Could Retailers And Publishers Reduce Game Prices In Australia?

Game prices -- in Australia it's the ultimate taboo subject, but we managed to get hold of Ed Fong, Managing Director of Ubisoft and Paul Yardley, Managing Director of GAME, to talk game prices in Australia. Can we go lower? And how can the local industry compete with the rapid growth of online shopping?

"The exchange rate is the exchange rate," says Ed Fong, with a shrug. "18 months ago it was a very different story. Should we peg our pricing to exchange rates? That gets messy.

"I think that if the exchange rate stays where it is, there’ll be a price correction."

This is Ed Fong, Managing Director of Ubisoft in Australia. He's talking about game pricing, in a refreshingly frank manner.

For years we've attempted to convince local publishers and retailers to discuss the issue of game prices in this country. It's been a debate punctuated with off the record mumblings and long, awkward silences.

We've been asking the questions - but no-one has bothered answering.

Until now.

The Sea Change

We're talking to Ed Fong at Game-Tech. Just under an hour ago Ed was on stage presenting, informing a group comprised of his peers and partners that retail was the greatest challenge facing the games industry today.

With the rapid growth of online shopping, and the dramatic shift in competition that comes with it, both publishers and retailers are starting to take notice. Previously publishers would point blank refuse to discuss pricing; now it's a subject for discussion.

Previously retailers were keen to shift the blame on to distributors, but now outlets like GAME want to take responsibility.

"I think there are challenges that retail in this country has to deal with," claims Paul Yardley, Managing Director of GAME. "One of them is a structurally higher market. Rents are high, the cost of employing people is high - running a business here is a cost high enterprise to begin with. That's fine, we can deal with that but that's partly why Australians pay slightly higher prices for a wide range of things."

Of the specialist retailers in Australia, GAME has been one of the most open about the issues facing the Australian games industry today. Games are too expensive, consumers shop online, a lack of competition has left local retailers struggling to adapt. In short: things have to change - and fast.

"Gaming in Australia is priced much higher than it is anywhere else in the world," continues Paul. "And that's a real challenge for retailers here, because consumers - they want a cheap deal, and they'll go and find one. We're seeing a growing proportion of our customers - the very price sensitive end - going overseas.

"As I've said to you before, the industry has a lot to do in order to provide a price point that is really compelling. Retailers and distributors and suppliers all need to hold up their part of the bargain.

If local industry is to adapt to an increasingly savvy consumer base, publishers and retailers are going to have to work together.

The Price Is Wrong

"Most people are talking about pricing, which is a very contentious issue," claims Michael Ephraim, Managing Director of SCEA, "but it’s not something we can control locally because we live in a country at least three-quarters the size of America with a tenth of the population – so the cost of the business is high.”

This has been the stock standard response to most enquiries regarding Australian game prices, but does that answer hold water when consumers can easily import games from Europe at dramatically lower prices than we pay locally? And how long can the local market sustain the pressure of this competition?

"Ultimately the consumer is going to tell us what they want to pay for a product," says Ed Fong, "because if we’re priced out of the market, we’ll see more people going online - the consumers will let us know. And consumers are as vocal as they have ever been, they have communication channels and we’ll hear what they have to say."

It's a frank admission, and testament to the power of the consumer. If we refuse to cough up for exorbitant local prices, publishers will have no choice but to reduce prices - adapt or die. Many retailers have claimed that they are already selling at just above cost price - are local publishers making more than they let on?

"Not being privy to the financials of distributors," begins Paul Yardley of GAME, "I don't know.

"I can only see what we make here locally compared to the UK and other territories and I can say - and I suppose I would say this - we are not the ones taking the cream."

The Black Hole

So where is this extra money going?

"The only thing I can think of is that there is duty on importing games into Australia," he continues, "and there is GST. But 15% doesn't explain the huge mark-ups. I'm not sure I have the solution other than to say that we all have a case to answer for. I'd be keen to put the case to the publishers to hear what they have to say.

"It's more than just a retail problem."

We put it to Ed Fong of Ubisoft - is there a giant black hole sucking up the profits made by local publishers and retailers?

His answer is uncharacteristically frank.

"No no!" He laughs. "I wish! I wish I had the key to that black hole!

"If you’re talking about consoles, well, the console price is driven by the first parties, because the first party royalty structures are set up in a way that we buy goods from them. That’s the starting point. The only thing that really differs is whether a business is US based or European based. We’re primarily a European company so our price structure is done via head office. We generally find that European pricing - France, Germany, Spain - is more expensive than the US. That's where our pricing is derived from.

"There’s no black hole – the retailers make their margin, obviously, but our business is absolutely focused on cutting all the other costs out. We have very efficient distribution, we have very efficient warehousing systems to make sure there is no extra cost in the market. That’s a real challenge for Australian distributors, because it is a huge country."

Once again, it seems, we're at an impasse.

The Odd Couple

According to GAME's Paul Yardley, game prices are everyone's responsibility - and if everyone played a part, we could be paying less.

"The industry needs to adapt." Claims Paul. "The third parties have to look at their cost structures and their ability to adapt to that changing environment with overseas pricing. First parties have to look at royalties and their agreements with the thirds to make sure their business model is viable as well."

Part of the problem is that, while tech savvy consumers are often happy to make purchases online, the vast majority feel more secure shopping in-store (at a premium) for a number of different reasons.

"Overseas websites won’t be able to get the product to consumers day one," says Ed Fong. "That’s our number one advantage. There are a small percentage of consumers that are quite comfortable buying something online, but there’s still a bit of a risk with a $100 transaction. Unless you know what you’re doing, you’re going to think twice about it. Whether it's a digital download or a physical product that’s going to take a week to get here – there’s still a risk.

"The whole PlayStation outage put a question mark towards that. For the consumer it’s an absolute deal breaker. If you don’t trust the online environment, you won’t go there. You might do your research online but you won’t buy online. We’re talking today about mass market consumers. Mass market consumers aren’t as tech savvy as those I would call ‘gamers’."

Online shoppers are in the minority. With the vast majority of consumers still willing to pay more, publishers have no real incentive to reduce prices. Yet.

For retailers, however, who are at the forefront of increasingly brutal price wars, the situation is a little different.

"As retailers, when it comes to pricing," begins Paul Yardley, "we're at the sharp end of the stick. We have to take some of the pressure from our customers about pricing. And quite rightly so - we wear that."

We Fade To Gray

We ask Paul - as a primarily UK-based retailer, GAME are in the perfect position to simply import games from the UK, at a reduced cost - why not simply move the business to grey imports exclusively?

"We could do it tomorrow if we wanted," claims Paul, confidently. "And that's not a threat - it's just a fact.

"But our position is that we support a local, thriving gaming industry and that, to me, has to involve local publishers because they have a key part to play in promoting product here in Australia.

"If we were to import all of our Sony products, for example, there would be no Sony presence in this country, because there's no reason for them to exist here without distribution. If we broke the banks everyone would follow - therefore Sony wouldn't market any of its products here.

"So actually we might shrink the market if we sold grey imports."

The publisher/retailer relationship is a strange beast - and when you combine that relationship with the increasingly volatile gaming consumer, there's potential for chaos. With the online shopping boom retailers have essentially gone from zero competition to more competition than they can handle - in the space of just a few years.

And both retailers and publishers are going to have to adapt. Eventually.

"If Australian customers spend their money overseas," says Ed Fong, "we don’t have a business in Australia. Absolutely that is something we need to look at."

Paul Yardley concurs.

"We have a bit of time, I think, but it doesn't mean the pressures are not there," says Paul Yardley. "I think it's a case of people having to wake up and realise that margins are going to be lower; we're all going to have to make less money.

"And that's a pretty bitter pill to swallow. It's hard for all of us."


Comments

    “I think that if the exchange rate stays where it is, there’ll be a price correction.”

    But it's not like the Australian Dollar just became level with the US Dollar yesterday :/

      Yes, BUT it's widely accepted that the Aussie dollar is way overvalued at the moment, and will come crashing back down to a 'normal' comparable-to-historical-long-term value in the next 24 months.

      If prices go down now to chase exchange rates, they would go waaaay back up in 24 months. And if our economy hit the skids, then the price would skyrocket - as said in the article, very messy.

      Prefer a permanent solution.

        Shane,

        It's a bit more complicated than that. It's not that the Aussie dollar has been going up all that much, its that the US dollar has been going down.

        There are ways to mitigate exchange risk so I don't really beleive the exchange rate BS they feed us. Cars, fridges, flights etc all go up and down with the exchange rate!

        Really? Where is your data? Do the futures, forwards and swap market indicate that the A$ will go down? Currency is largely driven by interest rates and pretty much all major economists in Aus are saying that our interests will go up, making A$ go up with it. Not that I trust any economist, but market participants listen to them.

        I work on a currency desk for a fund manager BTW.

          Exchange rate has to go down, it's fscking our manufacturing industry.

        I really don't have any issue with fluctuating prices. I'd rather have the price drop when the dollar is high and have the price go up when the dollar is low, and at least know that I'm getting fair value for money on a given day.

        Lots of prices go up and down... look at things like petrol, meat, fruit & vegetables. They're always moving around due to variations in the dollar, supply and demand etc and most people don't seem to have much trouble understanding why. I'm not saying that absolutely everything should be priced on a day-by-day or hour-by-hour basis depending on the dollar, but certainly in a situation like we have now where the dollar has been very strong for an extended period of time then they could justify a significant drop in the price of new games, consoles etc even if it means prices go back up if/when the dollar drops again.

        I understand it's a complicated situation, and I definitely don't have all the answers.

        Our dollar is better not just against the US dollar, but against most major currencies. Our dollar was overvalued before the US dollar plummeted, though of course that was a factor as well. Whether ours is going up or theirs is going down, this wonderful exchange rate won't be the situation forever.

        I do know, however, that our economy is doing so well largely in part to the success of the mining industry.

        The productivity of the mining industry, however, is on a sharp decline (yes, there is data for this), as they have already removed all the easily obtainable minerals and now need to go deeper and use more expensive and time-consuming techniques to get the same amount of product.

        It stands to reason our economy will not be strong forever. Prices and things are already very interconnected with international monetary movements - I think it would be a nightmare to directly tie game prices (and other prices) to exchange rates.

        Not disputing any of the points you've raised, but I personally would like to see more stability in prices (in all things, not just games) so I know what I have to pay.

    I just had an idea for digital retail. Basically exactly like retail in that there is import/storage of data to be accounted for, lots of different retailers selling the product; except it's online and digital. Multiple local digital retailers would store the game data on fast servers here in Aus, and sell the right to download that data to local consumers.

    I see a lot of spin and no solutions. I'll continue to import.

      Exactly what I was thinking. Except I'll continue with digital downloads.

        Imports and digital downloads for me!

        And I'll continue to import digital downloads. Regional online prices can be as bad as stores, so GreenManGaming and Gamestop FTW (for steam games).

    I was under the impression that there was also only one company that actually distributes the games to retailers in Australia, and that made everything way more expensive than it should be.

      If you're too small to have a contract with the big companies than yes, there's pretty much only one other place to get them. Apart from importing.

    They are right. We as consumers are very lucky at the moment due to the extremely high Aussie Dollar. But when that shifts back to a strong Euro or US dollar , then importing the games will be more expensive than buying them here.

    Enjoy the ride whilst it lasts , cause it wont last forever.

      Unless we suffer an extremely dramatic change in the dollar, imported game prices will at worst probably get to being on par with retail. O/seas importers costs will remain the same regardless of the strength of our dollar and they'll still be able to pass on savings to some extent.

      im sorry ive been importing since before the 360 and the PS3 came out.

      importing has always been cheaper no matter the dollar.

      and that was before you had site's like zavvi and what not selling below their respective countries RRP as it is.

      At 60cents on the dollar. a 100AUD buys 60US. while a US game is 50US. cost about 85AUD for that US game. Which would match a JB at cost price.

      yet as i said plenty of site's that sell below the 50USD RRP.

        Alinos , so $85 AU for a game from the US if the exchange rate drops. Add your freight to that as well from the US and it would cost more. Just 18 months ago the dollar was at those rates so its not like it is too far from us.

          There was a time when it became less profitable to import from the US, but I switched to european sites instead! And then there was a time when it was the same price no matter what and I bought from stores here. Not out to punish our retail industry. I just have absolutely no loyalty to it whatsoever and go with the price. And for the vast majority of my adult life that has been overseas (including having friends directly bring stuff in for me because pretty much the entire intelligentsia of Australia leave on a regular basis)

      Well it looks like the U.S is headed for a double dip recession, so its not gonna change anytime soon.

    I think the biggest issue they'll face is that it's an industry that deals exclusively in something that is easy and stupid cheap to import from overseas. Games are not 1 tonne cars and they're not huge awkward fridges and guitar amps where there are voltage concerns.

    Prices can go down to some extent but the problem remains that importing is very easy, very cheap and almost always problem free now that we have big names on that front. Plus, with the way release dates tend to work a lot of these places can get the game to you on day 1 of the Aussie release date.

    Brick and mortar stores will always be doing business with parents and such but even that market will gradually fade to a trickle as importing games becomes mainstream to those people as well. For me personally, EB is the only brick and mortar shop that concerns me because I love CE games and EB tend to get either the best CE's out of the lot or have them exclusively and that will most likely always stay that way.

    It's going to be one helluva uphill battle for these stores but it's going to take a while before it gets anywhere. Whether that's for better or worse remains to be seen.

    "We generally find that European pricing – France, Germany, Spain – is more expensive than the US. That’s where our pricing is derived from"

    Which begs the question: why are we considered part of Europe? We are on the opposite side of the world. It's harder to get further away from Europe than Australia. Why are we not considered part of the US or Asian markets? We speak English, we're not like Europe where you have a massive pile of local languages to deal with. We gain absolutely nothing except higher prices from being part of the European region. Maybe it was justified back when we were using the same TV standards, but HDTV broke that argument, and it was never relevant for portables either.

    All that being in 'Europe' gives Australia is higher prices, slow or nonexistent releases and language localisations we don't need.

      because thats the DVD/VHS region we have been in since the dawn of time.

      so it was only logical that video games take up the same archaic rules.

      I'd be saying that is because we are part of the UK Commonwealth, hence the ties to Euro release dates etc......though that would mean Canada would be too..

      all very strange

        No, it's nothing to do with that. It's as mentioned in the comment above - Europe uses the PAL broadcast standard, the US uses NTSC. Because Australia also uses PAL we get lumped in with Europe. So we're not really getting the "European" version, we're getting the PAL version which happens to be the same one Europe gets.

        But now we've got HDTVs, the whole PAL/NTSC thing is gone, so there's no longer any legitimate justification for it, just historical precedent.

      Its because of the PAL television standard which is something we have in common with UK/Europe. Of course now in the days of HDTV that really bears little relevance to the current landscape.

        Whoops - Braaains - I didn't see your comment when I posted, great minds think alike I s'pose.

    '“The exchange rate is the exchange rate,” says Ed Fong, with a shrug. “18 months ago it was a very different story. Should we peg our pricing to exchange rates? That gets messy.'

    18 months ago we were hovering at 0.90 USD. Not that big a difference.

    "We’re primarily a European company so our price structure is done via head office. We generally find that European pricing – France, Germany, Spain – is more expensive than the US. That’s where our pricing is derived from."

    That doesn't explain why UK imports are so damn cheap compared to local games.

    I wonder if there's a fixed corporate exchange rate here somewhere. I know some big businesses fix exchange rates over time for their international business arms, often at quite old rates.

    Same old argument but who will take the profit cut when things get desperate? Personally I'm happy to wait a month for a game that’s 3/4 of the price (but that’s just me). Then I can order 3 instead of one! Maybe it is time to sacrifice some of our own aussie based branches (eg Sony Australia). New Zealand did it with cars and they don’t seem to dislike an abundance cheap turbo charged imports and our domestics. Whenever we have Australian branch of something (eg Hyundai Australia) it requires resources, staff etc and for what purpose in electronics and gaming? One example is there are no manufactures of LCD tvs in Australia, if your 50” LG is needs a warranty claim at the very least the parts have to be imported from china and the like. Where’s the benefit?!

    While we're complaining about stuff, how about purely virtual prices? Why is the price per $AUD for Microsoft Points still at the same rate it was at when the service launched? Our dollar's worth nearly double what it was back then...

    My sympathies for local retailers and even many distributors, who are stuck in a bad position. But even without internal knowledge of pricing along the chain, all available evidence points to the publishers as the responsible party.

    They set their wholesale pricing based on local RRP years ago, when the exchange rate was unfavourable, and now that they're pulling in 40-50% more cash per sale they're quite happy to keep it that way.

    Sorry SCEA and Ubisoft, but as the benefiting parties, your statements lack credibility. Perhaps you can answer why UK retail prices are so much lower, when their cost of business and tax levels are at least as high as ours?

    Customers are already flocking overseas in droves, but only rebellion from retailers and local distributors will change publishers' minds. Props to GAME for mentioning a hypothetical switch to importing - I'm sure (I really hope) it's much less hypothetical in their discussions with their wholesalers.

    Consumer sovereignty is the ultimate arbiter of pricing anyway, despite the ridiculous complex relationship between distributors and stores.

    Like the article says, if people turn to cheaper overseas alternatives, the publishers and retailers have no choice but to come to some sort of compromise to lower prices.

    It's either adapt - and find a way of dropping prices - or suffer reduced profits and a terminal decline.

    “If we were to import all of our Sony products, for example, there would be no Sony presence in this country, because there’s no reason for them to exist here without distribution. If we broke the banks everyone would follow – therefore Sony wouldn’t market any of its products here."

    If the marketing increases sales of Sony products, then someone will do it. Whether it is done by an Australian division of Sony or it will be done by some foreign division. If Sony Australia is not adding any value on the distribution side (separate from the marketing and classification side), why is that business worth protecting?

    Exchange rate was different 18 months ago sure.

    but it still doesn't explain the 50cent(or less) exchange rate we currently seem to live on.

    Personally i think that our pricing should adjust to the exchange rate. At least it should adjust to the average exchange rate for the previous fiscal year(july 1st -june 30th)

    What it really comes down to, and what it always will come down to is that I, one person, can privately import for half the price a retailer, who sells hundreds or thousands of copies, can offer.

    I refuse to believe that operating costs/overheads and GST make something I can import for $40AUD incl. shipping cost $99.95. Or rather, until someone has the guts to put out solid figures, I won't believe it.

    You know what, Mr. Yardley? If you need to shrink the market, then DO IT. Because it'll shrink without you. All Sony/etc pulling out will do is drop off conventional advertising and warranty support. But the 40% drop in pricing should account for that, shouldn't it? In-store advertising works well enough, if you need to, you're capable to running tv or radio ads, and email campaigns to raise awareness, you could more effectively leverage Facebook, etc.

    So I'm not convinced that games need to cost what they do. And even if you do convince me, it's still -so much- more expensive that I won't care. Realistic prices from now on, please.

    Licensers/Publishers/Distributors/Retailers all in unison, 'It's not us making a profit. The money just disappears into the mystery Australian blackhole. Where ever could it be going!'

    Jokers all round.

    The licensers don't care as they get their money either way, same for the publishers. Distributors and retailers have to play the game the big fish give them and since they're making money right now there is no point risking what they do have by making a big fight out of it.

    Ed Fong's comment made me laugh. '... and we’ll hear what they have to say.' To that all I can say is if you haven't heard it yet you must be deaf, and as for us commenters, we're all flogging a dead horse. Just buy overseas. Sure local the retailers will suffer or even die out but they make it clear that they won't change until they are forced to. If you're feeling patriotic about not buying Australian think about all the posties you employ or invest your savings in some other home grown business.

    I'll continue to import from now and until someone figures out a way to slash prices in Australia. I would have felt sorry for Aussie retailers and distributors back in the day but then regional pricing on digital copies happened. That was the last straw for me. It's harsh but I couldn't give a stuff what happens to local businesses now. The continuing BS from the industry over the past couple of years has driven me over the edge. EVERYONE can see that something doesn't add up and yet the only thing they've decided to do was impose extra costs on digital copies.

    They need to adapt now, not later, NOW. It's one thing to start worrying about a change in the market, it's another thing entirely to start acting to address those concerns. Even if it is a publisher issue - retailers and distributors must look to push publishers, not twiddle their thumbs. Its their own livelihood at stake. Successful businesses adapt and adapt early. Businesses here are fast running out of time. In the end, it doesn't concern me or consumers in general so long as we can import games - the industry is only hurting themselves right now.

    The other part of this is digital pricing - which was not touched on but is absolutely ridiculously overpriced in this country.
    I also have no problem paying market $ rates for games...at least you know your not getting ripped off.

    This whole issue continues to piss me off, yet i have never imported a single video game.

    I think its the only way to bring retail to its knees.

    I wish I could remember the names of the speakers at Gametech so I could properly post this comment. But at the seminar I put a question to the Microsoft guy and he seemed absolutely confident that people would stick to retail for the experience of being able to ask for recommendations, opinions, etc from the clerks instore. And then one of the retailers stood up and said anecdotally the average clerks know little about what the sell - and I think this is an experience mirrored by most semi-tech savvy plus people that go into stores (not just for games) with a bit of an idea of what they want, only to find that the staff instore can't supplment their questions with any useful contributions.

    TLDR: although nice marketing spin, there's little to gain from an instore experience these days and first and second parties are still too caught up in their own PR to see any different.

      Remembered now: the retailer was Paul Yardley, as in the article. :)

        What a lot of comments here are overlooking is that the average retail video game customer is not a 21 year old male gamer. They are kids with gift vouchers, they are adults who want something for after work, they are grandparents who want card games. They don't have the time/desire/ability to do their own research and find out exactly what they'd like to play.

        Now the average video game store clerk sure as hell isn't a massive video game encyclopaedia. But we do a decent job at recommending like titles.

        - a video game store clerk

          You also have to remember that there was a time that those people or in the case of children, the parents, would shy away from services like eBay. Now you'll find those people are the majority users of such services.

          As importing games becomes more common practice for gamers so to shall it become common for other people.

    Retailers' solution to Steam and cheap digital purchases was not to adapt or become more competitive, but to extort publishers into raising their prices on the Australian versions of those platforms or not sell them to us at all.

    Likewise, the retailers' solution to importing won't be to adapt or become more competitive either, but will be the same as Gerry Harvey's proposed "solution" - make customers pay tax on imported items.

    They have no interest in competing but in just price-gouging the customers.

    The last time I bought a physical copy of a game for my pc was in 2005. Ever since then I have been 100% digital, and saved hundreds because of it.

    Nothing would please me more than to see game retail curl up and die after the shit the have put Australian gamers through for 20 years.

      Considering that retail accounts for a lot of jobs, especially even a lot of the young people that make up this site's patronage, as well as 3 years of my own working life, it's good to see you wishing so many out of employment.

      I'll continue to buy retail, even PC, so I have my own actual copy, rather than a ticket to play somebody elses data.

      Also: "Gaming in Australia is priced much higher than it is anywhere else in the world"

      Brazil isn't a part of the world?

        How many of those are in retail that specifically involves games? They're the only ones who face redundancy if things get out of hand.

        Also your point on buying retail with games is moot. The article is specifically referring to the importation of physical copies of games not digital distribution.

          Who are you talking to?

          the last part of my comment was on the article but the main part was in reply to Doraiya, who was talking about the demise of retail in favour of digital, so I wasn't talking about imports at all.

          "How many of those are in retail that specifically involves games?"

          Not only is there enough in games, but it doesn't really matter. If retail games dissolved for the sake of digital = loss of jobs. If people import and buy direct from overseas or online distributors instead of retail = loss of jobs.

          I have no problem with industry needing to wake up and change with the world as it should, I just have a problem with people calling for the downfall of others who were just doing their job, people effectively saying, "I DON'T CARE ABOUT WHAT HAPPENS TO THEM,I JUST WANT CHEAP GAMES."

            I don't have the link, but there was a report released that I'm pretty sure was linked in a Kotaku story that says Mr Harvey's job loss line was total lies. For every job lost in retail through importing, 2.5 jobs were created in the sectors that make the importing industry run. When one industry shrinks, another usually expands. Saying that the sky is falling when it's your particular industry is simple you worrying about your business.

            Direct download is another matter, but importing is doing excellent things for the industry. i work in transport and i can tell you that even despite fuel prices, business is booming and a lot more people are being employed.

              When you drive to work, do you care about the people who sell horses that your car put out of business?
              Jobs are only necessary if there is work to be done.

    Just another example of when people realise there is a better way, and start doing something about it, things will eventually change.

    I was actually thinking about the whole pricing issue after the latest 2 price jacks on Steam (FEAR 3 and Deus Ex 3) and have come up with a theory that importing to get cheaper prices might be bad for us anyway.

    Here's a thread I made on Games On Net regarding this.
    http://games.on.net/forums/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=187473

    Simply put, if we all start importing our games, publishers will see lower sales in our region and immediately attribute it to piracy. This has 2 possible consequences.

    1. We get extra intrusive DRM on our versions of games as publishers seem to think that the solution to piracy is more DRM.
    2. We get less releases (or no releases at all) in our region because publishers don't like taking risks on selling to regions that they perceive as having piracy problems (and they can afford to do this too as Australia is a small market that won't mean much in the grand scheme of things).

    The reason for this line of thinking is that importers don't report sales figures to the local publishers/distributors and retail sales trackers. For instance, if I imported a game from, say, the UK, the sale would get credited to the UK instead of Australia because publishers/distributors and retail trackers only count where the sale originated, not where the destination is.

      There are no DRM ramifications for console gamers.

      This most important part of this article is the admission that pricing is ultimately left to the consumers. As an expat here, it never ceases to amaze me just how dim Australian consumers are. I mean, our wives and girlfriends are happy to spend 150% more for shoes and jeans over US and UK pricing -- but we electronic gaming brothers should be much more aware of the overt rent seeking (thats an economic term, fellas) and price collusion going on in this country. The only way to manage this is to get organized and start boycotting. Stop buying Xbox and PS3 add-on content from the Aussie store.

      50-100% markups are just ridiculous. $90 retail for titles is ABSURD.

      That sounds like something that would be a real problem for those of us that didn't import, and no problem at all for the importers. Rather self-defeating.

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