Aussie Gamers Are Still Being Ripped Off At The Checkout: CHOICE

Consumer watchdog CHOICE has launched a fresh investigation into local video game pricing. In a verdict that will surprise no one, it found that we're still paying artificially high prices compared to the US, with some PS4 titles receiving markups of nearly 50 per cent. Here's a look at some of the worst offenders.

Despite the largely impotent efforts of the IT Pricing Inquiry, the "Australia tax" remains an annoying fixture in the gaming industry. To prove its point, CHOICE analysed the local and US pricing of a selection of new/upcoming Playstation 4 video games and found that Australians pay a whopping 33 per cent more on average.

Here's the comparison table in full (asterisks denote pre-order prices):

Game $AU price $AU price ex-GST US price US price in $AU Difference
Watch_Dogs $79.00 $71.82 $59.99 $65.93 9%
Bound By Flame $84.98 $77.25 $49.99 $54.94 41%
Wolfenstein: The New Order $89.00 $80.91 $59.99 $65.93 23%
The Elder Scrolls Online $94.00 $85.45 $59.99 $61.57 39%
inFAMOUS Second Son $79.00 $71.82 $59.99 $61.57 17%
Dynasty Warriors 8:Xtreme Legends Complete Edition $99.00 $90.00 $59.99 $61.57 46%
Assassin's Creed Unity* $99.00 $90.00 $59.99 $61.57 46%
Destiny* $88.00 $80.00 $59.99 $61.57 30%
The Last of Us Remastered* $98.00 $89.09 $59.99 $61.57 45%
Dragon Age Inquisition* $89.00 $80.91 $59.99 $61.57 31%

To be fair, Microsoft and Sony have been doing a reasonable job on the hardware side of things: both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 are more or less in line with US pricing, once currency exchange rates and the GST are taken into account. (This is in stark contrast to the previous console generation, where the PS3 cost $400 more than in the US at launch.)

Unfortunately, this clearly hasn't rubbed off on software groups who continue to treat Australian consumers with contempt. As the recent Watch Dogs furor on Steam proved, the rise of low-cost digital distribution models isn't making the problem go away. Tch.

Not unrelatedly, CHOICE is calling on the Federal Government’s Competition Policy Review to ensure that the ‘Australia tax’ is permanently axed via 26 recommendations. You can read its full submission here.

What's the most outrageous video game markup you've ever seen? Share your horror stories in the comments section below.

See also: Dealhacker: Best Australian Prices For Xbox One And PlayStation 4 | Why I'm Choosing PlayStation 4 Over Xbox One


Comments

    This is why I always buy online.

    I have a PS3 and PS4 and it's far cheaper to buy from overseas than to buy Oz retail or on PSN. Hell, even JB HFi's prices, while still on average $20 more expensive than o/s, are cheaper than PSN for new releases!

    both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 are more or less in line with US pricing

    maybe I need someone to ELI5, but this is why I don't buy the argument that distance and shipping is a factor when it comes to game prices - you can ship a console that stays in line with US prices, but you can't have the same commitment to staying competitive with games?

    Last edited 11/06/14 4:40 pm

      TO play a little bit of Devil's Advocate here... It could be the whole loss leader (Razor / Blade ) sales Model that has generally been how the industry works anyway...

    To be fair some of the games prices are like the EB Games prices, Dick Smith had infamous,the last of us, wolfenstein for around $60.

      weeeeeell... I did buy Borderlands 2 GotY edition from EB Games for $28, whereas its 80USD on steam. Mind you it was a sale...
      But even if you exclude the sales price, retail price at EB Games was $56!

    One of the worst examples I can think of is BLOPS 2, which at launch sold on the US Steam store for USD 59.99, and sold on the Australian Steam store for USD 99.99. No attempt to cloak it by reference to GST or currency conversion, just a straight imposition of Australia tax.

    They have reduced the price in the 19 months since launch though: it's now only USD 89.99!

      Which is why you can get better deals from online key stores like Fast2Play that have BLOPS 2 for $25.65USD. IIRC BLOPS 2 was selling on F2Play and a couple other good key stores for around $35 at its launch.

    Some places are still a joke, but I managed to get Watchdogs on PS4 from Target for $54.

    I don’t know what it’s like on PS Store, but Xbox Live is the worst offender I can think of.

    Wolfenstein on Xbox One is $99.95 on the Aussie Xbox Live Store.
    Switch your region to US and the exact same files will set you back $64.

    That’s f*cking disgraceful. Even if you bought it from a retail store; where a physical copy which has been printed, stored, shipped and sold you’d still be saving upwards on $20 on launch day when compared to Microsofts online pricing.

    Why does MS charge for Xbox Live again?

      its the same with the Sony AU store.
      The american store is as expensive BUT every now and then they have a nice sale.

      PS can get pretty bad I admit. It all comes down to which game or company, but there are some pretty terrible examples that don't even drop over time.

      Sword of the Samurai 4 sat on the AU Sony store or $89 when the few physical copies were in store for $50-$60 on release. I eventually found a second hand copy for $5 but last I checked it never changed.

      Last edited 11/06/14 4:05 pm

    At least EB Games these days are selling sub $100-$110 for new releases. I still shudder to remember the days when that was the norm. For all my in Australia purchases I throw money at Dungeon Crawl here in Melbourne. They're reasonable in their asking prices most of the time, when they aren't. There's Ozgameshop

    I finally gave up on companies charging us a fair price. I just created a U.S PSN account and download all my games from there. Its still annoying to buy U.S PSN cards but still a lot cheaper then buying a game from JB or EB games.

    As people mentioned ozgameshop is probably the best solution but i really hate having to collect games and I have been wanting to go all digital purely for a convenience factor.

    They have done it with The Witcher 3 now too, it just $50 yesterday or day before and now it's $67 with the premier and loyalty discounts.

    The only way to teach the publishers a lessons is through their bottom line. By not buying from brick & mortar at ridiculous RRP, the publishers will learn sooner or later.

    The problem is, that there will still be kids who just pays RRP without knowing any better, parents and grandparents who buys games as gifts for kids by paying RRP. There gotta be a way to reach them and say 'hey, that RRP is way overpriced!'. I guess having an article about it in a magazine like CHOICE is a good start.

    As long as ppl continue to pay these prices at retail that's what they are going to continue to charge.

    Yes yes yes!! It was even better when the UK pound was in our favour. I have both 360 and PS3. The only time I buy retail is week one on massive titles. Week one Watch dogs price war, 69$. I picked up AS3/4 for around 65$ from big w or kmart.. but again.. that was week one. But those titles are always loss leaders. Everything else... i dont even bother. Even when trading in, we get ridiculous prices, then to pay for over priced games.
    Any gamers basically in the know will buy all their games from the UK.. either amazon or oz game shop or zavvi. I worked at EB for a few years... and even with their staff discount.. it wasnt worth it.

    Last edited 11/06/14 3:14 pm

    This is in stark contrast to the previous console generation, where the PS3 cost $400 more than in the US at launch

    The pricing of the PS3 here was ridiculous. I was able to import - at 2007 or so exchange rates - a Japanese system, couriered, with an extra pair of controllers and a couple of games for the price that they were asking for the system alone here. Glad we've moved on from that.

      True but I still don't get how a $100 price difference could be explained by an 8c exchange rate + GST! Is still think the hardware prices are taking the piss

    When they first retired MS points it seemed like the prices were actually quite fair on the Xbox Live Marketplace. Since the Xbox One was released however we're back to square one. While there's arguably more justification for SOME (nowhere near as much as there actually is) mark up in price for physical copies, the mark up online is absolutely absurd and unwarranted.

    I haven't bought anything online with the 360/One since all the prices have been jacked up on all new releases, and i'm very selective with retail games and where/when I get them. Fortunately Big W has had some pretty good deals with new games and failing that, online is still the way to go.

    nothing new, we all know this for years now, what can you do? I just shop around finding a decent price. As mentioned in the post, big w, dick smith and online stores such as ozgameshop does provide games at a cheaper price.

    Here's a little tip for everyone.
    I bought Elder Scrolls Online for $34 from Ozgameshop during a sale.... and I want my $34 back. It's a terrible game.

    I can't remember when it was but I do remember Good Game doing a little expose on the prices and they interviewed a few people about it.
    The guy repping GameTraders and trying to explain why we pay so much more? Nope. No intention whatsoever of ever changing the prices. Essentially said fuck you to everyone watching and then pissed on the camera.

    Remember that this was almost a full two years ago, too.
    http://www.abc.net.au/tv/goodgame/stories/s3572684.htm

    Not sure how CHOICE managed to convert 59.99 USD to 65.93 AUD for Watch_Dogs and Wolfenstein but to 61.57 AUD for everything else, unless it did the comparisons at different times or from vendors who offered different conversion rates.

    They should of compared with the EU prices. One of the publishers said the aus market was grouped with the EU side of things.

    It's been like that since the days of the NES and Master System. Long live the PAL region!

    *sigh*

      Hmm... that was meant to be a reply to @ataraxia above about "One of the publishers said the aus market was grouped with the EU side of things."

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