Government To Hold Online Retail Forum

Government To Hold Online Retail Forum

One of the major Australian talking points here at Kotaku, especially over the last year, has been the increase of online importing and its impact on games retail. After Gerry Harvey and other retailers railed against online shopping and its effect on the Australian economy, it seems the issue has been made a real priority by the Government, who have announced an Online Retail Forum to “discuss the opportunities and challenges that exist for Australian retailers in the digital economy.”

Confirmed speakers so far include Senator Stephen Conroy (Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy), Senator Nick Sherry (Minister for Small Business) and representatives from Australia Post, eBay Australia, PayPal, Grays Online and Temando.

It’s an interesting proposition. With the Labor Government currently attempting to push through the National Broadband Network in the face of opposition, it’s in the best interest to show that Australian business will benefit from its implementation, therefore it’s possible that this ‘Online Retail Forum’ will be about showing how retailers can use the internet to their benefit, as opposed to shouting it down as an enemy to be feared.

More and more consumers are importing games into the country, especially in lieu of the strong Aussie dollar. How long this situation will last is up for debate, but this Online Retail Forum may be of interest to anyone and everyone interested in the price of goods and services in this country. With video games continuing to cost more in this country compared to the US and Europe this is an issue that continues to be important for gamers in Australia.

More information, including info on live streams, and attendance can be found here.


  • I’m surprised the ACL haven’t got themselves on the ticket. I thought they insisted on having a speaker at any discussion about topics they have no stake in and know nothing about.

  • In other news; EB Games throw their expected RRP of the 3DS from $349.95 up to $399.95 showing their compassion for competing against internet buying/importing. We will be paying an extra $150 AU for this handheld compared to American markets and $30 more than in Europe. Of course this is just one example.

    These companies don’t give a damn about competing, they just want to shut these online stores out all together so we HAVE to buy their inflated prices.

    If I knew where Mr. Harvey lived I would take my dog for a walk past his house every morning if you know what I mean.

    • 1. We get our prices from Europe, which is why it’s bullshit to begin with. They’re getting ripped off, so that’s why we are doubly.

      2. It’s back down to $348, but the 3DS will be $399 here, if it’s not I’ll eat a hat.

    • Thanks for the info, very informative, if there is one place we need to be in tune with is the Whole World, staying current is important to my family and yours. I’m looking into more insight for companies like to get more detailed information on companies that offer great online solutions. any feedback would be greatly accepted. thanx.

  • I’ll start buying stuff (mainly books) from Australian retailers again when it is no longer cheaper to import the goods (including shipping fee!) by more than 10%+.

    • Spot on. Why would I pay $70 when I can go the book depository to buy the same book for $50 including shipping? Why should I pay $100 for Killzone 3 when Ozgameshop can get it for me at $65?

      • why buy Killzone 3 from EB AU for 108 when i can buy it for 60 from EB US the megacorps have no reason to be complaining about this when i can import from them anyway for cheap

        • Books are slightly different to games due to parallel import laws. I work at a co-op on campus and we can’t get the books cheaper than BD sells them.

          • Because of parallel import: ie. Australia is set up to benefit “suppliers” who are the importer and wholesaler. Same thing in the musical instrument industry. Billy Hyde is wholly owned by an importer, so if a competitor wants to sell an Ibanez guitar, you actually have to buy it from Billy Hyde (via their distributor). Its ludicrous.

  • I assume that you reference to it being made a “real priority” was sarcastic, given that setting up a “forum” is the preferred method of avoiding actually doing anything.

    • Nah man, he’s out there, fighting the morally righteous crusade against those damn spams and scams coming through that annoying portal. My hero.

      (BTW, what happened to the filter?)

      • lol

        Stephen Conroy, it takes a real man like him to fight against the Intertubes. And everyone else for that matter.

        Filter? Oh, it’s part of a package called the NBN. Without the filer, it’ll be 2x faster. With the filter, it’ll be 100x speedier than ever. Can you imagine? We won’t have much else to download after it. Legendary.

      • On hold for a year, in theory, until the review of our classification system is completed. Still by no means dead though.

      • The filter is MIA for a short while (at least a year?). I just hope they don’t tack it on to the NBN bill, where it will be all-or-nothing.

        The filter is ridiculous both in the idea and in the execution of it. Sure, stopping criminals and the flow of kiddy porn is a priority, but the proposed filter will do next to nothing to achieve the lofty goals it has set itself.

  • I’ll be curious if anything will happen any quicker than the movement to push an R18+ classification for games which has been subject to forums/research etc for what? Three or four years now without any measurable effect….

    • Well if it is the whole retail sector and not just games it probably will happen faster. All grown ups shop, only a few weird grown ups play mature games.

  • So who bears the cost of this forum? The reatilers are already overcharging us and now we have to pay to educate them!!
    Better be Gerry, if this is where my tax dollars are going i’m going to be pissed!
    How bout a forum for R18!!!
    Oh the irony of it being an “Online Forum”!

  • I’ve just ordered a popcorn machine from overseas. Just in time too by the look of it.

    /offers popcorn to all commentators

  • I thought that the reason that we have the $1000 threshold is that the volume of sub-$1000 packages which come into the country combined with the incredible extra expense involved in accurately inspecting and pricing the goods plus the actual rigmarole of billing people, holding packages and so on would cost vastly more than the small amount of GST they’d recover.

  • Well when I worked at GAME I could check all the cost prices of games and hardware. For many games the mark up was a mere $10… In some cases we only made a profit of $3 on a brand new game. Why? Well we can blame the distributors and the taxes placed by the government.
    It has been said many times… Retail lives off the sale off used games… not new. You are not getting ripped off.

    So is the solution to tax online retailers harder? No. Why punish those who have found a successful and new form of selling games.
    Should we punish systems like Steam? No. Steam is a wonderful program that allows small studios to actually sell their product. Games we would have never seen before can now be released through Steam. If anything we should punish price discrimination based on region (but that’s another issue… Oh how I hate you Activision… Smug assholes charging $40 more because we live in Australia)

    No we should no punish them. What needs to be done is for distributors to lower their prices and the import taxes that retailers pay to be lowered. Couple that with more incentives to buy retail (such as pre-order bonus) and an emphasis on customer service and retail may be able to live.

    • ‘You are not getting ripped off.’

      Yes, we are. Not so much by the storefront for games, who as you have said make a small margin on new games, but you cannot deny that we are being ripped off somewhere along the line.

      • That’s key, isn’t it? At some point, somebody is massively inflating costs. The distributors in Australia? The publisher’s distributor? Where is the money getting pissed away? It’s the same in so many things. For example, I’ve been getting involved in sports shooting, a 10-round magazine for the rifle I’ll be buying is $15 in Walmart in the USA, but $50 in Australia…

        • Yep, the massive inflation is really annoying. If you listen to last weeks Game Arena Podcast, Serrels was on it talking about this. Basically, he concluded that there’s a black hole out there somehwere, swallowing monies and increasing the cost of games.

      • The reason why we get gouged is because of our location. Its the same reason we normally last to recive games. the US will classify us as part of the EU, the EU classes us as part of the USA and Aisa just doesnt give a flying fuck about us unless there are cute native animals involved.

        Publishers like activision and ea always say that we are charged more because of shipping prices, which before the age of digital distrubtion is acceptable even more so with an extremely aussie dollar. But online distrubtion it is just pure BS that we in the oceania region are fucked over.

      • Indeed we are being charged madly, yet the reason why should be familiar to any gamer who’s played Civ4 & discovered currency: Everything is worth what its purchaser will pay for it. We are being charged $105 for a new release because we are willing to pay $105 (well, apparently some of us are).

        I’m not convinced it’s because of regional issues, differences in currency valuations or the usual easily identified excuses – could it be as simple as the detail that we’re willing to pay this much, whilst the providers are willing to make as much money as we’re willing to give them?

        If so, then the answer is simple: wait for the markdowns to start. Changing supply & demand curves like this may take time, but it works.

      • It has to be the publishers, who are the original importers and therefore have hedges against rises in the dollar or whatever, and have their own layer of staff etc to pay.

        Simple solution – buy online, or wait for the inevitable price drops

        • It would also explain why certain games are marked up on steam when if you just put in “/?cc=us” you can see the sheer difference in price. Civ V is either $50 or $90 (both in US money so when the dollar bombs again we’re doubly screwed)

      • When I said ‘We are not being ripped off’ was referring to the hate directed at retailers. From my experience retailers are run by people who care about the customer.

        I think the biggest issue is the death of retail. There is and always be a group of people who enjoy a physical copy of their game. There is also a group that enjoys going to their local store, having a chat with the staff then buying their game there. And there also will always be people who do not trust online distribution/retailers.

        I have not gotten a retail game in about 6 months because Steam works for me. If a game has digital price discrimination I will buy from an online retailer because I simply wont support a practice that is so stupid and abusive.
        But I think stores need to stay. But I also really hope that online retail is not hit hard after the whines of a few self-interest groups.

    • Regional discrimination should (and may well be) illegal, but that’s a topic which is as easy to get people to comment on as it is to draw blood from a stone.

      Still, says something that even though we’re charged more than other territories online, it’s cheaper than retail.

      • Under the AUSFTA Steam’s practices, at least, are illegal. It’s not that they overcharge us on the Aus store that’s illegal, but that they don’t allow us to access the US store.
        In a roundabout way their price gouging is illegal, but since none of us have the money to challenge them over it nothing’s likely to be done any time soon.

  • There is one way of looking at the online tax. 10 people buy the same product, some are cheaper and some are more expensive, if the government taxes that product at the average price of that item, it means that some people will be taxed more and some less on the exact same product.

    Plus the government has already said that the cost of implementing such scheme will outweigh the revenue it could produce.

  • Well that’s it folks, we’re screwed, drop your pants and prepare for the price gouging to resume.

    It’s funny but when the problem is individual rights, like say an R18+ for games, the issue takes years to be resolved and can be blocked by a single chest thumping clown.

    But when it comes down to money, shareholders and people who could potentionally bankroll elections, there’s a forum within mere weeks of retailer complaints.

  • I just hope that somehow, even if by accident, any changes that are made as a result of this forum benefit the general public. There’s probably more chance of Sam Kekovich becoming a vegan though.

  • Gerry Harvey is just whining, he’s been undercutting small retailers with imported goods for years and now that people can buy cheaper over the internet (and not from him), he calls it un-Australian. Someone tell him to get a deck of cards.

  • Well, i am dont have an income thats high to support the already iflated prices on everything here so none the less i will continue to buy my games off play-asia.

    Unless the can actually lower the prices of goods in australia they may actually make some money.

  • Retailers are charging what the market will bear. If people stop buying games at $100, retail would have to drop the introductory pricepoint.

    Personally, I wont buy a new game for more than $50.

    And Gerry Harvey is a greed driven fossil who needs to step aside and let someone with a broader vision of the 21st century retail landscape take charge.

  • God damn, haven’t they figured out that people buy from over seas is because its about a good 20-40 bucks cheaper?

    Australia is a laughing stock when it comes to game retails. In that we get games 2 times more expensive merely because we live in australia, and some games just happen to never see our shores.

  • Looks like Labour is once again going with Plan C – Announce they’ll let the people decide and then do whatever gives them political donations so they can spam us in the lead up to an election.

    Just like the game reclassification – that will never happen because of the Australian Christian Lobby, we’re going to loose this battle too. At the end of the day, politicians will listen to the lobby groups and ignore the electorate.

  • Would the minimum wage have anything to do with the price discrepancy?

    In the UK, the minimum wage is £5.93 per hour.

    In Australia, the minimum wage is $15 per hour.

    So, using the apparently current exchange rate of 1.6015 AUD to 1 GBP, the UK minimum wage is $9.50 per hour.

    Now, new games in the UK cost on average £40. To buy a game in the UK, a UK person must work 6.75 hours.

    New games in Australia cost $100. To buy a game in Australia, an Australian person must work 6.66 recurring hours.

    In the meantime, the US minimum wage is $7.25 US per hour, which is about the same in Australian Dollars (let’s say $7 Aus for argument’s sake). New games in the US cost $60, or 8.28 hours work.

    My maths are probably completely wrong, but if they’re right then Australia has the most affordable games by their standard of living, going by the minimum wage.

    Of course it’s much cheaper to import from elsewhere still – if the same game costs nearly half as much in the US, why not?

  • Fine. Let them tack on GST to imported games. It’s still bloody cheaper to import them than it is to buy them here. Average new release in the US: $40-$60. Average new release here: $90-$130. We’re paying, on average, twice as much for games here as we can buy them from overseas.

    For years, we were never given a realistic alternative to going to the store and buying a game, and they’ve gotten used to that. for the last 4-5 years, tho (maybe longer, I don’t keep track), there has been viable competition opened up in the overseas markets. And no matter how much the retailers bitch and moan, people will do what they have always done: go for the cheaper alternative. The effects of a global marketplace are finally striking home, and the Aussie retailers don’t like it, because it’s eating into their profits, and they can’t figure out why, instead coming up with reasons such as the GST.

    Sorry, GST doesn’t account for half of the game’s price.

  • Most customer’s are hypocrytes.

    I bet all these people who buy off the net cheaper than retail wouldn’t like it if their employer reduced their pay due to loss of sales from clients who shopped overseas.

    All these SME’s who get heckled for a discount by tightasses. Then i bet if these tightasses were told by their employers that they have to hand over say a 40% decrease in their fortnightly wage due to business being quite and their work output has been down for the fortnight by 40% ….. these disgraceful tightasses will be running to courts to sue.


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