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.