Today Might Not Be The Best Day To Buy Games On Steam

You're probably all aware by now, but there's a giant Steam sale going on right now. It'll go on throughout most of the first week of July as well. And that's excellent — because as it turns out, today might not be a great day to be buying games in US dollars.

If you haven't been keeping track of current affairs, here's a quick update. Britain is currently having a referendum on whether it should stay or remain in the European Union, and while a possible exit — handily called Brexit — might not happen immediately if the bid is successful, the financial ramifications are huge.

Whether or not Britain remains in the European Union will be determined by the overall number of votes. According to the BBC, around 16.8 million votes are required for either side to win (with over 15 million votes having been counted at the time of writing).

Bookmakers and traders all week had been operating on the expectation that the Remain (or Bremain) camp would win by a very narrow majority. That's generally considered A Good Thing as far as economists are concerned, because the consequences of untangling Britain from the European Union's financial mechanisms are ... well, bloody complicated.

Because of that belief, the stock market and exchange rate was on the rise. But in the last few hours, the polls have shifted away from the Remain camp and more in the favour of a Brexit. Here's the current gap:

It's still on a knife-edge, but that uncertainty has spooked the living buggery out of markets. Shortly after markets opened, Business Insider reported that the ASX 200 nosedived by 2 percent and Japan's Nikkei shed 2.17%.

The damage to the exchange rate has been palpable, and after an initial surge on the belief that Bremain would win the day, the Aussie dollar has gone full Bonnie and Clyde.

This is a live chart of the Aussie dollar against the US in recent hours. It started the day above $US0.76 cents, but things have only gone south from there: it's hovering just under $US0.738 at the time of writing. If Brexit continues to gain ground, markets will plunge even further — making all those tempting sales on Steam just that little bit more expensive.

Of course, should the votes turn in Brexit's favour — which is entirely possible — it's expected that markets will rally, and the Australian dollar will recover a good chunk of today's losses.

So with that massive volatility in mind, perhaps today isn't the greatest day to go on a Steam buying spree. Patience is a virtue, after all.

Update (2:00 PM): With major news outlets now officially forecasting a Brexit, the dollar has continued to get properly smashed:

Down almost half a cent* in the space of an hour. Brace for impact, people.


Comments

    I fly to Italy on Sunday, on my British passport.

    Timing.

      Don't worry you'll be fine. Technically Britain has left the EU yet, this was just a vote. It'll take months for them to actually leave, the vote itself is what screwed up the economy which is the scary thing xD

        i think it's 2 years.

          At least. The default is ~2 years if they cant sort it out, but they can set a date after that if they want/need to.

          Given the complexities, expect it to be more than 2 years.

    Thanks for the heads up, I forgot of Steam's (infamous) use of USD with AUD amounts.

      I lodged a complaint to ACCC about this... Australia is the onlyvwestern market still trading USD on steam when they clearly have region pricing. NZ pays $NZ... why do we pay USD?

        really?? NZ pay NZ dollars? well that's bloody weird we pay in US dollars then

        But why do you care? what difference does it actually make? it won't make games cheaper.

          It'll make them more stable, at the moment a game's cost can fluctuate for us because we're exchanging it to USD, if it were AUD we'd have a set price. Also it'd be nice to not have to look up the current exchange rate every time I want to buy something from Steam.

            Last year I bought a Sims DLC pack for my daughter - Origin was listing the Sane Price in AUD as Steam was in USD! Your lord GabeN is rorting you

              Uhhh, ok? I don't really know what you're trying to argue with me here, all I said was that I want Steam to display in AUD.

    Looks like "brexit" is going to clinch it here.

    Either way, i gots no money to spend. :'(

    Hang on Britons are voting on "whether to Stay or Remain"!!? Geez I know there's barely any choice with politics but that's the worst example yet!! 😝

    You tricked me into reading about politics and economics on a gaming blog! And actually care about it! How dare you!

    Hooray! Australia gets screwed over again by something that has nothing to do with us!

    And Britain has exited. My source is news.com.au, but they could be wrong.

    Also explains why my usual currency conversion website xe.com is down.

    Well not that there's anything on sale today I want at what i feel is a reasonable price.

    Last edited 24/06/16 3:01 pm

      exit vote still needs 1m votes at time of writing this comment.

        Yeah but the BBC has called it. 27 results left to declare and exit is a million votes ahead.

      news.com.au... is new source? just like Fox News is fair and balanced news. But yeah in this case they are virtually right.

    fantastic article! hadn't even considered the effects this would have on the average australian gamer.

    Our AUD is rising against the GBP though, steam sales aside this should theoretically result in cheaper games locally, since our prices are pretty much based off UK prices. Although I doubt we'll see any real differences any time soon :|

    Was that cathartic, Alex? Getting to write about important current events and tie them in to work?
    I would've found that very cathartic.

    Also, it's very useful to me personally. Gonna see if EB have bumped up the price on their Steam gift cards today (which, for those who weren't aware: unlike Woolworths, EB have already done their currency conversion, meaning that buying a $50 steam card at EB gets you $50US. Buying a $50 card at Woolies means you get a $50AU card, which Steam converts at the time you punch the code in.)

    Last edited 24/06/16 2:49 pm

      I really enjoy what I do, so I don't know that I'd say it was cathartic as such. It's always fun taking the opportunity to write something from a different angle though.

    Down almost half a dollar in the space of an hour. Brace for impact, people.
    Half a dollar, eh? ;D

      Glad it wasn't just me thinking that...

      Unless I'm reading those graphs wrong it's gone from around 76c to 73c...

      Not exactly bank-balance breaking stuff.

      Guess this is what happens when game journalists report economics ;)

        Even if you look at it from the AU side it's only around a 5 cent increase per US dollar.

          Was meant to be half a cent, and that was the period between original publication and when the update was posted. Didn't get to the typo until now, apologies.

    I've always been conscious about the exchange rate so I kind of knew we'd probably suffer a bit. I'm more curious about the impact on video game releases. Australia has always been part of the PAL territories (also referred to as the EU territories). Does this split have an effect on that or is it just that Britain becomes like Australia and is a territory tacked on to the EU schedule?

    And we leave the EU. Good stuff as I fly to England next week and I haven't exchanged currency yet. On less selfish, but economic reasons nonetheless, I would've voted to leave anyway if I had've registered in time

    AT some point in the future it will be cheaper to import from the UK.

    So I deliberately hadn't looked up the deal with current events and had just read things in passing until now, which had lead to me thinking that Brexit was a newly elected racist prime minister in the UK.

    Shit.

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