After publicly stating that Australian customers would never have to worry about regional price hikes, Green Man Gaming has recently raised prices on 2K published titles Borderlands 2 and XCOM from $49.99 to a new ANZ edition price of $71.99, causing a backlash from Australians using the service.
"Idiotic move by GMG," wrote one user, "they obviously think we are too stupid in this part of the world to notice a sudden and significant increase in prices."
"I have also been a strong advocate for GMG in the past so it's a shame that they have gone down this route, both for them and for us," said another.
Green Man Gaming had been popular among Australian PC gamers — mainly because the company was previously vocal about localised price gouging, and not going down that particular route. Part of the issue was that Green Man Gaming, a company that prided itself on transparency on pricing, remained silent to begin with, and only addressed the Australian pricing of Borderlands 2 and XCOM after numerous complaints.
"[W]e have had a number of enquiries about price increases on Borderlands 2 and XCOM Enemy Unknown in Australia and New Zealand," read Green Man's statement, released yesterday. "This was done at the request of the publisher based on local retailer feedback. We would rather not have had to do this but we really value the relationship with our publishing partner."
Considering what we know of pricing policies on other online stores, publishers tend to set prices on services like Green Man and Steam. And from speaking to representatives from publishers locally, much of this pricing is set overseas. The pricing is set this way because local retailers simply cannot afford to compete with digital prices.
It's a complicated situation, and it won't be resolved easily. Local retailers are being forced to pay high cost price for PC games and typically work with $10 margins on boxed copies of PC games — a low margin when you consider the overheads of retail, rent, wages, etc. Local publishers have also been quick to pass the buck, stating that lower cost prices can only result in the closure of local offices in Australia. Considering the role that local offices play in marketing, selling and distributing retail titles in this country, the local industry could potentially suffer from a reduction of prices across the board.
It's a tough one. And the Green Man Gaming situation is a perfect example of that. Ultimately, the consumer loses out and that can't be good for business in the long term — especially when you consider the fact the multiple other methods savvy consumers have to purchase games. The model is broken, and it needs fixing.