral damage.

But yeah, sorry Aussie Dollar, maybe we’re being a bit harsh, maybe we should ease up on the rantage. I guess we do have to take the rough with the smooth. After all, your fresh buffage has allowed us to save cashola with some slick importing...

But what if we don’t want to wait weeks for delivery? What if we want our goods and services right this instant? Yeah Aussie Dollar – all your bicep curls haven’t helped us get cheaper games on our home soil, has it? We’re still paying the same price we were last month. And the month before that. And three months before that when you weighed 70 kilograms soaking wet!

So what’s the point, eh? You’re like one of those body builders that can’t run 40 yards without gasping for breath! One day you’ll stop hitting the gym twice a day and all the muscle will turn to flab – what then dollar? What then, huh?

Hey Dollar. Are you listening man? Hey. Dude! Stop looking in the mirror man! Stop flexing! Pay attention. This is serious! Dollar?

Ah – just forget it. Meathead.

Yours, Mark Serrels


    Shouldn't a high dollar mean that videogames in local retailers are cheaper. So I'm hoping that when JB puts Black ops on the shelf it will only cost 75-90 dollars. If we are paying $100-110 dollars for a videogame when they pay USD60 and our dollar is so high, then we are getting majorly screwed over.

      You keep reaching for the stars Doug, we're all behind you

      I once worked at Harvey Norman, and I can confidently say that the games retail profit margin is incredibly small, which is why so many stores get into used games.

      Specifically, I can remember that we were selling 'Infamous' for $89-ish when the cost price was $84 and we were actually losing money on every copy of 'Wii Sports Resort' just to stay competitive.

      Most video games don't require accessories like a phone or iPod does, so there's not much opportunity for bundles or specials either.

      JB Hi-Fi have a great business model in minimal margins - low prices earn repeat customers, those customers sell games back for internal currency, and JB resells those games for cash again.

      Games prices haven't fluctuated worldwide that much at all forever. so, I don't see why Australia should be any different?

      In fact I can see it as a good thing, obviously as the article stated that we can import games more cheaply. But, publishers from overseas, sony, microsoft, nintendo etc are reaping greater profits and are probably focusing more attention to this part of the world now,

        And the AUD will eventually go back down to a more normal level eventually. Everyone knows already it's way overvalued.

      you'll be able to find COD: Black Ops for about $85-$90 at launch at retail. all the stores will be ultra competitive and will lose money on this game for the first couple days if they have to (in order to win customers, expand their market share).

      i'm pretty sure JB and big W had Modern Warfare 2 for.... i think Big W was $89 and JB's $93.

    haha brilliant, thats all i can say

    Man, i'd really love to add to that, but you've pretty much summed it up perfectly - and more importantly, humorously.

    And serreliously.

    I'll just sign my name at the bottom - although i'm still undecided at to whether or not i erase your name, or just ADD mine.


    On the plus side, with the Aussie dollar being so strong i'll be able to do a lot of my Christmas shopping with Zavvi, saving me a pile of money on everyone's gifts.

    While i'm at it, i may just kick dirt in the face of the likes of Myer, David Jones and EB Games while i do it, just to add to the "HAH!, you don't get my money with your horrendous price-gouging ways"

    Dear Aussie Dollar,

    Just to bring you down a few pegs you aren't really that strong. Just because you seem to be sticking it to the world bully at the moment does not actually mean you have bulked up. It more your competitor has contracted a debilitating disease that makes you appear better.

    Real respect comes when you give the euro a shove.

    Love Dean

      You may have also noticed the AUD/USD has dropped from more or less parity down to 96 cents in less than 24 hours (big drop for those you don't follow currencies). Reports say it's largely due to China changing interest rates.

      As you say, the AUD isn't as strong as the article suggests, but we should definitely take advantage of it while we can.

      The AUD growth against the euro has actually been better then against the USD, but its also doing worse against the Yen.

      Actually the aussie dollar "is" getting stronger against other currencies. Your point is still somewhat valid but it's actually a bit of both as evidenced by these following graphs:

        Thanks for the info Ian but I am a bit dubious about clicking any link called x rates while at work

          ha ha, fair enough. It was just the first random page I found with that information. ;)

    It's great for me, since I import just about everything anyway. The only way the value of the aussie dollar is going to matter in the slightest is if retailers and publishers were to start taking it into account and changing their prices accordingly.

    We know that of course won't happen, it'd sure be swell though.

    During these times I visit eBay a lot more and my local comic shop's prices drop.

    I like it!

    Almost everything games related gets screwed when our dollar goes up. Being a consumer, it really does bug me that games bought here cost so much. You can argue as much as you want about import costs and the like but in the end those extra costs do not add up to 100+ AUD for console and PC games alike. What bugs me more are the regionally priced games on Steam - activision and 2k are the biggest culprets. Some people argue that it's to push some of sales back to retail in which case the consumer loses again anyway. There aren't any import costs, there aren't any local retail distribution costs, we don't even get a friggin pretty box and CD to go with it.

    Then of course, sympathy has to go to the small games industry here cuz everything Australian made has it harder when the AUD goes up. They can rest assured though, our Aussie dollar can't stay this high forever, not unless the rest of the world has economic issues forever or we experience one hell of a permanent economic boom.

      Don't forget that the steam discriminatory pricing is still in US money so when our dollar crashes & burns again, we'll be shafted more than ever before, a us$90 will end up costing us $120 if the dollar goes back to the old standard of us$0.75

      I've pretty well given up buying retail for anything other than impulsive purchasing, most of my stuff is online sales and places like ozgameshop (au$40 for civ v rather than us$90 and the only downside is waiting a week or 2 for delivery, very reasonable trade for me)

    It occurs to me Mark, that you don't have an Aussie flag beside your name. This confused me at first, as I wondered why American Kotaku guys would care about our dollar.

    What we need the strong dollar for though, is for when Nintendo Australia decide the price of the 3DS.

      I suspect that means it's also been posted on the wider Kotaku network. If you look at any of his other posts, he is aus flagged. Being as how he's the new Wildgoose (now with added Simon Pegg).

    Hahaha, I like.


    Yep. I've lost 30% of my income in the last 12 months. Biggest problem is that I make free games and earn money from advertising, so there's no room for me to adjust my prices like other exporters.

    Hey Dollar, here's the TV remote and some cheeseburgers, relax buddy.

    Hmm With is Being High i get my Games from and they Ship from the warehouse So will that make there online Prices Cheaper becasue they are already pretty good on most Games. B

    Better then the Likes of Ebgames they just Rip You off Last time i brought a Game ots Eb's was MW2 for 120$ it was a Piece of Crap Game and in no Way worth the cost so ViVa La

    Agreed. It's kind of silly that the rising Aussie dollar is actually weakening our economy by forcing people to import.

    The last game I actually purchased in Australia was... The street fighter IV collector's edition from JB Hi-Fi almost two years ago. I don't think I've bought a game from EB games for at least 5 years.

      I don't know, it sounds like a classic negative feedback loop...

    "Too busy power blasting your quads to give a crap about the affect your squats would have on local development."

    It's 'effect' not 'affect'.......

    I hate being a grammar nazi so I apologise profusely.

    Because we have an established price point for games it is unlikely to change much, unless everybody starts importing games and it starts hurting sales.

    And here's my face when some Steam games are charging more for Australians even though it's in USD.

    Bloody publishers, bloody local retailers.

    Correct me if I'm wrong Mark but as a "games journalist" don't you get your games for free? Plus don't they get delivered to you (on most occassions ) before they hit shelves?

    For the rest of us who do pay for games - I think it's nice to be able to save up to $50 for a game. I don't really mind waiting for a game especially when I've got a backlog. Plus on the cheapest postage packaging with Play-Asia I only waited a week - and I live in a regional area. Not that bad when I pay $25 for Kane and Lynch 2 and the cheapest I could find in store was $69.

      I've worked for a company that has been involved with receiving games on a regular basis and I'd imagine ours was simmilar to what Games Journalists have to put up with.

      Yes, games are sent to him and he doesn't have to pay for them, but I would imagine the games aren't technically his, but the property of Allure Media who run Kotaku. or perhaps some versions would need to be sent back to the publishers after a few weeks.

      So Mark would have a nice rental system going for himself as would other Journalists, but I think you would be surprised how many of the journalists would be also buying quite a few games to own for themselves.

    As a new home owner AND a game developer I think the strong aussie dollar is still a net benefit. Sure it has hit out industry hard and I'm not making light of that point. However what we now need to do is stop thinking of ourselves as people who must ask americans for money to make games for them (aka work for hire) and start to think about what games we can make to create real sustaining value in our industry.

    On the other side of the coin, while we may be making "less money" that money is worth more. It will mean less pressure to raise prices so things like interest rates and cost of every day goods will remain affordable.

    So while I understand it's not all roses I think this is an overall net benefit for us aussies (in the long run, at least).

    By my logic, if the Aussie dollar is roughly equal to the American dollar and we have roughly one tenth of the population of America, then one Australian is worth ten Americans!

      We probably have 1/10th of their total riches though. :(

    The price of items is a factor of competition and what people will pay (notice I didnt mention cost to manufacture*). There is no competition on importing games due to publishers and Aussies will pay about $80-$100 AUD which has been the case for 15 years or so.

    *If cost to make is higher than customers will pay they just dont make it.

    That said.. entropay+digital download. Google it :)

    Good time for this article what with bethesda doubling the price for New Vegas to $90 US just for us.

    As for the dollars strength being good or bad its a good thing if you avoid mainstream channels like EB or Steam where they will never EVER change prices based on exchange rates except to bump them up.

    I doubt it's helping make our own games market any more feasible. They still cost the same to make, but will make less from overseas markets.

    Hey Aussie Dollar! Oiiiii! You I'm talking to you! You lost 2c last night. Where did you loose it? I bet it's down the back of the couch. Seriously a friends husband used to do menue design in Melbourne for the company that did that ww2 plane game Blazing Angels: Squadrons of WWII. They basically shot themselves in the foot when they qouted cheap when the Aussie dollar was weak, then when it got all muscular, then their bottom fell out!

    My day job means I have to keep one eye on the currency. Not a main focus but an influencing factor. From the articles I've read, I wouldn't expect it to remain at this level for long. Part of the reason it's at it's current rate is because the USD (and GBP, Euro etc) is so weak rather than true growth in strength in the AUD. This is because the US Reserve is 'printing money' to cover debts.

    One thing that could weaken to AUD itself is if the demand for commodities go down, the dollar will drop with it as its one of our main export areas. Commodity currencies like the Aussie dollar fluctuate quite readily on any change in markets. Saying that we are at the highest exchange levels for quite some time.

    But it's economics - whenever there is a winner, there's a loser.

    Ive noticed that xbox 360 games have increased in price this year. From $99 to $109 to $119 for full retail just released prices. $119 for Halo Reach is insane when in the US its $59.99 (Amazon). Either the distributors or the stores are ripping us off....probably a bit of both. Im glad I placed my region free game orders before the aussie dollar dropped to 0.97!
    Are they that stupid that they think ppl wont turn to UK or region free games from the states?
    But I guess the retail stores are just as bad charging $400+ for jeans which are only $150 inc postage from the states.

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