Bethesda Remove The ‘Australian Tax’ From Skyrim On Steam — By Accident Or By Design?

Bethesda Remove The ‘Australian Tax’ From Skyrim On Steam — By Accident Or By Design?

To celebrate QuakeCon, which is currently taking place in Dallas, Bethesda is putting together a sale on almost all of its titles, releasing new deals each day – but looking at the bigger picture, it seems as though Bethesda, whether by mistake or by design, has removed its controversial ‘Australian Tax’ on games sold over Steam.

Skyrim, for example, is being sold with a 50% reduction. But instead of being discounted from its former price $89.99 — the increased price for the Aussie market — 50% has been removed from the US price of $59.99. Meaning that Skyrim is currently available for just $29.99.

The very same thing has occurred with Bethesda’s other major release of 2011, RAGE. The extra dollars we used to pay for that game have also been removed, meaning that Australians, who previously paid more for Bethesda’s titles, are now paying the same as the rest of the world.

This is a good thing — but why? At this stage we’re not precisely sure.

The Australian IT Pricing inquiry was in full flow this week and plenty of attention is clearly being paid — both in government and the mainstream media — to precisely how much more we’re paying for digital goods compared to the US. It is possible that this price drop is in response to that.

Ed Husic, MP for Chifley, has been perhaps the most vocal Member of Parliament on this issue. If this is an official move to reduce prices on the part of Bethesda, he approves.

“They should get a pat on the back,” he said, speaking to Kotaku. “There’s no justifiable excuse for the difference in price for video games. If this is a permanent move then I welcome it.”

But when we got in contact with Bethesda’s local representatives, they claimed that the price drop is simply part of the sale itself. That would also make sense, but the 50% reduction is a reduction of the US price, not the old Australian price.

Bethesda’s local Australian prices are actually decided overseas – and it’s unclear at this point precisely how big an impact the IT Pricing Inquiry is having outside of Australia. It is possible these new prices are simply a mistake, a mistake that may be ‘rectified’ in the future. Bethesda’s local reps are currently looking into it further, but for now have stated it’s simply part of the QuakeCon sale.

Time will tell — either Bethesda will leave the local Skyrim price as is, or quickly adjust it to 50% off the old price of $89.99. It’s difficult to say. If Bethesda had made a conscious decision to remove the ‘Australian Tax’ from local prices, you might expect a bigger song and dance regarding the whole situation, as part of some PR exercise, but we’ve heard nothing.

Regardless of the outcome, there are still multiple publishers applying artificial price increases on digital software sold on Steam. Ed Husic told us he was looking for the gaming community to really mobilise behind this issue, and make a difference.

“The gaming community flexed some real muscle in pushing for changes to game classifications, especially via Twitter and the #R18AU hashtag,” he said.

“I hope they can throw that weight behind this campaign for fairer pricing too — because the gaming community here is being taken advantage of in a really bad way.”


      • I know I’m probably a douche for this but I never buy anything off steam unless it’s on sale. Maybe it’s because I’m not that big a PC gamer and buy most of my new games for the 360 – I only started seriously using steam a couple of years ago so all my purchases have happened during either:

        1) the 2011 summer sale;
        2) the 2011 holiday sale; or,
        3) the 2012 summer sale

        Two exceptions: I bought last year’s Quakecon pack (every id/Bethesda game ever for $70 AUD, which means the only id/Bethesda games I don’t have right now are Rage and Skyrim), and The Dig, which is the first game I bought on steam, when it first became available, because it’s awesome.

        That post was a lot longer than I intended it to be, but yeah. I don’t game enough on my PC (and my PC is too crappy) to justify me buying anything at full price.

        • You are not a douche for saving money… just wise. Remember a fool and his money are soon parted 😉 Steam sales are THE time to shop. The last physical game I bought was Deus Ex: HR. I wanted the extra missions, so I bought the local collector’s edition. The import version was threatened to be region locked. It cost me around $80AU, and it’s a Steamworks game. A week later the DLC is selling for $10… and a few months later the game is selling for less than that.

          I’ve learnt my lesson… wait until the sales. Always wait. By the time you get the game it’s cheaper, patched, has bundled DLC and you save a ton!

          • ^This x 1000000. I too learnt my lesson. I now save up for the Steam sales, splurge like crazy, then have games to hold me over six months til the next sale. I’ve spent 200 dollars this time and have….. I have no idea how many games? Too many to count… I doubt I’ll finish them in the next 2 years.

          • I paid $140 for the Deus Ex Collector’s Edition from the UK and regret nothing, in my opinion the best game of this gen, I’m quite happy to pay full release price for good games, only regret it if the game is a let down. Gotta support dem developers

    • Err…a little ironic that this should come out the DAY that Dawnguard releases @ AUD$24.99?
      If that isn’t a scummy example of the Australia Tax hard at work, I don’t know what is…

      FYI, it’s $19.99 for the Americans, and GBP14.00 (which equates to ~AUD$20.70).

  • I don’t know if it was a mistake or by design, but I bit it this morning.

    /waits for a GOTY edition release tomorrow

    • Same. At these prices for the expansions, Im just gonna sit and wait for the GOTY edition, then get it again. 25 for Dawnguard, just seems…. pricey.

      • You have to remember that Bethesdat expansion packs are generally the size of entire games. Shivering Isles was well worth its high price point.

          • I wouldn’t really use mb size as a comparison, the full install of Skyrim is only 3.8gb iirc

        • Really? Because their last few haven’t been. I could give a crap if they’re that big. Look at the inconsistent pricing.
          1. It’s the equivelant of 20 dollars everywhere else.
          2. It’s 25% higher than everywhere else.
          3. Our dollar is at parity if not higher than the USA.
          4. It’s digitally distributed.

          Sorry man but no, 25 dollars is not worth it. Not at all. You’re being screwed, stop reaching back and supplying the lube.

          • I don’t see how an extra five dollars is being screwed. Sure, it’s not right, but it’s not equivalent to being extorted.

            It’s all up to your personal sense of value. I knew I’d get my money’s worth out of Dawnguard because of the additions and the new modding assets that come with it, make up your own mind if you disagree.

          • Because your money is worth more than everywhere else its being sold more or less… theyre paying less…. its distributed digitally therefore no packaging costs etc….. how can you not see that? I mean I get you love Bethesda, I loved Fallout 3 and New Vegas (hated the NV dlc), but this is overpriced as buggery. It’s nowhere near the size of shivering isles btw from all reports.

            Seriously, you’re the kinda guy they like to exploit. I’ll just wait til its either on sale cheap as hell on Steam or for the eventual GOTY edition where its cheaper again.

          • Toasty Fresh your the exact kind of douche that lets these companies screw Australians over.

          • It’s the people that keep on paying the Australia tax that are the reason the Australia tax still exists. Money talks, and these people are saying it’s fine to charge us more money than they charge citizens of other countries.

            I haven’t bought a single full priced (Aus rrp) game in at least 2 years now. If everyone did the same then the industry would have no choice but to adapt and then I could go back to shopping at local shops!

  • I’d say there are some mistakes with the pricing of Bethesda titles on Steam at present. I hope that they have fixed the ‘Australia Tax’ but one look at the price for Dawnguard and you know there are still issues. Dawnguard is $19.99 on Steam in the US but it’s $24.99 over here. I’d say they have either messed up the local pricing for the sale, or they have just finally reduced the normal cost of Skyrim and Rage to $59.99 over here.

    • This is my guess. They’ve padded the price during the launch period, now they look like good guys for making it what it should have been all along. The fact that Dawnguard is still expensive is further evidence that it’s not actually a change in their behaviour.

    • Indeed. Any pang to get Dawnguard vanished when I saw the Australia Tax was in effect. I will wait for a sale.

  • Doubt they’d make a big song and dance about it. ‘Look, we’ve finally decided to stop fucking you over, aren’t we great!!!’ *trumpets* In all probability they’ve either tried to sneak this out with a slight ‘ahem’, or it’s an accident like you say. Anyone tried buying it and got to the checkout, only to find the ‘true’ inflated Aussie price on there?

    • Appears to be a legit $29.99 purchase. I don’t know whether to hit ‘Purchase” or just wait for the GOTY version though.

  • Im one of many who only paid the USA price way back on release . It’s not that difficult if you shop around . It sucks but its not the end of the world

  • Im one of many who only paid the USA price way back on release . It’s not that difficult if you shop around . It sucks but its not the end of the world

  • It was $60 yesterday actually. I assumed the “error” or whatever it is was introduced when they took the sale price off after the big Steam sale.

    • Yeah it was, as soon as the steam sale ended it was down to $60 standard. I thought it was a cockup then but its been too long for it to be anything but intentional now I think

  • I seriously don’t know why Australian gamers just wouldn’t get someone in the US to gift them Steam games. Too easy. I plan on doing the same to get Dark Souls, screw the 75% markup for Australia.

  • I’m pretty sure it’s an accident, seeing that the Quakecon pack itself is $35 more to buy here than it is to buy in the USA. Australia tax is still in full effect.

  • Thank you for informing us about our pricing mistakes for the Australian region, we will rectify the issue and increase the prices back to the proper overpriced levels. – Bethesda*

    *may not actually be a quote from Bethesda

  • They’ve been fucking us relentlessly for years. Perhaps they just finally got tired and decided to stop for a bit, maybe pop a Viagra or step outside for a cigarette, then come back refreshed and start sticking it to us again.

    • Well I just purchased it. Maybe they will see that reasonable pricing equals higher sales and profits. Or maybe not.

      • Or they are afraid of Government intervention in said shady practice. Legislation to whip the capitalists into some sort of ethical order.

  • I’ve been noticing the Australia tax disappearing from a bunch of games lately. Darksiders II is the same price for instance. But then I’ve also noticed games getting them added, like Dark Souls and Prototype 2 (they took it off day one, then put it back on day two).

  • hmm and in other news Steam have region locked Dishonored – it’s on the website in the Top Sellers list with no pricing and when you click on it you get: “This item is currently unavailable in your region” It’s not banned it got MA15+ …Publisher locking again – bet it’s going to have the Aus Tax too…

  • The “full price” was $59.95 for a few days after the summer sale at least so I think you missed something there… Oz tax was removed deliberately days ago.

  • I think they dropped the price about a week or more ago actually. So it definitely doesn’t seem to be from the sale on now. Good on them, though they don’t exactly deserve a round of applause. They only dropped the price to what it should’ve been all along.

  • They screw up with the announcement and now they want me to $25? that’s nearly the price of the game on sale. I’m going to wait until the price drops. No way I’m giving Bethesda for a piece of DLC.

  • People are failing to remember that this is more an expansion pack than just a single level scenario DLC. Think Shivering Isles, not Knights of the Nine.

  • Don’t tax me bro!

    Seriously, we should pay the exact amount Americans do for video games (relative to how well our dollar is doing of course). But paying fucking double for standard AAA games is fucking stupid.

  • Probably a bug. There have been times before when shortly after release or during sales things take on a universal price.

    I hope it’s not a bug though.

  • It’s hard to be ripped off when you set a $5 limit for steam purchases heh. Skyrim will end up there eventually.

    • Good on you for sticking to it. I know I have trouble just sticking with the “only on sale” mantra.

  • Looks like they’ve ‘fixed’ their error – now showing -25% instead of -50%, making it around $44. Booooooo!

  • As a consumer group, we did these overseas games companies a MASSIVE favour by pushing for an R18+ classification, the least they can do is reward us for opening up a new market by offering us equality in games prices.

  • Over the past 2 days I have almost bought 2 games, but upon checking steamprices I have seen we are being charge a significantly higher percentage than the US so I didn’t buy them.

    And over the past month I have not bought around 6 titles, so all I can say it, thanks for saving me money companies that like to profiteer off certain countries, hopefully enough people refuse to buy when they do this that it doesn’t make the extra profit they get off people who do buy it worthwhile.

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