Why Do We Care Less About Game Pricing?

Why Do We Care Less About Game Pricing?

There was a strong sense of injustice, but it never really affected us. Not really. We played the games we wanted to play. Somehow. And if we couldn’t? Well, outside of a few exceptions those games were hardly worth our time — they existed as morbid curiosities at best and we moved on as a collective. In reality gamers could have lived without an R18+ rating for video games, but that didn’t matter. The situation was wrong and we all knew it. As a group we mobilised, with verve, and we made a real difference, on an issue that, if we’re being perfectly honest, had little-to-no impact on our day to day lives as gamers.

Yet on the contentious issue of video game pricing, an issue that makes a genuine difference to our financial bottom line, we remain largely silent. I wonder why that is?

Here’s some perspective: during the public consultation period, 48,437 submissions were received on the issue of an adult rating for video games. That’s an Australian record. The issue of tech pricing in Australia? Well, despite the fact that that Minister Conroy explicitly asked for video game pricing to be given priority in the terms of reference, the inquiry into IT Pricing received a paltry 88 submissions. That’s 88 submissions.

That’s 0.18%. Not even close to being a dent. Not even a scratch. But why? Do people have no interest in the pricing of video games? Does the broader gaming audience care more about a classification issue, one that doesn’t necessarily affect their gaming, than they do about the cost of the video games that are purchased every single day? This is something that has a real tangible impact. Why ignore it?

Maybe ‘ignore’ is the wrong word, really we’ve just become sedated on the issue of game pricing in Australia. We care less. Part of the problem is that most gamers — particularly the strong voices that typically dominate in this type of discourse — have found their solution, and that solution is to either import games at a much lower price, or illegally download them.

It’s the convenient solution that the R18+ issue never had, because the injustice in that case was a ‘slight’, it was a series of statements we could rally against: video games are not for adults, they’re for children. Or: video games are more harmful than other types of media. It felt like discrimination and that mobilised us. Our only solution was to shout back. With video game pricing the solution is far more obvious — take your business elsewhere and be done with it.

Why Do We Care Less About Game Pricing?

And taking your business elsewhere works as both solution and silent protest; maybe that’s part of the problem. Charge me more, and I’ll damage your bottom line. Dispute over. No need to shout about it, no need to make a political noise on an issue that isn’t necessarily political. Let the market correct itself. It’ll work eventually.

But in the short term, less savvy consumers are left to bear the brunt of it and since they shop and spend in much larger numbers than you or I, you might be waiting a fair amount of time for that correction.

———- Australian pricing isn’t an issue we own as gamers — and perhaps that’s another facet of the same problem. As a group we’re not being attacked, not verbally at least. Our intelligence isn’t being insulted, we’re simply being asked to pay more than gamers in Europe and the US and maybe that doesn’t feel like something we should be getting all that angry about.

The R18+ issue was essentially a niche issue, and that’s arguably why we made so much noise about it. Perhaps that’s why we cared: because it was an issue that belonged to us specifically as gamers. As bad as game prices can be, and as big an injustice as it is, it’s not exclusive to us as a sub-culture — people pay exponentially more for Adobe products, for example. There’s a diffused responsibility regarding this whole issue, a whiff of the ‘can’t someone else do it?’ With R18+ if we didn’t take responsibility, nothing would have changed. With this issue? Maybe there’s a feeling that others will do the heavy lifting for us.

But really, we’re the ones who should be driving the change. We’re the ones with experience with these kind of issues. We’re the ones who have made a difference in the past, and we can again.

I don’t know — maybe we just need an antagonist. Maybe the video game pricing issue just needs its Michael Atkinson — an outspoken publisher stroking his cat like Doctor Claw from Inspector Gadget, routinely informing us why we should be paying more in an inexplicably bassy timbre. But most publishers locally have been silent, because it pays to be silent. Because it’s safe to be silent. Because we don’t shout back when they remain silent.

We should make a noise anyway. Because this issue needs our noise. There are people like Ed Husic out there asking for gamers to help with this important issue, and I don’t think we’ve really done enough. We found our own solutions, sat on this issue, and mumbled a little on when prodded. That’s it.

I’d like to think we can do more. Yes, game pricing is a complicated issue, and yes there are reasons why we pay more, but that doesn’t mean our voice doesn’t carry weight. Because it does, and we should use it.


    • Similarly, AU games pricing is an issue I’ve been able to work around by buying from ozgameshop primarily. Hence I feel like I’m getting games at a good price and it isn’t worth the effort of me making a submission. Now in retrospect I wish I didn’t because the inquiry may well get the worng idea 🙁

    • It’s a conmercial issue, and nothing is overpriced, people pay what the market will bear. If people don’t want to do the research to get it cheap, or they’re too imparient to wait a week for an import to show up, that’s fine. In business you vote with.your wallet, and you shouldn’t feel bad for multi million dollar enteprises who choose not to compete on price.

      What the retailers need to do is to tell the au publishing distrobutors to go fuck themselves and grey import themselves. The local distributors would get the message pretty quick then.

      • My experience working in the games industry – some of the larger retailers were making more of a profit per unit than the distributor on a large proportion of titles. I’m not by any means saying the distributors aren’t the problem here, I just think people need to keep in mind that the retailers also play a large part in contributing to the prices we see in Australia.

    • The funny thing about this article is it quotes the number of submissions about R18+, but what it doesn’t do is point out that like 95% or more of those came from the likes of EB Games (and other retailers who had slips in the store).

      So there was no real effort on the part of people making submissions, just put your details on the form, write a little blurb and the retailer took care of the rest….EB Games is hardly going to get in on the pricing issue though are they…? ; D

      • Probably should mention that the mark up on gaming in some retailers is far higher than their other products also. Just to put a bit more context into my argument after seeing some of the points below lauding to the higher rent for retail space in AU etc.

      • That comment by bdc pretty much sums up why there was only 88 submissions. I didn’t know they were taking submissions about the pricing inquiry. They didn’t get the word out and we now might be screwed because of it!

  • The people who care enough to be the type to write in are also the people who import and/or download?

    • This exactly. The people for whom video game pricing is an issue are the people who look elsewhere for for lower prices, and find them, and thus it is no longer an issue for them.

      I don’t really care how much Australian stores sell games for, I just won’t buy from them if I can buy cheaper elsewhere. They say money talks.

      • That is pretty greedy and selfish to be honest. If the price difference was say $40 for the import or $40-$50 local it’s pretty retarded to try to keep some of wealth in your own country. Anything above a 25% percent mark up I can get behind. However if it’s under 25% and the consumer is still preparded to sacrifise both Australian retail and local region releases that is a terrible sign of greed. Also supports the whole idea that a large ammount of consumers would pirate products regardless of if the product is well priced, because they spend nothing and to hell with a sustainable economic system. If Australian games were under 25% price difference in store or even better under 10% everytime there would be little excuse for importing. Online game distribution however has no wiggleroom with price and should be the same price everywhere bar certain tax’s which would need to be proven to be price increase and consistant with all online products.

        • ‘cept that is the case look a borderlands 2 right now ozgameshop are offering round $50, retailers like EB, JB have there prices at $80+, pretty sure, if i did my maths right, that it over 25% also additionally ozgameshop has free shipping
          the cd key alone can be found even cheaper gmg with the coupon brings it down to round $36, though with our internet structure right now downloading 10gb+ games are a pain (yes i am changing my isp soon)

      • In all honesty I think part of the problem is that older gamers – (and thus younger gamers) have ALWAYS paid more in Australia. Those mastertronic games and british computer games mags with 1.99 and 99p always translated into ten to thirty dollars here. It has been the status quo for thirty odd years. With the R18+ debate we can see others playing games that we can not. With this we can not see the foreigners opening their wallets and paying less. We just smile and pay away.

  • I see where you are going here, but the fact is, While video game classifications is more of a community thing, something that can be changed by the public and government. Pricing is a private enterprise issue. One that plagues not only the video game or techs industry, but something that has his every import business ….ever.

    Add to this fact that we genuinely do have a way around pricing that isnt labled as “illegal” and no threat of customs withholding our items. Business has boomed with the rise of grey imports, to the point that many major retail chains are going down the path of offering international imports. I have seen the same not just in games but even in the camera industry, and of all things the carpet industry. Going outside the normal supply chains may require a little extra effort, but the cost benefit for an individual or retailer is quite big, and above all, it is 100% legal.

    What my concern is will be embargos. Something similar to what we have seen from companies like games workshop, there are loop holes that make it very difficult for a company to sell internationally.
    Long and short is you are right, we need to do more, and we need to be aware that not only is there is a real threat that our easy way’s of side stepping the “australian tax” may one day be taken away, but it is in some ways damaging pockets of our local economy that we may not miss until its gone.

    • “What my concern is will be embargos. Something similar to what we have seen from companies like games workshop”. Mine too. I play 40k with the models as well as computer games so most people I know (myself included) have basically avoided buying their products altogether due to the obscene prices.

      Any company that embargos Australia is going to suffer from the sudden drop of Aussie customers.

      • Well the way embargos work is by stopping supply to any company thats not based/licensed to sell into a country who does so. The point is to limit certain high margin countries options so that bricks and mortar retailers are your only option. I doubt this will ever happen in the case of games as the publishers them selves dont have this sorts of stores the way that Games Workshop does. However i can see other companies doing it

  • The thing is, this issue will eventually solve itself. More and more people will simply import games at a cheaper rate, and retailers will either have to adapt (GameTrader’s grey import) or die (R.I.P GAME). Personally I hope that they die off completely. Game retailers often hire obnoxious employees, have horrible policies (TRADE IN TWENTY GAMES AND GET A DOLLAR OFF!) and always try to shell useless shit on you (DO YOU WANT DISK PROTECTION FOR ONLY TEN DOLLARS?). For those of you quick to complain that this will be bad because it will cost ‘aussie jobs,’ you couldn’t be more wrong. More imports means more jobs for shipping companies, the post office, delivery drivers ECT. If they don’t like it well they shouldn’t have been gouging us in the first place.

    • A while back I interviewed a guy who was talking about the massive gains in Australian jobs from parallel importing. He actually argued more jobs would be created than lost.

      • I’m not saying working in these game shops is that good a job anyway, but I can’t see the same silver lining. In my time working retail I met plenty of people who would never be happy or capable with working in a warehouse, post office, driving trucks or trying to run an online shop. The jobs lost won’t just magically transfer into the jobs created.

    • This (re job creation) has been an argument i have had for a while. Still i’d be sad if the only people left selling games was mass merchants like harvey norman and kmart . As much as you have pointed out all the poison in the games retail sector, there are some charms to them that i would miss if they weren’t there.

  • I think with gaming yes prices are shit but the problem is a lot bigger elsewhere. Corporate software is where most of the ridiculous level of shit is being pulled. MSDN subscriptions being a fine example, with Adobe a close 2nd.

    Also Mark articles like this do not help garner an army of people to fight for something


    Even when it seemed hopeless beyond belief we had a political party come out of no where (croydon4gamers) and every post was ‘do your best to get this done, no matter how hard it seems’

    Your sister site writes, nothing will change so dont do shit about it.


  • Like Ash said, I haven’t bought a game in Australia for quite a while now. Just not worthwhile.
    So that’s a simple workaround. However the lack of R18 made buying the games illegal. Not really an easy workaround for that. Hence a bigger issue.

  • 1) i buy out f bargain bins etc.
    2) If you would like us to do something about it (I would love to cos I know how unfair the prises are and its the reason I buy from bargain bins) then send us a link or something to where to file or whatever 😉

  • That’s 0.18%. Not even close to being a dent. Not even a scratch. But why? Do people have no interest in the pricing of video games?

    Because the bulk of the signatures on that huge R18+ petition were gathered by people operating in multiple franchises of a major games retailer. Said retailer would hardly gather signatures for a petition saying that games retailers are ripping off consumers with crazy pricing.

  • Importing games, pre-owned or piracy are the work arounds people use to avoid paying the high prices charged in Australia for games. I have been buying games from ozgameshop and other sites for years.

    However recently I have seen a difference in pricing in Australia with some retailers dropping upcoming releases down to under A$70. As a result for the first time in about 3 years I have preordered a game from a local retailer for $69. Online I could probably buy that same game for A$60 but it will be nice to get a game on its day of release for a change instead of 2-3 weeks later in the post.

    I think local retailers are trying to win back gamers who have moved to online purchasing with lower prices. If they are consistent with the lower prices I will probably move back to buying games locally.

    • I think this is another great point (lots of great posts here!)

      I was genuinely surprised with some of the prices when I last went to Westies. When we see incremental change, that might actually help placate us all a bit.

  • The R18+ issue was absolutely different because, as you rightfully said, it was an issue of adults being told what adults could view and buy by self-righteous, sanctimonious folk lying about gaming, its culture, its content, and its effect on society. Groups quoting non-existent studies suggesting games made kids violent and concocting fanciful slippery-slope or “open the flood-gate” fallacies: “if you introduce R18+ we’ll have all type of games with rape, pro-suicide, kiddie-porn themes”.

    Pricing annoys us, but it is easily remedied by importing.

    • But the answer to the R18+ issue was also importing. Lots of people imported the uncut versions of GTA etc from New Zealand or the UK or wherever in order to get the “real” game instead of the censored version sold locally.

      Yes, technically you run the risk of having it seized by customs if they actually opened your parcel and actually cared enough that it was an uncut version of a game. But how many of us actually had our imported R rated games seized? I don’t actually have a number, but I’m guessing it’s pretty low.

  • One big part of the problem is that Australian retailers have some of the highest markup expectations in the western world. The markup they expect on items before they even take them on is just ridiculous, 300% in some cases.

    That, needs to stop.

    • We have one of the highest retail rents in the world, often over double the rates other first world retailers pay. This plays a major part in retailer mark-ups. There is no simple short term solution for that.

  • Also Mark, I think youd make a great champion for this topic. You did a great job of covering R18+ we could start a grass roots movement right here on KOT_au. Other Aus based sites can pick up the the hype and who knows. I just dont think we have had enough runs at this topic. I mean, the R18+ movement took a LONG time to get enough momentum.

  • I think another point is that basically Australia is a free market society and we can’t impose restrictions politically. Like if they legislated around the pricing it would probably be a constitutional fight the government wouldn’t win. Even if the legislation was legal i imagine that the companies would just pull out of Australia, well at least that portion of their business.

    As always the market corrects itself. Key point with R18 was it was the politicians AND ONLY the politicians who could get this done. We had a clear place to go and protest, with this its a whole different ball game. You really need to protest to every company and you can do that by importing and killing their local bottom line, or emailing etc but there is no central point.

    The other side has a central point. Its called the BSAA. Maybe its time for a central point on the other side of the argument, especially if for some reason the ACCC isn’t going to get involved.

  • Interesting point on Michael Atkinson and having someone to rally against – it really does feel like having a face, a clear image of the opposition sort of spurs us into action.

    If I were to give an excuse as to why I didn’t make a submission, it would be either that I don’t buy enough games to be concerned about the dent in my wallet (the last full priced retail game I bought was Max Payne 3 back in May), or that prices in some places seem to be going down a bit. Might just be me, but I’m perfectly content with paying $70 for a new release at JBHi-Fi. Would I like that to be cheaper? Absolutely. But I’m not paying $100 for every game anymore and I’m pretty happy about that. Granted, that doesn’t cover digital distribution prices…

  • Got to love that after the mention of adobe products being more expensive as an example while im typing this comment there is an adobe advert on the right of this box.

  • The fact is, there is basically nothing legislatively the Government can do. Most of these companies aren’t subject to Australian law. Submitting was quite pointless. I do think the Government should start treating import exclusivity as a monopoly and prosecute accordingly.

    • Im not sure there is nothing they can do. The ACCC enquiry in to apple charging Australia more on the app store even after our dollar hit parity with the USD seems to have made a difference, It really didnt take long for Apple to pull the prices back in line with international rates.

      Obviously this is a different ball game to importing, but it shows a decent enquiry to the provider can make change…some things just take a little more heat to have effect.

  • When something is everyone’s problem, nobody in particular feels compelled to act. Because of it’s everyone’s problem then it is someone else’s problem.

    I am just a consumer. I buy from whoever offers me the right product for the best price. If local stores can’t offer that, it’s their problem to solve if they want my money.

    • “I am just a consumer. I buy from whoever offers me the right product for the best price. If local stores can’t offer that, it’s their problem to solve if they want my money.”


  • It still shocks me to see the prices in Australia – for instance I got Guildwars 2 pre order from the Guildwars 2 website for $55 USD at local Australian retailer it was marked as a special pre order (get on the 28) for $88…. Sure I had to download but I never reach my limit so win win as far as I am concerned. Oh and I got to start playing last weekend…
    That may well be the future buy direct and the physical stores will simply fade away… I have no opinion of if that is good or bad but I do enjoy competition in the marketplace and I think we get that with options.
    Mark the reason why I didn’t comment is that I just don’t have all the answers and a high enough degree of knowledge on the topic. 18+ debate went on for months I understood from experts like yourself the facts and what is really meant for me as an adult gamer, where is the champion for pricing where is the debate on sites like Kotaku and others for me to be able to feel comfortable writing a submission… Sure I could have been number 89 but it would have read badly and probably been factually incorrect or at least not quite correct…

  • Heres a question. If R18 was legal before but you had to pay $30 extra to get an R18 game, would you have kicked up a stink? and be honest

    Also Mark i think a key point is that GAME and EB ran petitions and did some marketing around R18 raising awareness. It is not in a retailers best interest to be pointing out they charge a lot more than overseas shops now is it ?


  • i think prices have gotten a lot better of late, still not as sharp as they could be, but you arent paying 100-120 for new release games. I still import games when i can / care to, but its a new release sometimes its not cost effective to do so. EG Transformers fall of cybertron JB 69$, ozgameshop was 64$ (its now 55$), so why would you import to save $5?? However this trend is not across the board.
    will be interesting to see how prices go now with game being out of market, and companies like JB and HN starting to offer import stock in store.

  • I’ve mentioned this before but I’ll say it again here – I don’t think this inquiry got many submissions because it was just that – an inquiry. Personally, I didn’t bother submitting anything because what would the use of that be?

    This isn’t the same situation as R18+. They were actually after public opinion on that topic, and received submissions for and against. There was a discussion paper made available that presented both sides of the arguement. It was a situation we had clear control over (well, eventually).

    That isn’t the case here. This is a government inquiry into IT pricing in this country and I don’t think anybody in the right mind would come forward with a submission that said “Yeah! I love getting ripped off! In fact, I’d love it if you charged even more!”. Everybody wants cheaper prices, but this wasn’t labelled as a public discussion. There was no paper (that I was aware of anyway), and the way the submission form itself was worded was quite vague (and if I recall, the form was actually broken for a good percentage of the time it was live, so you couldn’t make a submission even if you wanted to).

    With R18+, we made our voices heard, because we believed we could contribute to a change to an archaic government regulated system. We can scream at IT companies and retailers all we like but ultimately they decide what to charge us for their products and at the end of the day there’s not much the government can really do about it. And I think most people realised that.

  • I’ve not read article or comments yet – but I promise to return and read them later.
    I have a personal anecdote for “video game” pricing that’s really quite current.

    The 3DSXL launched in Australia last week (Thurs, 23rd Aug.) and we were the last “region” in the world for the machine to release. I had contemplated long in advance importing from another region. There was the issue of region locking, and wanting to transfer the data from my existing 3DS. I believe I would have been able to transfer between an AU 3DS and a UK 3DSXL, but the point is moot.

    The cheapest UK 3DSXL import I could find was going to set me back ~AU$256, a good $7 more than the Australian RRP. I ended up pre-ordering at EB Games, but requested a price match on the day to JB Hifi’s $229; I believe I could have imported a US one for about the same price, but without the ability to retain all my existing saves, data, etc.

    So in the end, I managed to purchase some new tech gadget, day one, in Australia, paying Australian dollars, cheaper than importing an overseas model. In fact, If I’d opted to import a Japanese version, it would have cost, at the cheapest I found, ~AU$450.

    • I was quite surprised when I got the same results. It shows that companies are finally feeling the pressure of overseas pricing, and they’re trying to combat that. The 3ds isn’t as sharply priced here, and even worse so when it was first released, but they’re getting there.

      It’s the same with iPads. You can always find them for a few dollars under $500 for the 16gb model. A little bit cheaper than the US and quite a bit cheaper than the UK.

  • I think there are a few reasons why people didn’t submit anything.

    First and foremost as you have said, people have their own solutions via import and just don’t care/ can’t be bothered.
    But on the other hand what would be the point anyway? By the articles written here there was no point in the commission in the first place since they can’t do a single thing about it. Its not some government body of Australia governing the insane prices its the distributors and publishing arms of the game developers themselves.

    So then what exactly re we supposed to do? Sure our government could step in and demand equal pricing or they get kicked off our shores, but Im pretty sure with our free trade agreement with the US/other countries that can’t do anything like that either.

    So all that’s left is to only buy grey imports or import them ourselves, what else is there?

  • Think about who was lobbying the Government for R18

    -Particular MPs
    -The attorney general at the time
    -The IGEA (EA, SEGA, 2K, Microsoft etc)
    -Retailer associations
    -Large retailers

    I mean, clearly there was a surge of people trying to get this changed

    Now look at the list above and who having this pricing regime looked at would benefit?

    Um, out of that list i’d say, Gamers.

    Herein lies the problem. The IGEA gave a huge front and lobby group for R18, they had boots on the ground so to speak always working on the issue, lobbying people getting stuff done.

    Without the IGEA, the R18 argument would have been a tougher, longer fight.

  • One aspect which hasn’t been discussed is the cost to businesses and educational institutions to have industry-level software. As gamers buying software on an individual level we have many options if the prices are exorbitant – not so for the businesses who need Photoshop, Indesign, MYOB, etc. Eventually the cost of these packages will be passed on to us. My university didn’t have a lot of money to splash around – and having 500 computers (probably more … I’m not sure of the numbers) all running the same software, with an individual license for every copy – would have been a massive drain on resources. Perhaps if those individual licenses were more in line with international pricing there would have been more money to spend on student services or more modern facilities.
    The world is increasingly centered around computers, and it’s probably just too expensive for state governments to justify putting aside a sizeable chunk of their budget to kit out high schools with industry-standard software. But they need to be there; students who are thinking about a career in graphic design, for example, have the right to have current, up-to-date software to learn on. And businesses who face this same problem are just going to pass the costs onto us, so we pay for it eventually anyway.
    AS consumer if we believe EB is too expensive, we can take our business elsewhere. Unfortunately, a lot of essential industries and educators simply do not have this option. Now, I’m not up on subsidies, or educational packages from Adobe, etc – but nothing comes from nothing, and if they’re “losing” money from one sector, they’re just going to recoup it elsewhere. And they’ll recoup it from businesses, or the government, or from individuals. Either way, it’s the individual who will pay for it through higher taxes, higher prices on personal purchases, or higher fees when someone with a knack for visual design decides they want to take a TAFE course in web design. It’s a broader issue than videogames, and one which needs serious attention – but I don’t know what to do about it. It seems no-one else does either, which is why the government conducted an enquiry into it and, most likely, why nothing will happen to improve the situation.

    • I went to Uni – both Sony and Apple donated hundreds of thousands of dollars of equipment and software to supply us with training equipment. Many companies invest in students so that when they graduate they migrate to their systems in the workplace. further there are massive discounts on large licenses- in regards to student services – talk to john howard. VSU.

  • Your university is obviously doing something wrong maybe? I know for a fact Microsoft and MYOB provide reduced costing for IT based universities

    Why? So when they leave the Uni they tell the world MS stuff is the best (as its the only thing they know) and then their businesses buy MS all the time. Adobe also has student versions that are significantly cheaper.

    I don’t wan t to crap all over your point because you are right its a lot easier to buy things overseas (until such time everything goes digital, then we have a problem), but with Universities and TAFE courses there are ways to get things significantly cheaper.

    Your university probably doesn’t know the Education licence for Office allows you as a student to install office as well (assuming the uni is in the University program with Microsoft) at home.

    Unless thats changed in the last 5 years, which i doubt. Microsoft knows that universities are key to warding apple off

    • I also made the point that I don’t know anything about subsidies, etc, but it seems to me that those kinds of subsidies would apply everywhere else in the world as well – where they’d take the same percentage off the already lower price. So the point comes round to itself, in that we’re still be paying more for the same product. Focussing on the eduction aspect – many people are more informed than I about those sorts of things so I’m happy to announce my ignorance in that regard. However, businesses will still pass on those costs to us, so I think my overall point still has legs.
      And on the side note, whilst I haven’t studied for five years or so, I was there when VSU came in and it gutted my uni experience. I studied in Bathurst, and the entire social culture revolved around the campus, and the events which were put on for free. VSU sucked, and any way the uni could have saved money would have been welcome.

  • I’m personally throwing this on the media coverage, the gaming media’s push for R18 games was epic in comparison to it’s push in regards to pricing. Don’t get me wrong, the issue of pricing in Australia is constantly in the media however there didn’t seem to be the same push to do something about it. I can’t remember seeing links to submit a statement (I could be very wrong here) in regards to pricing however I was bombarded with links and people telling me to make a submission in regards to an R18 rating. I must note I don’t have the finest memory (I’ve often thought of my memory as a goldfish in a bowl of LSD)* .

    Please don’t take this the wrong way, I’m not trying to attack anyone. Just stating my perception of the events (or lack of) that have unfolded. I love Kotaku as much as the next guy/girl, in some cases possibly more.

    * I’ve never had LSD and I don’t plan to.

    • Also, brilliant article. I nearly went all TL;DR until I got through the first few paragraphs which compelled me to continue.

  • They are still accepting late submissions by the way (I will be making one).

    Mass Effect 3 is the game in question. $4.95 AUD for a Premium Spectre Pack here, $2.99 USD in America. Go figure.

  • Import or use my VPN to buy the downloadable version from overseas sites. More than pays for itself. That and I don’t believe the government will get anywhere with this issue. Its not something democratic (Like R18 that may have had an impact on the government); we seem to be prepared to pay extra, so companies will charge it. Simple economics in a capitalist country.

  • I don’t recall walking into an Electronics Boutique or a Game and being pestered to sign a petition about getting cheaper games…

  • Good article Mark but the difference between the two issues (pirating not included) is the the difference in legality

  • I personally did get involved in the R18 issue as I felt it was/is a government issue attacking my rights as an adult. There is only so much the government can do in regards to pricing issues. My solution is to buy from http://www.cheapgames.com.au as I can get the option to import it and get it cheap, or get it locally and pay a bit more but get it quickly. Also I can easily compare the cost difference between my options in a single location. Prices are around the same as from ozgameshop (where I used to always purchase from) , but I kinda feel like I am almost doing the right thing buying my games through an Australian company, at least some of my $$$ goes back into our economy. Also the service has been very good. It does seems that finally distributors are taking notice though with many games that would of been over $100 RRP being released for $79-$89 RRP. I wil add to whoever posted they think retailers make 300% markup – you are delusional. Maybe they do on cables that may cost say $5 but they sell for $20 – but this is a very specialist item. Games have a markup of around 34% and that is a fact. This is fully governed by the publishers. A game that RRP’s for $99 costs $75 wholesale. Not much room to move really and yes our rent AND our wages here in Australia are much higher than in the USA etc.

  • I care about the price, however you have to pick and choose your fights. R18 was needed. If i want to pay less i can get the game from ozgameshop. Which i do. Frequently.

  • As many have said, it’s not just games that have the ‘Australia Tax’. I’m a gamer and a LEGO fan, and LEGO prices here are more than double what they pay in the USA. The dollar has gotten stronger, but prices haven’t been adjusted accordingly; seems they’re just hoping people won’t notice how hard they’re getting shafted.

    • An argument can be made that physical items such as lego would naturally attract a higher price here due to import and tax costs (i don’t agree with anywhere near the levels you describe) but still people almost expect physical items to attract a higher price when compared to overseas.

      However a digital item such as software like games where you get exactly the same product, literally the same files, over the same download servers with the only difference being the price is ridiculous.

  • I’m not too worried about game prices at the moment. I mean JB Hifi has most new releases for $70 now, which is only $10 more than the US RRP, which is fine considering shipping, GST etc.
    Also the more I think about it the more I realise games are actually a bargain compared to movies – $20 for 2-3 hour movie or $70 for 20-30 hour game? I know which one I’d pick.

  • Importing games for a reasonable price isn’t silent protest to me.

    I say nothing so greedy importers and retailers suffer the angst of bad business whilst I purchase elsewhere. As consumers get more savvy, these thieves will learn the errors of their ways.

  • The gamers that care either import, or wait for price drops. Outside Nintendo first party titles (even then there’s a few), pretty much every other videogame out there has a significant price drop, or becomes part of a big sale within 3 months.

    So as long as you can hold off a bit, you end up paying the price you want.

    There are excpetions of course. Like Halo 4. I’ll pay whatever they want me to.

  • My way around this is to not buy games at launch. This has it’s own cons too but in the end, why pay full price when games drop after a couple of months?

    I consider paying full price if I have to have it day one otherwise I get something I missed from a couple months ago and move along. It seems to work for me and these days there are only a few titles I really want on day one.

    While it won’t fix this issue, it’s a work around.

  • Good point, I tend to buy games on steam sales and g2play.net or other websites at better prices so I guess the cost doesn’t hit me like it would others.

  • With the help of a friend in Singapore’s internet space, I got The Sims 3 for $13.40 digital copy retail, while $39.99 was considered a 50% off special for us here in Oz.
    (And it was downloadable and playable in Oz.)

    Same digital product, no added hassles, no delivery outside the internet.

    AUD $13.40 [Singapore]
    AUD $79.99 (or $39.99 on special) [Australia]

    Almost 6 times the price?! What the FUCK EA?!

  • One aspect that i don’t think has been mentioned yet about the lower prices going around in retail stores now is the current state of the console cycle. As we near the end of the current gen systems there are more of them out there and devs/publishers/retailers etc can expect some economies of scale and push more units of a decent game. Under this condition they will live with slightly lower margins. Once the next gen system s are released though we will all see prices on software go up again straight away. As a PS user I’ve seen that cycle 3 times now and i’m pretty sure that there will be a 4th.

  • Even worse is that many publishers are now well aware of gamers attempting to avoid the australian tax. My example is Dark Souls: Prepare to Die edition, was originally $40, which was the same price as the americans pay on steam. About a month or so before its release the price was bumped up to $70. So naturally, many aussies still wanting to pre-order the game took to these alternative methods. The major one being GMG which offered the game at $30 once a voucher had been applied. But the story doesn’t end there, i think about 2 weeks before the games release Namco Bandai instructed GMG to block all sales of Dark Souls to aussie customers. If this PC port fails to reach a significant market in Australia due to people pirating the game, I will blame only NB for their terrible pricing structure.

    And two other examples are any person that bought prototype 2 in Australia on day one on steam got it cheaper than anyone who bought it during pre-order or after day one. Activision is one of the worst offenders in this pricing area. And the money grubbing THQ bumped up the day one price, but then quickly dropped it once the fans took to facebook.

  • The whole Aus economy needs to be modified. We as consumers have no power. The government needs to put in regulations to protect the Australian market from being ripped off (maybe some % from another region’s pricing). Our sales are too small to send any message to the publishers, so they have no idea what price will make them the most sales. The world has internet now so prices should be all roughly near each other. The only price that matters, is the price that the most amount of people will pay.
    I’m pretty patient so i wait for games to cost around $30-$50 but dlc prices are ridiculous.

  • kotaku’s role in all this is to continue to inform gamers as to where they can purchase cheap, games legally online, and have consumers slowly accustom themselves to be price conscious and purchase intelligently via the web. I believe, this will eventually effect game pricing in our stores via healthy competition.

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