Gerry Harvey has just announced that Harvey Norman is starting up a new website which will sell import European copies of video games at vastly reduced prices. The site is officially opening at 6pm this evening and will continue forthwith. According to Gerry himself, "if you can't beat them, join them."
"Harvey Norman is very pleased to announce, from six pm tonight, Harvey Norman will be utilising its global network, selling games direct to the consumers at fantastic global prices GST free," said Harvey Norman spokesperson Ben Mackintosh. "Consumers will be directly importing from Europe at the best prices available.
"The Australian gaming customer has been paying far too much for console games," he continued. "Retailers and suppliers have been keeping the prices far too high. We’re utilising our network to bring better prices to the consumer. We strongly recommend that you do not buy a game until you’ve seen our website. We will save you money on games.
"We stand by this as a great new feature in the Australian market and we’re going to rip up the prices of Australian market."
Some of you may have been able to get an early look at the site, which has currently been taken down, but starting for 6pm tonight, Australian consumers will be able to order games directly, paying $3.95 delivery per game. PC games are currently missing from the list, but will appear in the future.
"If you can’t beat them join them," said Gerry Harvey. "The number of retailers that are suffering at the moment is higher than it’s been in 20 years. Why should an off shore retailer be able to evade duty to evade GST and all the other costs that retailers have? These people don’t have any of these cost and at the moment neither does this new company.
"We’re not doing this with a great joy," he added. "We’ve held off but we can’t hold off any more."
Harvey expects that he will see a reduction in consumers buying games directly from Harvey Norman stores, because they're "miles cheaper" online, but sees this as a necessary step if his company is to compete.
"We’re not one of the big players in games," he said. "It’s always been a category in our store, but not as big as television or others. We’re a medium player in the games category. But now everyone that buys a game should buy it from Harvey Norman at this price."
According to Harvey Norman spokesperson Ben Mackintosh, the reaction of local publishers to the news is of secondary importance.
"We get thousands of emails and phonecalls complaining about the price of our games," he said. "If consumers demand something we have to respond."
Mark Langford who, as Managing Director of Gametraders, has imported stock of games in order to compete locally, claimed he was extremely surprised by the news.
"I'm absolutely amazed," he said. "I don't think it's good for publicity, I think most people will see it as a strange move, but I totally understand it. If you want to compete, you have to make these kinds of moves."
The Managing Director of GAME Paul Yardley stated that, to a certain extent, the GST issue was a "red herring" and claimed that "direct import isn’t new in this country." He did add, however, that GAME would be watching this peculiar experiment with interest.
Gerry Harvey believes that, if this move is successful, he fully expected that Harvey Norman Direct Import would sell more than just games.
"We got to start somewhere," he said. "But gaming is a big category and it’s a great place to start."