Have Your Say On Video Game Pricing

There is a price disparity for tech products and video games in Australia. This is something we're all aware of, but now the Federal Government is looking to take action on the issue, putting together a committee to look into these price disparities. Until July 6, the committee will be accepting submissions on the topic.

“Australians are often forced to pay more for IT hardware and software than consumers in overseas markets," said Nick Champion, Committee Chair. "The Committee’s inquiry aims to determine the extent of these IT price differences and examine the possibility of limiting their impact on Australian consumers, businesses and governments.

"[T]he Committee will look into the cost of computer hardware and software, including games, downloaded music, e-books, and professional software, to name a few. The Committee is looking forward to hearing from the companies who set these prices and the consumers and businesses that purchase their products."

Details on how to make a submission to the Committee can be found here, but we'd suggest focusing your submissions on the the inquiry's terms of reference:

“Noting the estimated value of the Internet to the Australian economy, and the importance of competitively priced IT hardware and software being made available to business, government and the community, the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Communications is asked to inquire:

(a) Whether a difference in prices exists between IT hardware and software products, including computer games and consoles, e-books and music and videos sold in Australia over the internet of in retail outlets as compared to markets in the US, UK and economics in the Asia-Pacific;

(b) Establish what those differences are;

(c) Determine why those differences exist;

(d) Establish what the impacts of these differences might be on Australian businesses, governments and households; and

(e) Determine what actions might be taken to help address any differences that operate to the disadvantage to Australian consumers.”

In the wake of GAME's voluntary administration, and JB Hi-Fi's decision to openly sell parallel imports in store, this inquiry couldn't be more timely. Local retail is in a strange state of flux, and it'll be interesting to see precisely how local publishers justify cost pricing decisions. Particularly since one of our major specialist retailers has publically struggled to stay afloat.

Interesting times.


Comments

    Details on how to make a submission to the committee can be found...

    Srsly, pointless exercise as nothing will change due to corporate pressure...hence parallel imports.

    Removing the barriers for consumers finding a better deal (aka competition) is the best and only truly effective way of lowering the price of games in Australia.

      This right here. And more succinctly stated then my usual rants.

    I know how local retail could justify the price of games and hardware or even improve sales figures. Try it with some customer service and you will be surprised how many loyal customers the business will retain.
    As it is atm I have no inclination to pay the premium for facebook browsing, disinterested and untrained (i.e. they do not know their products) sales assistants.

    Have a look at GOG.com's pricing of The Witcher 2 (one of the first new games they've had).
    Initially, offered for preorder for the same price worldwide, but the Australian price was quickly changed at publisher's demand, to be almost double the rest of the world.
    ONLY the Australian price.

      And then GOG turned off region detection to get around it, and were threatened with a lawsuit.

      They also offered a GOG.com voucher for the difference in price.

        Yeah. GOG were the good guys in that sorry affair. F*** Namco-Bandai. Oh well, at least I managed to grab it before they put the geo-IP in...

      Steam does this all the time. It's well worth pointing out whenever people argue about costs of distribution and shipping in Australia as an excuse for higher prices here.

      The relationship between publisher and distributor and country market is an interesting one.

      Take Deus Ex: Human Revolution. That was the standard $40 more expensive in Australia than the US. Both at retail and over Steam. A handful of other AAA games release in adjacent months were also released on Steam, but weren't charged the extra $40. So it must be the publisher, not the distributor, right?

      Not necessarily. That $40 Australia mark-up for Deus Ex was NOT applied to sales made via Impulse. (It's former Stardock - a similar digital distribution system to Steam, but with fewer social toys.) Interestingly, the authorization key provided by Impulse is redeemable on Steam.

      Publishers must set their prices based on how they think the distributor will perform in that market?

    I have no real problem with the price of games, so long as they are south of a hundred dollars. I have a big problem with digital games being marked up. I don't care if Traditional stores cant compete and will close with those prices, i'm not paying the same for something I cant hold in my hot sweaty hands.

    Australian prices are disgusting. Whether it's in stores or via online services, even XBL Arcade. Haven't bought locally in ages. If it causes the stores to stop stocking or just plain collapse I couldn't care less. I'm sick of the "Australia Tax" on so many different things. It's already an expensive enough country to live in without being slugged massive markups on tech items.

      I agree. There's no way I'll pay more money in an Australian store when I can buy for a lot cheaper overseas.

        I'm willing to accept a small markup for local business and for the convenience of buying a physical object and having it my hands straight away rather than days / weeks time. however when the markups are between 2-10x what people in other countries pay I stop caring instantly about my money going offshore.

    The committee will conclude that Australians are being ripped off. The media will report. The Publishers will make excuses or hide. Some politician may cash on my by saying "Shame!" Nothing will change.

    Use a US IP on Steam. Note prices.
    Turn off the US IP proxy on Steam. Note prices.

    Same with most stores out there. The world knows that Australians are willing to pay more for everything, so they are happy to oblige.

      http://www.steamprices.com/au/topripoffs

    Get rid of tax for starters

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