Are Australians Being Charged More For DC Universe Subscriptions?

When it comes to MMO subscriptions, most will charge Australian users the direct exchange equivalent of what gamers in the US are paying. World of Warcraft, for example, cost $15US and that's the same for everyone - if you are paying in Australian dollars you are simply charged what the exchange rate dictates. With DC Universe, however, players are being charged a flat rate in Australian dollars, which has resulted in a $5 mark up per month - and users are not happy.

For a monthly subscription Australian users are being charged $19.95AU, to play on US servers, whereas gamers in the US are being charged $14.99US. With parity between the US and Australian doller, this basically amounts to $5 extra a month for Australian users, playing on the same server, which amounts to $45 a year if you purchase a one-year subscription.

With every other MMO we can think of, users are asked to the subscription fee in US dollars, with the Australian price being dependent on exchange rates at the time. The main issue is the fact that this extra cost was not advertised anywhere - users were only made aware of the extra cost after purchasing the game.

The issue was raised on the Sony Online Entertainment forums and, as you'd expect, users were extremely angry at the price disparity. Forum user Killiandros summarised the issues in an extensive post.

After activating the game with my license key and looking at the subscription options, I was presented with the following choices:

1 month $AUD19.95* every 1 month

3 month $AUD54.95* every 3 months

6 month $AUD99.95* every 6 months

12 month $AUD179.95* every 12 months

Lifetime $AUD224.95* Non-recurring

Compared to the advertised US subscription fee pricing via the FAQ (http://www.dcuniverseonline.com/faq.vm), and keeping in mind that the USD is at parity with AUD it works out to be approximately (for PC):

~AUD$4.96 more expensive for 1 month

~AUD$12.96 more expensive for 3 months

~AUD$21.96 more expensive for 6 months

~AUD$44.96 more expensive for 12 months

~AUD$24.96 more expensive for a non-recurring lifetime subscription

Had I known the AU subscription pricing plan in advance, I honestly would not have purchased the game. I can afford the extra money – but it’s about the principle – why exactly should we penalised for living in a different region? Does it cost SOE more money to let an Australian/NZ player subscribe to their game? Not in any way that I can imagine.

When it comes to distributing products sold at retail, it's not unreasonable to expect a difference in cost - the Australian market is smaller, there are additional taxes, and increased shipping costs - but when it comes to something sold virtually is it right for Australians to be paying more for the exact same service?

With Xbox LIVE for example, Australians pay $20 more than US subscribers, but that could be the result of exchange rates between the US and Australia when the service began.

We've contacted Sony Australia directly for comment and they're currently looking into the situation. DC Universe Online's Community Manager Tony Jones is also looking into the situation and plans to update Australian users with a statement explaining the price disparity soon.

We'll update you guys as soon as we have any new information.


Comments

    I really think when it comes to digital distribution, especially when it's the same data coming off the same server, they should just set a single price (whether that's in US dollars or Euros or Yen or ****ing Gil for all I care) and just charge everybody that price at the exchange rate of the day.

    There's no justification for the gouging that goes on. You could maybe allow for some kind of difference if they actually had local servers and local support, since that would cost them more than just running everything out of one location. But there doesn't seem to be any extra effort being made for Australians here, so why are they charging extra?

    Well duh, the disparity is a combination of the 'you live in far far away land tax' and the 'Sony says bend over and spread your legs tax'. Everyone knows that.

    I really wanted to try this game out. The subscription fee disparity is discouraging me.

    If there was actually Australian servers then i could understand the localised pricing but this is simply taking advantage of a smaller market. Shame on Sony and SOE.

    This is incredibly disappointing because, according to the article, we're playing on the same servers, meaning we'll be taking a performance hit.

    So we're paying more for a worse experience.

    (Well, not me, I don't play MMOs since I stopped paying for my WoW subscription. But still insulting.)

      Yeah I wasn't sure, is this true? If the servers are hosted in the US, or rather are simply not hosted here but rather elsewhere with all the others international servers then not only do we get worse connections but we're paying more.

      If the servers were hosted here I imagine they could say it's due to higher costs maintaining servers in Australia, which I could probably believe.

      "DC Universe Online’s Community Manager Tony Jones is also looking into the situation and plans to update Australian users with a statement explaining the price disparity soon"

      Soon being as soon as someone can come up with an excuse that they can use. Either that or drop the price.

    Unfortunately this is the joys of being in a commodity based economy. The reason we instantly don't get the advantages of dollar conversion rates is that the AUD is normally so volatile. We are experiencing a high dollar at the moment, however when China starts to wobble or the next crash due this year or next (euro? US municipal bonds? AUS Housing bubble popping - probably all three)... the AUD will collapse. If you recall 2007 it dropped to 70c in a heartbeat... this time it will be much, much worse.

    Businesses are profiting now and buffering the coming collapse.

    Unfortunately for us, this sucks. Don't blame the messenger either - just pointing out the reason why we're constantly being screwed via the AUD$.

      Except that (1) we're not talking about a physical commodity, and (2) if like other MMO's they charge you in US dollars they have absolutely zero risk from exchange rate movements. The consumer wears the risk of paying more this month (in Aussie dollars) than they did last month, but regardless Sony gets $15 USD to cover their server operating costs, which would be in USD considering it's where they are hosted and likely supported from.

    That's it. I'm not buying this game.

    If we don't take a stand somewhere, we may as well hand them our credit card numbers and say "go nuts"

    I think its about gravity, out bytes of information has to travel uphill to get to the US servers which of course costs more.

      You should become a US science teacher

        Then he'd also have to give us the biblical explanation of why we have to pay more for less. Couldn't be any less plausible than any other answer they might give us, I suppose.

          Did the lord not say in Pricegouge 13:2 "Higher shall be the charges and longer shall be the wait for those in faraway lands for they are the dregs of the earth. And thus shall their currencies not stand amongst equals, one dollar shall equal one euro but one dollar need not equal one foreign dollar unless thou canst profit from it."

    Not defending sony here but please keep in mind 2 points

    it is being charged in AUD so you are avoiding foreign transaction fees from your bank (usually about $2)

    as well as this if Sony Australia or a company within Australia is charging, they are legally obliged to charge GST.

    so 10%

    so that would be $16.50 inc GST

    doesn't explain the major difference, but possibly some of it.

      sorry mate but if you're being charged $2 by your bank for an overseas transaction you need to change banks!!

      i buy from overseas all the time and am charged a very small % of the cost price... its not enough to justify such a big jump in price between regions (in the case of SOE)

    $5 extra a month is one thing, but I think the bigger problem with DC Universe is the fact that I, along witgh many others, have paid $100 for a game that doesnt work. The ps3 vewrsion of the game is freezing about 1/2 minutes intop the tutorial and I have no idea when it will be fixed. Waste of money.

      seems to work fine for a lot of people

      any other aussies that can confirm? have you seen others with this problem john?

        http://forums.station.sony.com/dcuops3/posts/list.m?topic_id=5911

        Big thread here

      I agree John. Kotaku AU, never mind the price difference, we'll all be eating our words when the dollar plumets anyway, you should be paying attention to the fact that the PS3 version of the game is broken in Asia, Australia and South Africa. There is a 30 page thread on the support forum on the DCUO website. Kotaku AU, put this story on your front page, tell people not to buy it until it is resolved. Right now Sony is selling a broken game!

    Could be worse. FFXIV charged its subscription fee to Australians in Euros, which absolutely boggles the mind as the Euro is only slightly more relevant to Australians than the mexican Peso.

    Can they charge GST if the service is being provided from Overseas???

    That doesn't quite seem right.

      of course they can. If Sony Australia is the chargee then GST must apply.

      You pay GST on steam, psn ,xbox live etc because an Australian company is charging you.

      Just because the data overseas, does not matter.

      The revenue is coming from Australians into an Australian company via an Australian bank account into an australian bank account against an australian companies revenue and must be reported on the BAS.

      So yes, its a service that attracts GST

        But if we were paying to Sony Australia, they wouldn't need to convert the money to USD.

        Which is their excuse for the higher fee.

        You don't pay GST on Steam, as you are paying a US Company.

    Wait, playing on US servers? So, factoring in the pings you are getting an inferior product for a worse price?

    Businesses! Please TEST YOUR ASSUMPTIONS before you do things like this.

    Pretty much exactly what you do not need when you have just released a shit MMO. This game is doomed, not just because of price but because it is crap at a fundamental level.

    Apple charge US users $49 for the latest upgrade to iLife11 while in Australia we are expected to pay AUD $ 69. Given the strong Australian dollar, this is a absolute rip off. Thanks APPLE... NOT !!!

    Easy fix, when your signing up say your from America in the relevant box! Boom $15us a month! Doesn't matter if your cc is to an Australian address (as silly as it sounds).

    Too late for anyone who as already signed up though :(

    I got this game the other day and have been playing it non-stop (PC Version). However I was pretty ticked off that they only give you this information AFTER you have purchased the game.

    Would be great if they give us a real reason, but I doubt they have one other than the 'bend you over' tax.

    as one of the original complainers on the SOE DCUO forum... theres no question we're getting ripped off...

    you just need to look at the sub prices for ALL MMO's made by SOE

    they're all $14.95... and ours are all $17.95... EXCEPT for DCUO... which is $19.95... the $5 complaint is one thing but why do we get charged more JUST for DCUO when the americans get it at the same price as every other MMO that SOE puts out?

    its a joke and it means that i won't be continuing to play after my initial 30 days is up purely based on principle (i'll be at level 30 anyway so no big deal i guess)

    Now I don't know if they have shoehorned in an updated prices page to the website recently, perhaps they have after this guys post, but the FAQ page he mentions is quite clear on pricing...

    http://www.dcuniverseonline.com/faq.vm

    Australia has been placed under the PAL/Euro banner again, like we always do, no surprise there. So it's more like...

    Lifetime - €179.99 = AUD$246.00, We pay AU$224.95, ~$22 Less
    12-Month - €119.99 = AUD$163.99, We pay AU$179.95, ~ $16 More
    6-Month - €64.99 = AUD$88.82, We pay AU$99.95, ~ $11 More
    3-Month - €34.99 = AUD$47.82, We pay AU$54.95, ~ $7 More
    1-Month - €12.99 = AUD$17.75, We pay $AU19.95, ~ $2 More

    Which isn't as bad as he makes it out... Is the guy just pissed that Australia's pricing is based on the Euro model instead on the US?

    I agree a single currency should be used across the board, but I don't feel as though our prices that are set are anywhere near the level or gouging or unfair in anyway.

      Another way to look at it... PC Version (though it works out quite similar for PS3)

      US Game = $49.99

      1M - $14.99 (30% of game price)
      3M - $41.99 (84% of game price)
      6M - $77.99 (156% of game price)
      12M - $134.99 (270% of game price)
      LTS - $199.99 (400% of game price)

      AU Game Price = $79

      1M - $19.95 (25% of game price)
      3M - $54.95 (69% of game price)
      6M - $99.95 (125% of game price)
      12M - $179.95 (225% of game price)
      LTS - $224.95 (281% of game price)

      Relatively, their subscription prices are expensive compared to the cost of the game itself, but obviously someone will point out that games in AU are overpriced in the first place and that is the only reason why that difference exists.

      To be honest, I love a good bargain like everyone, but I'm starting to get over the whole price debate in this country, there are more factors involved than simply just exchange rate. In a perfect world we would purchase goods on exchange rate at the time of purchase, but this is never going to happen.

      Our AUD is strong at the moment and we have the choice to save money buy purchasing goods overseas if we so choose. I'm perfectly comfortable with the price of video games in this country, especially considering that we are still roughly playing the same amount for a game today as we were 15 years ago and even then there were games that sold for $150 on the SNES, etc... ie: Street Fighter!

    The response to this from SoE on the forums was that the company they do their subscriptions through change them for international purchases and then a player who claims to work for said company said that it was a bold faced lie. What the SoE devs have made a fantastic game, but their community mods and accounts teams are destroying the game before it even takes off

    I can confirm, and I'm sure a lot of others can as well, that the game crashes within 2 minutes of you logging in, which for most people will be the tutorial. There's a big fuss about it on the official forums, and to be honest I'm frustrated that I spent an entire day waiting for the 'update' to download yesterday only to find it crashing on me before I even get a chance to get into it. Add to that, no refunds because it's an online game.

    Kotaku, I suggest you look into the freeze issue instead of just the subscription issue. It's a much bigger problem right now and we're all lost as to why it's happening and when it will be fixed.

      anyone who has purchased it should take it back to the retailer and demand a refund

      they cannot refuse you as the product was not 'fit for purpose' @ the time of purchase. If they balk talk ACCC and fit for purpose, they will listen.

    the only issue i see with charging us 20 dollars is that it hasn't gotten us an official set of servers in australia

    i have no problem paying more for that even if i did end up playing on american servers.

    but the issue is that were being charged more for no other reason than well there australia

    I was excited for this game but I refuse to pay to play it when I have already bought it.

    Aussies are getting totally abused with this game. The amount of people on the forums complaining about freezing issues (they can't even leave the training room) is quite large, and it seems to be mainly aussies having the problem.

    I haven't even tried the game yet, I got home all excited to create my character but ended up having to go through an 8 hour update!!!! And i'm not exagerating either :( Had to leave it on over night just so it would be ready for me today.

    I found it funny when I went to do a quiz on their facebook page and it asks me to select my country... it had about 16 countries including NZ, but no Aussie selection... just further shows what they think of us

    What the hell is the point of paying more... when we're getting a service that is a piece of crap!

    Also I should add, the issues I've been talking about are from the PS3 version, no idea how the PC side is holding up.

    So is this Superman 64 all over again?

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now