How The Weak US Dollar Is Good For Video Games

The US Dollar is as weak as it's ever been at the moment. That's (generally) bad news for Americans, but for everyone else? It's good news if you buy video games and like to save money.

It's long been a complaint from gamers in territories like Europe and Australasia that video games are disproportionately priced overseas when compared to what Americans pay.

Here's what I mean:

(I haven't included Canada for obvious reasons, while Latin America, I know you pay even crazier prices, but the lack of official retail channels makes recommended retail price comparisons difficult. Suffice to say, though, that the following advice applies just as easily to you as it does the Irish or New Zealanders.)

Ridiculous, isn't it? While it's a relative comparison, given the fact the recommended retail price for games doesn't change radically within the boundaries of one country or territory (e.g. games have long been $A110 here), it's a comparison we still get to make since we live in a time of internet shopping.

To start saving some cash and start taking advantage of this once-in-a-generation weakening of the world's primary currency, then, you'll need to ditch your local games retailer and head online. Buy your games from America, where thanks to the weak dollar, the buying is cheap.

(Those experienced at this sort of thing, you won't find anything new here. But if you've never considering importing games before, and think now's a good time to start, read on!)

While some US stores like Amazon make international video game purchases difficult without a third-party workaround (like Bongo or Parcel2Go), others - like Play-Asia - have no qualms shipping internationally.

Whichever option you choose, you'll be saving money. The chart above, for example, shows that a new video game in Australia costs $A110. That's how much I'd pay were I to walk into a local EB Games and ask for a copy of Fallout: New Vegas on PS3.

Yet on Play-Asia, paying using the weakened US dollar, I can get a copy of the same game on the PlayStation 3 for $A65, a price that includes shipping. That's almost a half-price deal on a brand new, AAA title.

Buying stuff online isn't fool-proof, however, so exercise a little caution before you start spending. While many systems (like the PS3, PSP and DS) are region-free, others (like the Xbox 360 and Wii) are not, so you'll need to make sure the game you're buying is compatible with the system you own. Europeans should also note that Play-Asia won't ship Sony products to the Old World.

You'll need to do your homework when buying hardware too. For the sake of warranty and game compatibility we'd recommend in most cases sticking to your local model, but if you absolutely must import (whether for big savings or for a rare model), make sure your house can handle the voltage of the imported system, and that you're prepared to have all your games flown in if your new console isn't compatible with the games available in your local store.

As a general rule, handhelds are fine to import from the US. The PlayStation 3 is also not too difficult, since its games are region-free. The Xbox 360 is a little trickier, since some of its games are region-free and others are not (that decision is left up to the publisher). And the Wii? Every Wii game is region-locked, so unless you want to mod the console or import all your games, bear that in mind.

Now you know all that, it's time to hit the internet and get yourself a bargain. Who knows how long the US dollar will stay this low, so the sooner you get cracking, the better!


Comments

    Region locking kills this instantly. It needs to be banned internationally to avoid regional cartel behavior. Also, many retailers won't ship consoles internationally. It's no wonder that people pirate games (I don't).

      Its kills it for the X360 on most games and the Wii. PC and PS3 aren't affected by region locking

        Not all games are region locked on the 360, most, and a surprising number of AAA games, are only split between PAL (UK, Aus) and NTSC (Japan, US) regions.

    It should be worth mentioning that DLC on PS3 is for the the vast majority of the time locked to the country where the game is sold ie US games will only work with US DLC and JP with JP, and UK/AU with UK/AU.

    If I may point this out, while the XBox 360 has a region locking mechanism, it is still optional.

    If a game has no region coding, it will still work on foreign consoles, eg: a US game will work in an Aus console.

      Could you clarify (if you can) the UK/AU part? Do you mean PS3 DLC i purchase in AU will work on a UK disc?

      I have been using www.ozgameshop.com which are a UK retailer basically so they are UK game discs, but haven't used them for some titles as I thought DLC I get on the AU PSN wouldn't work with these imports. Would it?

        My apologies, I was referring to physical disks.

        DLC, as far as I know, is region locked. Or in the very least, inaccessible if made exclusive for a given region.

        Again, my apologies, I should have mentioned my focus on physical disks.

          No need for you to apologise.
          I do though. I meant to reply to MrBS

        Generally speaking, any Australian bought PS3 DLC will work with the equivalent PS3 UK game.

        The secret is looking at the spine of the game, for the product ID. It's the code that starts with BLES. If both the UK and AUS releases have the same code (and most do), then DLC is compatible between the two.

        The only title I know of that has a different code for UK/AUS is Uncharted 2.

    ecogamer.com.au for info on importing is a great website.

      Not just for imports. They cover instore promos and deals too. Pretty good if you are looking for a bargain.

    The xbox 360 actually doesn't lose out that much. The consoles aren't regioned like DVD players (1,2,3 etc) but by NTSC, PAL and JNTSC. So u can run any European game which makes amazon.co.uk a great option( plus faster postage and it's really cheap unlike the us store) I have been using zavvi and every game works perfectly and if ur wondering about any other ones check play-Asia they have a compatibility guide for each game. Alot of people probably know this but I never see it mentioned in discussions like this!

      have you had any issues with playing on live or with downloading dlc with the uk games?

        Found this http://whirlpool.net.au/wiki/ps3_regional_locking which says AU DLC will work with UK discs (for PS3) ... well most of the time.

          I've never had any trouble with UK ps3 game imports for dlc on the aus psn

    It doesn't really kill it instantly for the 360. I just ordered Fable3, it's region free and so are many many more 360 games.

    I've been doing this same thing, except from Hong Kong for ages. The exchange rate between Aus and HK is always about 6-1, I don't see any point in buying locally, its a waste of money. I know that this of course hurts the local economy, but why the hell should I get ripped off?

    The strong Aussie dollar (or weak US, however you want to spin it) has already saved me hundreds of dollars. Have recently picked up Castlevania: LoS, Enslaved, NBA2K11, Star Wars: TFU2, Rock Band 3 and Fable III for $350 in total from Play-Asia. That includes shipping.

    Here's to a return to parity in the near future!

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