Today we revealed that EB Games is selling grey imported copies of Star Wars: The Old Republic in stores across Australia, but there are some unanswered questions. The Old Republic isn't your typical game, it's hardly a product you can buy, install and forget about: Australian players will require ongoing support, they'll have to deal with overseas servers, and potential issues regarding retail keys not working out of the box? How will these problems be rectified considering the fact there is no local infrastructure available in Australia?
We spoke to EB Games to get some answers.
According to EB, its stores began importing and selling Star Wars: The Old Republic because EA and Bioware hadn't yet provided an official release date for the game.
"As no official release date has been announced for Star Wars: The Old Republic in Australia," began the EB spokesperson, "EB Games has seen it in the best interest of our customers to make available imported copies of the game from today to avoid further disappointment felt by the game's avid Australian fan base."
EB believes any issues local customers that arise in Australia will be adequately dealt with. There's no need to incur huge phone bills when customers can use a variety of different online services to solve their problems.
"Should customers require assistance with any issues, there are a variety of ways to reach customer service overseas without the need to incur any cost including blogs, forums and email via Bioware’s world-class online support centre," said the spokesperson.
The Old Republic's launch, for the most part, has gone reasonably well, but there have been some issues — online queues, connection issues. The most worrying problem for Australian consumers purchasing the game early, however, is the fact that some retail boxes have keys that haven't been activated on the overseas servers. Bioware has been dealing with that issue by providing new keys over the Origin service. However, since the game hasn't been launched in this region yet, that won't work for Australians. What happens then?
We spoke to NSW Fair Trading, who informed us that, since the game is being grey imported by EB Games, any issues players have with Star Wars: The Old Republic is EB's direct responsibility. In NSW, at least, EB are legally bound to give gamers a full refund if they have any problems with the game.
"The Retailer has an obligation to fix the problem, and consumers only have to deal with the retailer as far as this is concerned," claimed the Fair Trading representative. "The retailer must offer a refund or an exchange and consumers don't have to accept the exchange."
According to NSW Fair Trading, this doesn't just apply to issues where the game's key doesn't work. If consumers are having online issues, such as lag from playing on overseas servers, the retailer still has to provide a refund if the consumer isn't satisfied.
EB, however, seems to have accepted this responsibility. EB is informing consumers who purchase Star Wars: The Old Republic that the game is an import version, and claims that any issues players have will be resolved quickly and effectively.
"EB Games prides itself on providing superior product and customer service to our loyal customers," claimed the EB rep. "While we haven’t encountered any issues surrounding retail keys, we can ensure that any problems that may arise will be resolved promptly via our customer service team.
"EB Games number one priority is our customers. We work closely with all of our partners to ensure that we can deliver a superior experience for them and will continue to do so in the future."