Have Your Say On Video Game Prices

Earlier this year, Senator Conroy announced there would be an inquiry into the price of IT-related products and software, an inquiry that explicitly wanted to discuss the price of video games. That inquiry is currently looking for submissions on the topic, and as one of the most hotly discussed topics on Kotaku, I assumed that there would have been hundreds of submissions already. But now, with a couple of weeks until the submission deadline, only 31 submissions have been made.

The terms of reference for submissions are as follows.

The Committee will inquire into and report on:

(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 or in retail outlets as compared to markets in the US, UK and economies 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

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

To be perfectly fair, the government website hardly makes it easy to send submissions -- it took me a short while to find out precisely how and where to send them. Head here for more information on the inquiry itself, and you can email submission directly to this address. It's probably worthwhile revisiting the terms of the inquiry before sending. There are also some helpful guidelines on the best way to present your submission here.

We all know there is an issue with games pricing in this country, as well as the pricing of IT goods in general. This is as good a chance as any to make a difference.


    Thanks Mark! I didn't even realise this enquiry had been opened. I thought it was still in the proposal stages.

    I'm not quite sure why they are after submissions on the topic. Surely they can find the information they need by looking at overseas prices and comparing them? This isn't the same situation as the R18+ thing where they wanted people to support or oppose the idea. This is an inquiry on pricing differences between Australia and overseas countries. Pretty black and white, and will likely require them to obtain information that's not readily available to the public.

    Surely what the public says on the matter will have little impact on the overall inquiry.

      Could also be looking into whether or not people are aware of the price difference. If a large majority of the public isn't aware, it could impact the new guidelines, if enacted, resulting in higher prices than if the public is aware. Kind of a shitty assumption of me to make, but that's the only reason I can think of that isn't to look like they are doing something

        That would indeed be shitty if that's what it's about...ie Public's not aware so we'll continue letting retailers get away with higher prices than they should be charging.

        Obviously though the government is already aware that there is a price discrepancy or they wouldn't be doing this inquiry in the first place. So unless it's for the reason you suggest, which would be a pretty shitty reason, I can't see the point of asking for public submissions on the topic. I don't think anybody in their right mind, when asked the question "Do you want to pay less for your consumer electronics?" would say "Nah, I like paying inflated prices thanks."

        I believe that is called the "what they don't know won't hurt them" philosophy.

      On top of Zac's reply, they are also seeking obscure IT related goods and software that not all the general public has access too. EG. Specific business software (Using Adobe photoshop is a bad one as public knows about this). But Orcale databases, etc etc

    I can only assume the apathy about responding is that the enquiry is too late. Most of us are just simply ordering from overseas now or circumventing steams region locking

    Apathetic core consumers - see no need to send in submissions

    Blissfully ignorant parents who continually shell out between $70-$100 per G-rated title - don't know they can send in submissions

    This could have been advertised better by Mr Conroy's department.

    As someone who is obsessed with politics and video games, I'd love for the government to take this into consideration, however I get the feeling they're not really that interested. I worked in a political office and when the politician or chief of staff or whomever needs information like this they have people hired to research these things.

    Having a look at the terms of references D is quite a difficult thing to determine. You have to take into account so many things! Comparing Australia to just the UK and US you have to find accurate sources explaining what taxes apply (cos my understanding is that each of those have their own taxes and I believe the UK has a similar tax to GST but it's something like 22%), you have to take into account an increase due to translations or whether that is subsidised or if that doesn't apply at all, import costs; where are all of Australia's games and consoles imported from? How many are imported? How much does it cost to import these games? I would assume there is a huge difference here because the UK and US have such a larger population they can buy a much larger amount of games and I believe there is some parallel there between buying larger orders and being able to subsidise, 'loss lead' and sell at lower and more discounted prices.

    A quick google search can answer most of these references, but D needs extensive research, that's why there are only 31 submissions. The inquiry appears to be set up to fail, not many people in this country can answer those questions I listed and the few who probably can probably don't have the time to do this. Here's hoping the 31 submissions are accurate and can make a difference. The gaming industry alone is worth billions and more and more people are buying their electronics from overseas. It's dissapointing cos it's bad for the economy and for every Aussie in the game industry from retailer to developer. However, as long as products cost ridiculously more here than overseas I don't see why people shouldn't keep buying their games from overseas.

    I think one of the biggest misconceptions here is that retailers have THAT MUCH of a say in their pricing. It seems like every second person just blames retailers and calls it a day, it's just not the case. EB for example, while pretty reprehensible in most of their trading practices, doesn't have that much of a mark up on most of their brand new games. When I worked there as an ASM not many months ago, EB was charged $93 from a particular publisher per single new release game that they sold at $109.95. (it went down to $99.95 by the end of the week) This was mostly to ensure access to Collector's Editions and such. At launch, JB Hi Fi sold this particular game for $89, below cost price and the amount of people we had verbally assaulting us because we were ripping them off was ridiculous. I understand people want lower prices and I mostly import as well but sometimes it just isn't as simple as "retailers are ripping us off because they can." Not to mention that JB Hi Fi can actually afford to sell their games below cost price (just the way you want it) whereas specialty stores like EB, Game and Gametraders just don't have that luxury.

    should we just put our observations and ideas for addressing the problem for each point and email it to them? do we really have to sign (signature scan?) as well?
    Just want to get it right.
    If this leads to government regulations to stop companies ripping us off then I'm all for it. Companies seem too stupid to realise they would make more money, selling more games at lower prices.
    We're more likely to buy new games at $50-$60 than $80.

    As a personal rule I do my best to never pay more than $60 including postage, online or otherwise. There have been some exceptions where there has been a game I desperately want but has been sold out everywhere, so I shelled out a bit too much cash rather than waiting.

    It's too little too late for me. I don't care if prices change at this point, it's more convenient to buy online via overseas sites. I normally use express post or a courier so I don't have to wait. The high prices in the past as well as censored games has completely put me off buying locally. I'll just sit back and hopefully watch the idiots be idiots and laugh as the local industry goes under. Not my problem anymore.

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