Australia Included In GOG's Regional Pricing For Games From 'Fantastic Bigger Studios'

Regional pricing for video games has always been a hot topic in Australia. Some online retailers have tried to go against the trend, usually without success, lest they tempt blacklisting by publishers. Digital distributor GOG has fought the good fight for years, mostly because of its focus on hard-to-find games, but with its shifting focus to indies and AAA titles, it too has had to make concessions.

It's not immediately apparent from the title of the news post on GOG's website that regional pricing would be a subject of discussion. Yet, if you hit up the second paragraph the announcement is there, in all its wordiness:

If you've been a member of the site for a long time, you may recall that when we launched sales of The Witcher 2 on, we had to add in regional pricing. The game cost different amounts in in the US, the UK, the European Union, and Australia. We're doing something like that once again in order to bring you new titles from fantastic bigger studios. Since we don't accept currencies other than USD on right now, we'll be charging the equivalent of the local price in USD for these titles.

We wish that we could offer these games at flat prices everywhere in the world, but the decision on pricing is always in our partners' hands, and regional pricing is becoming the standard around the globe. We're doing this because we believe that there's no better way to accomplish our overall goals for DRM-Free gaming and We need more games, devs, and publishers on board to make DRM-Free gaming something that's standard for all of the gaming world!

It's dressed up nicely, to be sure, and Australian gamers have long understood that it's up to the publisher or developer to set pricing, but it looks like we're in for higher prices for certain forthcoming titles from GOG, compared to the rest of the world. To be fair, it's not mentioned that the games will be more expensive, but I find it unlikely we'd be getting them cheaper.

There is some good news though. As partial compensation, GOG will be offering free games to those who end up paying more — at least for now. From GOG "marketer guy" TheEnigmaticT:

Well, for these initial games we're talking about we have a plan to offer free games from a selected list. Beyond that, it's going to be on a case-by-case basis for a while I imagine. We certainly intend to try and offer something for every game that we sell we regional pricing. We know that 1 euro isn't 1 dollar, and we want to try to offset that.

Announcement: Big Preorders & Launch Day Releases Coming! [GOG]


    The announcement is being met with justifiably harsh criticism on the GOG forums. "One World - One Price" has been one of GOG's pillars since it was founded. Now they've thrown that to the wind because the publishers demanded it. So it seems that customers in Australia, New Zealand, Europe and the UK are about to be thrown under the bus again for not being Americans.

    I also think that a lot of the anger is coming from the fact that they've essentially announced it as "Great News Guys! We're introducing regional pricing to appease publishers!"

      well at least GOG is gonna be offering free games to compensate, other stores would simply not give a f*** and tell you to shop elsewhere if you dont like it.

        For the "initial games" they will, then it's a "case-by-case basis".

        i.e. While the spotlight is on them they will offer free games. Then after that they'll do the "not giving a f***" thing you spoke of.

      One thing I REALLY want to do when I release my first commercial game, is to charge more in the US, and charge the normal amount to the rest of the world. The only problem is that it might backfire, and if it's our first game and it fails, there won't be any more.
      It does make some sense, since america has the highest GDP per capita, followed by the EU. So it would make some sense to charge america a bit more.

        I don't see that going well for you at all.

      I think the one issue is that the publishers at times just happen to be owned by the same guys who own GoG which own the guys behind the Witcher 2.
      At least GoG are open about the prices and who sets them unlike Steam which is a constant finger pointing game

    Not sure if it's changed, but when Witcher 2 came out and it was priced more for us, you could easily change your region in the options to get around it.

      They intentionally broke their regional detection system for something like a month or 6 weeks and made a news post apologising for it and basically said if people wanted they could just say they were wherever they wanted and get that price

    This effectively destroys GoG. Why buy AAA games through them instead of just through Steam?

      DRM free as opposed to steam = DRM. Though stuff 'em. I will use Steam gift trading to get around regional pricing.

        You might want to look into the recent changes to how gifting from another region works now. Steam are cracking down on that as well.

          Yeah that came up with games that are not released like South Park and Thief being locked after the fact rather than before you paid for it. I am told though that has been reversed in the last few days.
          Just goes to show that the digital licence model needs to be completely redone globally. Issue is the publishers in music, movies and games will push to have it to there advantage rather than the consumers so damned if you do or don't.

          You can still buy Steam keys off of Amazon, and redeem them in Australia

            A bunch of CD key websites allow you to do the same as well.
            That, and using a VPN can often help.

              I've never seen the need to use a VPN. I just looked up an American address when I signed up for Amazon. And frankly, Amazon just blows any other company out of the water in almost every way

                Yeah, fair enough. The only time i've used VPN is when buying from Origin. Set region to mexico and boom, what was a $150 BF4 + Premium package became a $60 in total combination.

      Because it has no DRM?

      While Steam's DRM is less horrible than some, it does have some substantial disadvantages. Chiefly, you can't run two different games on the same Steam account on two different PCs at the same time (unless you play games with offline mode, which is a pain.)

      For a while I was running two EVE Online accounts. On my laptop, I had to install EVE independently from Steam because I couldn't run the Steam version on two systems at once.

      Similarly, if you have one of their developer packages and an art program under "Steam Software", you can't use them on separate systems simultaneously. That doesn't really compare with GOG (since GOG only does games), but it's still an issue.

      All that said, I do wish GOG had stuck to their alleged principles on this. I've found the offers for compensatory free games usually don't matter for me because I typically have most if not all of the titles on offer.

        If they're willing to backtrack on their principles regarding pricing, what's to say DRM will be any different?

          They had 3 core principles and one has pretty much vanished overnight. The lack of consistency that brings is more than enough to turn me away.

          After reading this article, I'm inclined to agree with this.

        Steam let's you log into the client from different locations now, I think you can use different games/software on the different machines as well.

          Can you provide link? AFAIK the official Steam release still doesn't allow multi-login.

            It does now. Well, for me in steam home streaming beta it does. It also does with the family/friends program it has from memory.

              Yeah, that's the beta channel. Not everyone has family sharing yet. :(

                I think anyone can opt in for family sharing. I only opted in for beta streaming, which was invite only. (It is too crap to run over WiFi is my conclusion, but very promising for other network setups)

                  Thanks for the info, I'll check it out. It's very useful to me...

        Family sharing will fix a lot of those issues, albeit in a slightly hack-y way. You can just create a new Steam profile, share your library with that profile and voila! Two steam accounts with the same library of games/programs.

    Funny how the inflated prices used to be because of bull shipping costs etc... but when its a digital copy, that arguement kind of falls apart

      It's more expensive because of the privilege of delivering it over a copper network

      Yep. Proves the argument that things are priced at what the market is willing to bear. It's pathetic. Our govts have done very little to address this apart from a senate enquiry which pretty much did nothing.

      Last edited 23/02/14 8:33 pm

        I don't know what the government is expected to do about this? Businesses have long charged different prices for the same product in different regions. Sometimes it's legal, sometimes it's not depending on the situation (like grocery store red-lining). In this particular case I don't think the government has any sort of tool they can use against these publishers. Frankly the best thing we can do is to keep importing games on the grey market. In fact, if the government wanted to help, they could completely legitimize electronic media importing. That might send a message to stop this nonsense.

    I'll just repost my... I was going to call it a rant but I suppose farewell note would be a better description

    Well I hate to say it GOG but you've lost me.

    I could manage to just be very disappointed to read that you didn't get the sound bug in full spectrum warrior fixed despite it being a documented and serious problem (making the game totally unplayable for many people as it occasionally broke progression) for at least 4 years that I'm aware of. At least with the guarantee it's borderline justified selling it in that state since it might work for people and they can get a refund if it doesn't but regional pricing, seriously? Way to steam it up.

    I could forgive that for the witcher 2 since you had multiple international distribution contracts to honour and you couldn't undercut them by selling it cheaper yourselves. Yet even then you "accidently" broke the regional detection system for a month or more and made a news post about it apologising for the "error" and in no way encouraging those amongst us who were being discriminated against due to our location to just say we were in America or wherever and get the cheaper price, *wink wink*.

    Remember those days GOG? You were cool back then. That was the kind of customer service that made people form an emotional attachment to a shop on the internet. Sure people can get excited over steam sales, sure people can really dig a greenmangaming 25% off coupon code but people loved GOG.

    When I first signed up in '08, I remember there being a banner on the FAQ page touting what made GOG different, it had 3 points: DRM Free, Same Price Everywhere, Games Are Yours Forever. One of those is already compromised, how long will it be until the others follow suit? Will you one day get Trials Evolution Gold and in the announcement say "Yeah we'd have liked to sell this without uplay but ubisoft insisted and it turns out we liked the money more than we like you". The thing that annoys me the most is that from a business perspective this is an entirely justifiable position but its just not what I was hoping you'd grow into. It feels like an angry, rebellious, smash-the-system, socialist, street poet getting a job at a bank.

    I've gotten some great games here, spent lots of money here, had a good time talking to the nutters who populate this place over the years but I'm afraid this is where I get off.

    Sorry GOG, you've lost me.

    Also Kotaku, you really need to let me do multiple carriage returns in a quote without automatically closing it, makes it hard to repost the kind of long winded stuff I usually do. I'm not one for brevity when loquaciousness will suffice.

    Last edited 23/02/14 1:46 pm

      A rational response. You said why you became a loyal emotionally invested customer, referred factual examples of your reasoning and related it back.
      I hope they read it on the GoG forum and take note. I hope others do the same.

      I understand why you might be pissed at the whole regional pricing issue (while I understand why it exists, it doesn't stop me being pissed off at it myself), what a lot of people are failing to do is see this from GOG's standpoint, which is as a business that wants to keep afloat. In a world where publishers are pushing DRM and regional pricing extremely hard, if GOG doesn't bend a little with certain aspects of what publishers are pushing (regional pricing in this case), then publishers won't give them the opportunity to have their games on the service. If GOG can't get games on the service, people will go elsewhere, and GOG ends up at major risk of going under. When the options are accept some regional pricing or die out, the correct answer might suck, but it's not a hard one.

      The example I like to give: imagine you're still in school, and there's this kid who gives away candy to everyone because he works at a candy factory, and he gets given candy to take home with him after every shift. Everybody likes this kid. He's a pretty awesome guy. Now, his bosses find out that he's giving the candy to other kids, and decide that this must mean that absolutely none of the kids are buying their candy. They now decide to charge this kid a small fee for each piece of candy he takes home with him. Now this kid is either forced to either absorb the cost of each piece of candy he gets, which just isn't viable, or pass the small cost onto the other kids who want the candy. A lot of kids now think of this kid as an asshole, as he's seen to now have complicated the process of getting candy, when the only other option is for him not to get it at all, and not provide it to the other kids.

      It's certainly not a perfect metaphor, but it's pretty clear what I'm getting at.

        Don't forget GoG is Good OLD Games. It was never meant to be a Triple A distribution service but a way to source out of print games. For them to drop their ethics and provide new games is not a good business model from a reputation standpoint.
        GoG was just filling a niche while developing games like The Witcher series - it is not their only income source and they are not a public listed company.

          Well the provision of newer games was fair enough when the older games started getting harder to obtain and they did keep up a pretty solid stream of the older titles rather than just dump loads of new stuff into the list every week. That was fine for me, if nothing else it gave some different games the exposure they'd not gotten elsewhere because they just got lost when some generic spunkgargleweewee shooter launched the same week

            I freaking love that you quoted Yahtzee. High fluffing five dude!

        Oh I do entirely understand it from a business perspective, I mentioned something to that effect towards the end of my message but it's just the simple fact that the core of their image has been the 3 principles of DRM free, fair pricing & buy and own forever. Compromise around the edges all you like but when the core is compromised then it's pretty much a sign that everything is vulnerable. The Assassin's may say that nothing is true and everything is permitted but that's no way to build a loyal base of users.

        As for the fair pricing thing: their own promo video from 2 years ago reiterates their stance in no uncertain terms and within 2 years they've pulled a complete reversal. That implies that either they were never really serious which seems unlikely or that they've decided that the money matters more than the negative PR. If it's the case that they're in danger of going under and are doing this in an attempt to stay afloat then they might as well have said no to the deal and bowed out of the game while they still had their supporters.

        A place as small and niche as GOG becoming a generalist digital retailer with the same regional pricing shit they all do and with the looming threat of DRM (even if they only take to selling steam/origin/uplay keys) really can't compete with the likes of steam with its massive user base, the best they could hope for is to carve themselves a niche alongside places like Greenmanaming and they could really only hope to do that with the aid of a solidly loyal and borderline evangelical user base that they've just alienated by saying "Oh you know that promise we've been making for 6 years now? Yeah we've changed our mind about that overnight, lol, soz!"

    honestly, i've stopped buying games that i wont immediately play and just leave them until steam sales twice a year.

    meanwhile, i used a vpn service to buy titanfall from origin mexico lol - it works out roughly $45AU. $80AU is way too much!

      Are Origin trying to charge $80 for Titanfall?? What the hell happened to $69 being the AUD new game price?

      Makes me wonder what they'll charge for PvZ which will cost $40 in the US

        This. Indeed. Seriously Origin could atleast match JB etc on PC prices. I'll drive 10 mins to get a disc and cd key to redeem on origin to save $20 and a 20gig download.

    Because of this bull shit regional pricing, I rarely, if ever, buy a game on release, instead opting to wait until they're on sale or secondhand. Why should I when I'm being punished for not living in the right country? I get that with physical copies of games the publishers need to make some money back with shipping and localisation, etc, but when it's a digital copy of a game that same argument doesn't apply. Instead it's pretty much pure profit for them, and we're the fucking cash cows. Unfortunately, if everyone bought secondhand or on sale then we'd be less likely to get sequels to great games because sales figures wouldn't be accurate and great games would appear to be less popular than they really are. Really, regardless of what we do it's a no-win situation for us. One way or another we'll pay...

    I think people are reacting a little poorly here, sure, regional pricing sucks, but gog have usually been pretty good to us, doesn't that earn them a little trust?

      Agreed, people seem to forget that the breadth of the catalogue affected by this announcement has not been disclosed (edit: passed a comprehension check, turns out it's only three titles so far, the internet is way too dramatic). If it turns out to be one or two publishers, or the occasional title, I really won't mind. However, a systematic approach to regional pricing would be unacceptable for me, and completely out of character for GOG.

      For now, I'm glad to wait and see.

      Last edited 23/02/14 4:40 pm

        What makes me nervous is that they've said the games in question will include "2 RPGs".

        I'm hoping against hope that those two won't end up being The Witcher 3 and Cyberpunk =\

      Well they went to all the trouble of making an ad, not a banner, not a news post but a video advert 23 months ago decrying the exact business practice they have now adopted. Does it really matter if they do it once or a hundred thousand times?

      It earned them a lot of trust from a lot of people for a long time. And now they've just completely pissed away every bit of it. Sad, really.

      I'm sorry, but this sets a precedent. It's kind of like Microsoft(the same company that earned your trust with the 360) with the XBone's former DRM restrictions... it wasn't essential and they tried to shoehorn that in for their own interests. The difference is that the fans reacted overwhelmingly, and we're now left with the superior version that exists today.

      It's really a matter of competition and what people are willing to accept. If Translink puts up their fare prices... ppl generally grumble and do not like it, but they still take a bus or train because it's the only option that they really have. And then it's water under the bridge while people have gotten used to the prices. The same is true for things like Foxtel vs Netflix and buying an MX5 locally($56k) or in America($23k) for example. Australians get absolutely FLEECED!

      It's not FAIR. It's like having three fruit stalls on the sidewalk. Two of them sell apples for $1 each, the third sells apples for $50 each. The apples all come from the same farm, there's literally no difference between them. Then suddenly one day, one of the $1 stalls announces that it too will be selling apples for $50 each. It's a step in the wrong direction. Even Capuchin monkeys realize they need a fair go.

      Free games is also just like giving a lollipop to someone before bending them over.

      No. They could've dropped their weird ideal of joining the AAA distribution scene and stuck to their roots and their core.

      That would've involved walking away from the table with anyone who made those demands. But that doesn't fit with their new designs on being something different to what they started as. Which means becoming complicit in the war against the consumer.

      Replying to myself because replying to individual people doesn't make sense when you're all saying the same thing.
      To me, their core has always been drm-free games and while that is still true I will continue to support them. Regional pricing sucks but this isn't a catalogue-wide thing, and free games/credit seems to show that they know it's a shit thing to do and are willing to take a hit to make us feel better. In the end they are really still the only drm-free game in town.

    mmmmh that's good irony

    Seriously, I'm just gonna pirate my games now. If publishers aren't playing fair why should I?

      And I'll keep buying games, because devs deserve my money, even if publishers don't.

        Kinda makes me long for the days of shareware in the 90s, where disks would have a note: "If you like this game, please send a check or money-order to [developer] for $15, and we will send you the other three episodes of the game."

    What happened to you, GOG? You used to be cool.

    Seriously don't understand how people can be so out raged at GOG. It was either regional pricing, or they couldn't sell the games. Instead of getting mad at GOG who has had some of the best customer support and deals, get angry with the publishers who demand that Australians pay more. Its no wonder we pirate so much digital content. We have to wait months for movies and TV shows to be released(TV shows are much better now), and we pay more for all of it anyway.

    *Holds up a DVD containing classes from*

    Alas, poor I knew it well.

    Dear GoG.

    To understand the ferocity of jilted gamers' reactions, I think it may help to understand how dire their options have become in recent years.

    The global nature of the Internet is threatening the profit margins of some large entertainment institutions. Instead of adapting to the dramatic shifts technology and Internet globalization have enabled, they are instead fighting a war against the consumer, engaging in all kinds of protectionist behaviour to preserve profits.

    Some of the most egregious examples are:

    * We can no longer pay in full for a complete product, but instead have 'DLC' extras to buy piecemeal, at extra cost, usually from as much as day one.

    * Pre-orders 'sell' pieces of the game to get money in publisher hands before reviews come out, which allows publishers greater control of their revenue - gamers end up paying for hype and marketing instead of the quality of the product.

    * Microtransactions work to exploit psychological flaws and extract even more cash than the original price, which is fine when it's consumer choice, but more games are being designed around forcing that choice.

    * Online features are shoe-horned into games where it has no creative or artistic merit, whether it's cosmetic fluff, social-networking for in-game rewards, or a heavy-handed forced-online requirement which serves no consumer benefit, only the publisher - for two reasons. 1) Social pressure, increasing retention to take better advantage of microtransactions and allow a greater window for word-of-mouth/social-pressure sales, and 2) fighting piracy. Both come at a cost to the enjoyability of the customer experience.

    * Regional pricing. An effort to appease retailers whose business would be hurt by having digital distribution cost as little as it could. With the cost of printing physical media, transporting it, and hiring staff across multiple countries to sell it being an order of magnitude higher, retail prices are much higher than the cost of maintaining a central digital shopfront and serving the bandwidth to distribute to customers. No human server can deliver copies for the same number of copies distributed by a digital server-farm for the same annual wage.
    Rather than passing on this saving, publishers placate retailers, who threaten to stop stocking that publisher's titles, withholding the revenue from the ever-diminishing segment of the market which prefers retail to digital.
    To make matters worse, when retail costs skyrocket in moving away from the US with higher wages, higher transportation costs, and additional advertising budget to what has already been allocated for the self-declared 'centre of the world', the digital distribution price has to rise to match it, but digital distribution costs don't rise, resulting in a higher take-home profit for the publisher.

    Not one of these developments in entertainment has a benefit to the consumer.

    Not one.

    They get dressed up like they do in some impressive logic-twisting that falls apart under close examination and comparison to the history of gaming. The fact is that no technique is too low, too nakedly greedy for the publishers to protect themselves for as long as they can against the spread of globalization and the new paradigm which SHOULD have emerged long ago.

    There are no means of social protest.
    Internet forums are regarded by publishers with the poorly-disguised contempt of a neglected suggestion-box, and boycotts require the most devoted and passionate hobbyists aware of the appalling state of things to willingly abandon their cherished hobby for the sake of principles. A sacrifice which will ultimately be ignored at best, at worst taken as a sign of the boycotted product's lack of desirability.

    The last bastions of social protest are purchasing through sources which don't participate in the war against the consumer, or piracy. And with this move, GoG closes one of the second-last resorts available to passionate gamers sick of the exploitation they can't fight.

    All in the name of what... trying to become something that you're not?

    This was a compromise that yielded less than it cost. For the consumer, at least. I wish you hadn't done that.

    The complaints you are receiving now are likely less about having to pay a few bucks more on select titles, and more about passionate fans watching another victory for the exploitative aggressors in the war against consumers.
    It's yet another blow against hope that things might turn around for us - people don't like when you kill their hope.

    Last edited 24/02/14 1:44 pm

    iirc, there was a game on GOG previously that had regional pricing, but GOG got around the publisher's demands by letting the user set what country they were from, without GOG relying on any methods of geolocation.

      That would be The Witcher 2. CD Projekt, parent company of TW2 developer CD Projekt RED, and owner of GOG Ltd, had international distribution arrangements with a handful of publishers. From memory, Namco Bandai threw a hissy fit that CDP wanted to offer TW2 on GOG at a global price. Lead to CDP having to impose region pricing on GOG for TW2, with the caveat that consumers could change their geographic location to bypass the regional pricing, or, if you were in Australia, consumers could be offered store credit to the sum of the price difference.

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