Tell Us Dammit: Would You Boycott Triple-A?

There's been a fair bit of news lately about the local price hikes on games, and IT software in general. It doesn't look like it's going to end anytime soon, and the most common comment is along the lines of "Yeah, well, nothing will be done about it." Everyone agrees what's needed is for people to vote with their wallets. But are we willing to do that?

Publishers charge us more because we pay it. There's no legitimate reason for us to pay higher prices on digital services, other than to get us to pay more money, and to appease the publishers' relationships with retailers.

But, completely hypothetically, what would happen if we did decide to boycott the triple-A? There are certainly enough interesting indie games to line on for a long time, and surely many would get their triple-A games from other sources. Or perhaps the point would be that we're willing to simply not play the games until we get fair prices. When I say "vote with your wallets", that's what I really mean. There's no magical 2nd publisher making the exact same product you can move to. There are clones, but you want your game. Voting with your wallet, in this case, means telling the publishers they've actually gone so far that you just can't pay for it anymore. At all.

This isn't a fully thought through plan, nor am I saying I support it. I'm merely asking the question. Let's speak broadly about it for now, even though realistically, specifics would have to be sorted out. There would have to be rules regarding retail vs digital, buying from overseas, piracy, etc.

It's unclear what proportion of people would even be aware of such a boycott. How many people read the gaming sites, as opposed to just blindly walking into an EB and making a purchasing decision based on box art? Who knows.

But just very broadly, is that something that people could do? Imagine that triple-A title you've really been looking forward to is coming out in a month. Would you be able to commit to not buying it, to make a point to publishers?

[Image via Shutterstock]


Comments

    Easily. I was lusting after Blood Dragon, but then I found out it required an internet connection (something my PC didn't have at the time) and Uplay, which I just flat out do not want. So they can go get screwed, I have a billion other games sitting on my shelf still to be played. I don't need theirs, no matter how much I might want it.

    Last edited 01/08/13 11:05 am

      This is my thinking. I'm not boycotting - it's just that the price is too high both in terms of dollars and in terms of hassle (or whatever else) to attract me.

      For example, I'm turned off cold by the mandatory, always-on kinect in the X-Bone, so I won't be buying it. I'm not boycotting it, it's just that it's suddenly become not worth the hassle of owning. When I speak to people about the mandatory, always-on nature of it, too, they agree that the PS4 will do basically what they want a system to do but with less cost in privacy, etc.

      When it comes to AAA games which require always-on connections or use Securom (which kills my optical drives until I reformat and reinstall my OS), the cost's just way too high.

    I'll agree the industry isn't just about Triple A games due to the indie surge in gaming today, but when so many of the best games that have come out in recent history have been Triple A games, it's such a difficult decision to boycott. If I want a game, I will spend that money to go buy it, I probably am fueling the industry to keep boosting the prices, but in my opinion, it's worth it.

    I've come to the realisation that I already kinda have.

    Other than GTA V (which I preordered, and it's the exception) I haven't paid full day one price for a video game this year. At first it was because I was saving for a trip, but even now I've not got back onto the triple-AAA $90+ roundabout for games. Instead I've been playing PS+ games and indie titles, and picking up the big ones when they go down in price.

    I paid $60 for Tomb Raider, several months later, and still got a great thrill out of it. Sure, it means I haven't played Bioshock or Last of Us yet, but I certainly don't feel bereft.

      I was going to say that I wouldn't but if boycotting counts as "refusing to buy at launch and getting it cheap later" then that's all I've done this year apart from The Last of Us.

      I've bought about 8 games this year not counting TLoU and all that's really done is increase my backlog. I can console myself with the fact I at least have a cheap backlog, instead of one that I paid full retail price for.

        Begs the question of what counts as boycotting;
        Waiting for after launch?
        Ordering from overseas?
        Pirating?

        Are people boycotting the games, or the higher AU prices.

      I'm kinda in the same boat as you, but I'm not as patient. Instead, I just use other avenues to get my games as cheap as possible. One of these being Steam and purchasing games from sites like Greenamangaming, Ultimatumgamekeys etc. Still getting the game day one and only paying on average $40USD per game. As for console games, I either buy from places like ozgameshop, or just go on eBay and find a local seller importing UK versions of games. Most new releases can be had for $50-70AUD. The most I'll pay is a day 1 price at JB for something like 'The Last of Us' which I just couldn't wait for. Thankfully JB is usually $10-$20 below rrp.

      In regards to pricing, I was discussing with my fiance yesterday how most Nintendo Wii U games seem to have an rrp of $79 which means picking up new games for $68-$74. That hasn't really been noticed by many people. All first party Wii games were $99 (although probably sold in store for slightly less) but it seems Wii U first party (and most others) are $79AUD or less. I was able to get Pikmin 3 day 1 for $69 and it seems JB and EB have all upcoming major Wii U titles at $79 or less. It would be good to see all games have a ceiling price of $79AUD. Unfortunately the rrp of most PS3/360 games are still $89-99 with a few exceptions.

      I'm the same.... I broke last year on Assassin Creed 3.... FOR FUCK KNOWS WHAT REASON.

    I'm still boycotting Dead Space 3. Thinking about doing the same thing to Blacklist.

    I'm boycotting EA. The problem is that I'm interested in Dragon Age Inquisition.

    Don't know if I can stay strong. Well, if it's anything like DA2, then yes I can.

      Awh, I liked DA2. Not the terrible combat, respawn waves, samey architecture, but rather the focus on a smaller, less 'scion of destiny' story. Instead of that cheapass trope that everyone always goes for, they start you out just trying to survive, then make a little money, then things get complicated and how to deal with not-necessarily-wanted power, then finding that world-shattering decisions are in fact being made, but not because you're the Chosen One, but because you were swinging a very big sword for personal reasons.

      Unfortunately, I think a lot of people panned the game for exactly that reason, beyond the more immediately-obvious surface flaws of uninspired button-mashing.

      Moot point though, because I also am boycotting EA. I'll miss Mass Effect 4 and DA3. Sads.

    I think the current system with consumers and program's is strict enough already. Make a program worth buying or it simply won't sell. we have hundreds of professional critics to let us know if it's worth our money. and that's not getting into the piracy monster.
    most of the market has already adapted to piracy and price drops with micro-transactions and cheap programs. we're getting good value on a lot of things, you can get content or a program for less than a packet of chips.
    it's only when an AAA title comes out like GTa V where everyone says 'that game is worth the price and I want it now'

    A boycott is not voting with your wallet. Well, it's a form of it but it's not the only way to do it.

    Because of the way the market is set up, there are multiple publishers. The Australian publishers are competing with the American and European publishers that we have near unfettered access to. If we buy from Ozgameshop or Greenman Gaming, we are voting with our wallets by going elsewhere.

    I don't think boycotts are productive, particularly when it comes to gaming. Most of the people who get involved make no effort to actually contact the people being boycotted, so they don't know that there's anything going on. We effectively send the same message by buying overseas and there has been some pressure to drop prices because of it. It isn't a won battle but progress is being made.

    Anyhow, most triple-A titles simply aren't exciting me these days. I'd much rather pick up an indie title or a board game. The end of this console generation's life cycle is rather bland and samey. I want games that do more than lean on tired FPS tropes. Especially if that game is meant to be narrative focused and we end up having to clear waves of duders between story beats just to give us something to do.

      Agree with everything. The latest releases of "AAA" games are really disappointing, GTA 5 is yet to be seen, I remain sceptical.
      The flow of innovation is almost gone from the industry. It's the same thing over and over again with different combinations of other ideas and concepts. Nothing original or groundbreaking.

    I vote with my wallet all the time. Most people here will. But unless we start protests and picketing EB games or other stores nothing will change. Man we should totally do that. Anyone else want to create witty signs and inform others of the price differential

    I should elaborate. All consumers need to be educated on their purchasing options and then only with a large majority or well informed consumers will this change. How many parents use ozgame to buy games for their kids? (Im 32 and have a son so I would... but plenty of EB shoppers are not regulars here).

    Last edited 01/08/13 11:16 am

      Hey bud, I am an EB shopper. Have been for years. I have no issue with their prices. Price matching, heard of it? Picketing out the front of their stores?? Sounds like another case of "gamer entitlement"

        Why price match when you can take your business to the company already offering lower prices?

          Because those companies have a tendency to practically shit on their games before handing them to you.

          Or alternatively, if you and everyone else pricematch elsewhere and leave the product in-stock at the store hosting the deal, then everyone gets to benefit from the deal instead of just the lucky few who get in first.

            I've never experienced that.

            Reward the businesses that make an effort, not the ones that are hoping most people won't notice the price is better elsewhere.

              I have a very good relationship with my EB games, you know why? because I do no treat them like the devil. They go out of their way to help me and make sure I have a good experience everytime I go into their store

                I really like the people at my closest EB games too. They're smart, funny, clued-in gamers who give a shit about what they like.

                ...But they pretty much only sell over-priced, Australia-taxed console games. (The PC section of any EB games is a joke.) If EB were more competitive, I'd be back in there and probably not begrudging a minor mark-up over my best options. But a 100% mark-up? I can't support that, no matter how cool these guys are.

              So much this... The flawed logic behind people supporting EB games amazes me, in relation to stupidity it's of a similar magnitude to Scientology.

        Considering you posted this I'm going to assume you have access to the internet.

        I'm going to give an example of how EB's pricing is revoltingly excessive and I want you to justify why you have no problem with their pricing model.

        First of all I'll do an international comparison. Let's use GTA V as an example.

        $108 for the standard edition at EB.

        https://ebgames.com.au/ps3-154040-Grand-Theft-Auto-V-PlayStation-3

        Ozgameshop has exactly the same thing for $63.99

        http://www.ozgameshop.com/ps3-games/grand-theft-auto-gta-v-five-5-game-ps3---

        Resulting in a markup of 68.78% - Justified? I think not.

        But let's be a little more realistic and go with local pricing, surely they'll be pretty close.

        Ok, we'll have a look at JB.

        http://www.jbhifionline.com.au/game/ps3/grand-theft-auto-v/659498

        $89!!!!!!!!

        Even locally EB has a markup on their main competitor of 21.35%

        Ok.... so now logically justify that. Sure you can price match but why should you have to, they have competition so their prices should be competitive from the get go yet that's so far from the truth it's not funny.

        I eagerly await your response.

        Last edited 01/08/13 2:10 pm

          Also worth noting, with the EB vs Ozgameshop comparison postage is included in OGS's price, excluded in EB's price.

          Your point is valid but terrible maths. The markups are 68% and 21% respectively. A 100% markup would be double the price. The numbers you give would be better described as "EB's price is X% of the competitor".

            Hahaha, in hindsight that was a pretty bad mistake. Cheers for pointing that out though. Also fixed now.

            Last edited 01/08/13 2:10 pm

          You also need to factor in that that extra dollars you pay at EB are for the free pre-order bonus content that you don't pay for because it is free...

          Wait..... Does that that even make sense?

            Yeah, with GTA V all versions I listed came with exactly the same content. But this is occasionally a valid point. The one time I had to cave was OOT 3D with the ocarina, could not pass that up.

          What you don't know is that EB buy games from a distributer that charge something like $75-$80 per new release. They will go down a bit if EB buys HEAPS of copies, but not that much. For EB to sell games at he same price as ozgameshop they would lose money and die. simple.

          Hence the uproar over 'grey importing' where it is a lot cheaper to just buy stock from the UK at retail than it is to buy from distributers over here. The uproar came from the people who have the licences to sell games wholesale, as they would be the ones losing money, not from retailers. Hell, Game traders use grey importing as their business model and are going pretty well, much better than GAME who succumbed to the pressures and prices of buying over here.

        I'm surprised to say that I'll defend EB Games for one thing. When The Last of Us was out for about a week, they were selling it for around $70-80 (can't remember exact price) while JB Hifi was selling for ~$90 (again, can't remember). Same thing applies about price matching at JB Hifi, but I thought "I'm already here, and I'll reward EB Games for pricing things reasonably".

          Agreed. Be a man and price match - you should never accept sticker price.

          Thing is most of my games have been bought there and most of them price matched.

          The other thing is thanks to JB and Big W, most new releases hit at $69 which is reasonable

      I'm 36 with 4 kids, I use ozgame shop and sale sites all the time (exception was Skyrim which is worth double its cost imo) I have over 150 Xbox games almost all bought on the cheap.....not including other consoles and PC games.

      What's the point in making placards to stand out in front of their store when you won't see them through the forest of SALE signs assaulting your senses every time you get within a postcode of a store...seriously they should advertise when they are not having a sale...

    I buy AAA games rarely enough that boycotting wouldn't make a huge difference. Nevertheless, I don't by anything Ubisoft makes at release prices, and any of the giant regional rip-offs also get left on the virtual shelf 'till they're selling dirt cheap (or at most double the price of dirt if the regional asshattery is maintained). I held off buying Anno 2070 'till long after release, despite a burning interest.

    I've got more games than I can play, and I'm not enough of a trend whore that I must have the latest games right now regardless of ethical pricing. I'll sometimes pay release prices if they're fair and if the game looks damn good.

    I won't buy anything on digital distribution that has Australia Tax. (No Max Payne 3 for me yet despite being a massive fan of the series)
    I won't buy anything with unnecessary DRM. (No Diablo 3 for me yet)

    I try to avoid any 'consumer treadmill' titles that are heavily marketed for immediate consumption and to be forgotten about within a month. I try to apply this to all forms of media though - music, movies, tv shows and books as well. Best way I've found for that - if people are still talking about it in 6 months, it could be worth looking into.

    I'm not claiming to have a 100% foolproof system here, or to have some sort of moral high ground. This is the system that works for me to try to get better value out of what I can feel are more personally responsible purchasing decisions for my gaming budget.

      Wasn't it like $12.49 on steam..... So the AuTax would have been sweet fuck all?

      I'm pretty sure I picked it up on Xbox Live for about $5.

        I have the same policy on purchasing stuff with a convict tax. If you are offering the same product, at the same place, via the same method then they should be the same price. If you are not doing that then I will not but. At the top end adding $30 to a $50 game is excessive and actually makes it too expensive for me to justify buying,
        But down the track things get cheaper and well within the price bracket I can afford but the principle of having a BS markup means I will not buy it. I have refused to buy a game that has $2.50 markup, because it had that markup.
        It can be annoying and sometime I get annoyed that I can't (based purely on my principles) play that game, but unless consumers change their behavior and don't buy things the disagree with then nothing will change.
        Or so say the little cogs in my brain.

          I employ the same actions but without the moral strength of principles of any kind. Basically having a fairly bad/ outdated computer means I have to wait a couple of years anyway (at which point I might have a slightly better PC) and this of course comes with the added bonus of cheap triple A titles.
          Having an outdated PC is a way of life that saves me money in a way I cannot avoid, effectively saving the cost of a new PC by the time I buy a new one, while still getting all the triple A titles I want, albeit a bit later than everyone else.

    I'm not sure I can effectively boycott because I almost never buy games on release (except for Naughty Dog) anyway. I've only paid more than $20 for a game in the last two years (Bioshock Infinite: $34 and the LoU for $54. I never buy EA anymore because I feel their games are incomplete experiences. The only upcoming game I expect to buy on release is The Witcher 3 - which won't be regionally priced anyway.

      We hope. Witcher 2 was (eventually - the GoG.com team gave a rebate to anyone buying from Australia though, for the dollar value of the Australia Tax).

    I won't entirely boycott triple a titles because there are some games that shouldn't be missed. However, I very much am boycotting the Australia Tax on triple a titles. I don't have an issue with waiting until it's at a price that I'm happy with (that starts around $40.)

    I'm 32 and I have a mortgage, typical household expenses (rates, utilities, maintenance costs and so on), and am planning on having kids in the next year or two so at the end of the day buying luxury items like games is a thing that happens when the price is right.

    I'm enjoying indie games more and more. They make up the bulk of my buying these days. Never really played a bad one yet.

    To a certain extent, people (who care - and this is important) already are voting with their wallets. We can see it with regards to TV shows, where they're paying a lot more attention to piracy.

    Boycotting is not an effective vote, because the message is easily missed, if you aren't telling them why you're boycotting. That requires a degree of effort many gamers aren't going to make.

    'Not buying something' means nothing meaningful to a producer of content. It could mean that the price is too high, it could mean that the quality of the work isn't very good, it could mean that marketing targeted the wrong demographic, it could mean that a similar - better - product was released at the same time, it could mean that localisation is poor, it could mean that the choice of distributor is poor (with regards to ease of accessibility of the product, and where distributor chooses to focus their efforts), it could mean that the game wasn't generic enough to be easily understood and needed a demo or better gameplay videos...

    'Not buying something' doesn't tell the publisher/developer ANYTHING about those factors. All it tells them is that the game didn't sell well.

    It could mean ALL of these things. And you can tell these things from not only whether people are putting dollars in your pocket, but by whether they're playing it - paid or not. And how they paid for it.
    Now, piracy? Piracy tells you a lot of things. It tells you that the product is of sufficient quality to be played, but that something is getting in the way. It tells you the market is THERE, and to an extent, it can tell you about that market. Steam sales? That tells you something different - that maybe the title reviewed poorly or didn't capture enough enthusiasm to be worth a day one purchase, for that price. Copies sold by greenmangaming/ozgameshop? Another story entirely.

    ****

    This is a nuanced subject. For me personally, I am a fan of video games. An enthusiast. I enjoy them, I enjoy examining and comparing and discussing them as much as I enjoy playing them. That's why I'm on Kotaku, writing about them.

    Boycott or no, I'm going to be playing the big name games. The difference to publishers and distributors will be HOW I go about playing them. Will I preorder for sweet exclusives? Will I purchase digital/retail? Will I wait for a Steam sale? Will I pirate? Will I grey-import through JB hi-fi, or through a more obscure smaller distributor?

    That's useful data, if they had a way to look at it and/or could be bothered to look for it, because it speaks volumes about my thoughts as a consumer.

    I have no desire to boycott a title because its Australian price is too high, if it is available from another source for an acceptable price. If no alternative exists, then I've no problem waiting until the price drops. That's how I vote with my wallet. My beef is with the Australian publishers, not the devs.

    If it's due to predatory or unnecessary microtransactions, I will buy the game and not take part in that side of it. And, if I feel that the game suffers as a result of design decisions influenced by this cash grab, I will be far more sceptical of their next title. Trust someone as far as they give you reason to, and no further.

    I wonder how publishers might react if Steam had a feature incorporated into their 'wishlist' to say why you aren't actually buying the title at the moment.

    'Price too high, waiting on sale'
    'Curious and interested, but not $X curious about it'
    'Hoping someone will buy it for me'
    'Played it/own it already elsewhere, don't want to buy again for a Steam key'
    'Waiting until publisher removes [x stupid feature, like uplay]'
    'Regional localisation/pricing/servers currently insufficient'

    That shit would be worth its weight in gold to any exec who knew what the fuck they were doing.

      ...and how many executives have you met that know what they are doing? I certainly haven't met any...

      I would love to see something like this implemented in steam.

      Your previous post made me think of the same thing :)

    I still haven't bought Mass Effect 3, Crysis 2/3 or Dead Space 3 (Based on what I've heard, I dodged a bullet with ME3).

    I cannot support EA, they take quality franchises and throw them in the shitter.

      EA published ME3. Bioware were behind it and most of the decisions made around it. I dislike EA as much as the next guy, but they actually make very few games, they just publish a tonne of them.

        They might publish them, but they also have strict influence on the publishers. Multiplayer for ALL games, that's an EA decision, not a publisher decision. Because of it time that should be spent polishing the campaigns for quality games gets spent developing a generic multiplayer component so EA can justify their online pass.

        Take a look at Dragon Age 2 and tell me who's to blame... Bioware for developing a shit game, or EA for rushing them.

          Fair enough, I was just focusing on semantics, I never meant to undermine your opinion (one that I actually agree with) sorry if it sounded like I was trying to. :)

    The problem is, it takes more than a drop in profits, even in a specific region, for publishers to change their pricing.
    It's easier to attribute decreased sales to increased piracy, or at a time like this, an end-of-gen downturn.
    And with limited options in regional Australia, you get games by travelling tothe nearest EB, buying from steam or online order for grey imports.

    I've always grown up expecting that a game will cost $100, if it's cheaper than that then it's a bonus. Yes you can buy them cheaper in Europe and the States but the same goes for food and alcohol so it's just the way it is. I'd rather just buy something when I want it rather than take a moral stand on it as its only me who's going to suffer. When I was younger I could probably see people's point more but as you get older and have more money I seem to care less about the price difference.

      The problem is that they've opened the pandora's box of digital delivery. It might make sense if we were to get the Aus price higher than the US/UK one if they simply tacked on the cost of shipping, Aus retail wages, GST (which is about the same and sometimes less than US state sales tax), and local advertising. But they're charging WAY more than that, then making the digital cost exactly the same - and the digital doesn't have those associated cost increases.

      They're trying to have their cake and eat it too, and it's causing problems because we can see it, very clearly.

    For games? No I won't boycott. I'll just wait until I can pick them up for <$30, or if I really want them I'll use ozgameshop or amazon.

    So I guess for the purposes of this article, I've actually been boycotting buying games in Australia for years. It's just sooo much cheaper. I mean, ebay are still selling TLOU for $100! I haven't paid that much for a game for over 10 years now. Money is just too hard to come by to throw it away like that.

      I agree. I just wait till game prices drop <$30

      Why boycott? They do come out with really high production games that look like movies. I'm not against that, but I am being prudent with my finances.

        You said it man. I had to buy TLOU though, I just couldn't wait.

        Luckily big W were selling it with a bundled official gamepad for $108, and I was in need of a new gamepad. $50 for TLOU and $58 for a new gamepad, I was happy with that.

    and then when local game stores close and we cant do midnight launches or get games on release, you lot will have another reason to sook and moan. This community will never be happy. No matter what they do it is never right.

      Willing get off your ass and go down to a store at midnight? Madness.

      Next gen will do digital downloads day 1. Steam already does this (some games even support pre-loading). We will still be able to get the game day 1 or at midnight.

      You are right about the community never being happy... We get censored games!

    I have in my own way, I spend most of my game dollar on things like kickstarter projects. The Only AAA game I plan on buying this year is GTAV, been playing since the first one, can't quit now. :)

    I can't say I have any real urge at the moment to jump up and down and formally boycott AAA titles, regardless of how overpriced they are. At the end of the day I still want to play a lot of the big titles, no matter how strong my disdain for the publisher.

    That said, I've found myself making almost no day 1 purchases in the last few years. Like everyone else I have a massive backlog of AAA games that I picked up for a song during various steam sales, so I never really feel short of things to play. There are still a lot of big name titles dropping that I'm dying to get a hold of, but I have the willpower to wait 6 months (or longer) if I don't like the price at release. I just picked up a pile of older AAA titles from the last 2 years during this sale, all for a fraction of the price they would have cost at retail release. Anything that I can't wait for (or the publisher maintains an unreasonable Australia Tax even on Steam), I simply buy from overseas.

    It's a fairly simple system, but it works for me just fine. I own most of the AAA titles from the last few years, many of which I'm yet to finish (or even play), and I rarely walk away feeling cheated or fleeced.

    I still drop by JB hifi and EB games whenever I'm nearby, but only to check out what's been recently released, what's coming soon, and chuckle to myself at how overpriced even the "sale" items are.

    I've been on the Kickstarter and Indie bandwagon now for long enough to have enough games in the pipeline to not buy AAA... but like @transientmind says, this isn't telling them that I am not buying their games because I don't like the prices I am being offered in Australia. It just means I have enough games to play right now..

    When the Steam sale happened recently, it was the first time I'd bought a Steam product, directly from Steam in about 2 years... but again, it doesn't tell publishers anything. If on the other hand, people get behind the new wave of "big name" independent developers that have been happening lately.. and I mean, lots and lots of people... it will at least send the message that the current business model might need some tweaking... but it's still not going to help with our own problem in Australia.

      Yeah. There's got to be a better way of getting a message to publishers about why we don't buy things. You might have the most popular, widespread boycott in the world against always-online DRM, on-disc DLC, 50 different retailer-specific preorder exclusives, in-game microtransactions, and the Australia tax, but it won't mean shit if the publisher sees their sales figures and says, "Oh, this game didn't sell very well. Better fire half the development studio responsible and invest in mobile games."

    Sure I can! Avoiding AAA titles until they are sub $40 helps me avoid the over-hyped crap like SimCity or games that my friends were quickly burned out on like Diablo3.

Join the discussion!