What To Expect When Steam Supports The Australian Dollar

When Valve first announced that the Australian dollar would finally be enabled by November 21, it was long overdue. And after speaking to local developers to gauge the impacts of the change, the general sentiment is that Australians should be fine. Here's what to expect once you can start using the Aussie dollar on Steam.

This post has been updated in time for the Steam AUD changeover, which is still expected later this week.

Two Valve employees gave a presentation about the AUD changes at Melbourne International Games in Melbourne, and not long after that developers received emails from Steam properly announcing the release of front-facing support for the local dollar.

In that email, Valve revealed that they were hoping to enable the AUD by November 21. That's hugely important for developers, as they'll need to have set an Australian-specific pricing before that date. Once the AUD support goes live - and Valve has said this whenever new currencies are added - a developer's games cannot be sold in Australia if an Australian-specific price hasn't been set.

"If you do not have new currency pricing entered by November 21st, customers will no longer be able to purchase your games in Australia via the Steam storefront," the email reads.

Developers that previously set Australian specific pricing will have to do so again, because all previous pricing for Australians has been reset. The major reason for that is because of a change to Valve's pricing matrix:

Due to significant currency fluctuations, old pricing entries for AUD have been removed. If you previously submitted AUD pricing, you'll need to resubmit. Right now, games are available to purchase on Steam in Australia with USD, but are often more expensive compared to the price in USD throughout the rest of the world.

So Valve's matrix was updated due to these "significant currency fluctuations". Around this time last year, the Australian dollar got you $US0.784. At the close of play yesterday, the Aussie dollar was $US0.73.

What that means in practical terms is Valve's recommended pricing - what a game's global USD price should be in AUD, more or less - has become a fraction more expensive.

According to the developers I spoke to, that will result in a small hike in prices. Before the pricing matrix change, Steam would recommend a $US10 game be sold at $11.95. Now, Valve's algorithm would recommend that same game be sold at $14.50. (A $US10 game comes to $13.69 at the time of writing, although that's not factoring in bank or PayPal conversion fees.)

What To Expect After Steam Supports The Aussie Dollar

Plans to support the Australian dollar on Steam have been in the works for years. But when the AUD finally appears on the front page, what actually happens? To dispel some of the confusion and concern, I spoke to some developers to help outline what customers can expect next month.

Read more

Here's a breakdown of pricing recommendations provided to Kotaku Australia post the algorithm change:

  • $US10 —> $AUD14.50
  • $US20 —> $AUD28.95
  • $US30 —> $AUD42.95
  • $US40 —> $AUD56.95
  • $US50 —> $AUD69.95
  • $US60 —> $AUD84.95
  • $US70 —> $AUD99.95
  • $US80 —> $AUD114.95
  • $US90 —> $AUD129.95

At the time of writing, that's roughly in line with current currency conversions (after factoring in bank fees). It's not unreasonable, but it's also not the small saving Australians were looking at before the algorithm change.

It also means Steam's pricing recommendations will basically be bang on with retail prices. There's still an advantage to buying through Steam, given that most PC retail boxes are just digital codes anyway.

Steam also included a warning of sorts to developers and publishers:

Here's some data: over the past year, we've found that the proportion of sales in Australia has been 21% higher for top-selling games that price at parity as compared to top-selling games that price above the worldwide USD price.

In other words: top selling games that aren't gouging Australians sell 21% better than those that don't. Valve didn't name any offenders, although below highlights the kind of behaviour they're talking about.

But as always, it's up to the publisher/developer to set the price that they want. And global publishers with elaborate retail deals - or their own digital storefronts - will price accordingly.

The most interesting part of all this is the third-party storefronts. What happens to places like Humble Bundle or Green Man Gaming, which sell games to Australians in USD? Do they adopt the new pricing or do they sell to Australians based off the global USD price? There'd be a strong competitive advantage for them to do so, and we'll keep an eye on how that situation develops.


Comments

    I guess the most important things to remember around this change are:

    1) It’s OK to wait. Take a look at that backlog.

    2) The GOG store is actually very reliable, and stocks a lot of the same stuff as Steam, often at a lower base price (but a higher sale price).

    3) https://www.steamprices.com/au is a thing. A good thing.

    4) If we’re getting fucked on price, it’s primarily not Steam/Valve’s fault - even if it’s cheaper on other platforms, that’s the publisher’s choice. If you feel the need to take it up with someone over this (whether by complaints, boycotts, piracy, whatever), know that the Publisher is primarily responsible for fucking us, and direct ire appropriately.

    5) Voting with our wallets matters. The ACCC court case revealed that Australian accounts make up an incredibly significant chunk of Steam’s subscriber count. Any publishers with shareholders cannot ignore how we spend.

      The ACCC court case revealed that Australian accounts make up an incredibly significant chunk of Steam’s subscriber count. Any publishers with shareholders cannot ignore how we spend.

      No, Australia as a whole has less population then the USA has kids and a previous version of this article had it listed that there were 2.2 million Australian accounts on Steam out of 125 million active accounts worldwide. What Australia does have though is laws which protect consumers and a government department that loves to get notches on their belt for upholding said laws. It is easier for Steam to allow "returns" worldwide rather then risk ignoring/pulling out of Australia altogether and hoping that no other countries decide to follow Australia's decision - like the EU who have a quite a significant chunk of the Steam market and is quite a bit more consumer friendly then the largest consumer market in the USA.

        Yeah, my version of 'incredibly significant' is in terms of ~5% of revenue being considered significant, not 20-30%. And that's absolutely where we are. Beyond being whole-number percentage of the market in terms of subscribers, we generally got (if not get, now) charged more, which increased the value of our market, and we have higher disposable income/spending habits in comparison to the global market, which increases the value of our nation's contribution to their revenue, again.

        We're arguing the same thing on consumer protections. There is no company who is going to accept cutting let's say ~5% of their revenue without some damn good reason, and if the reason is, "We didn't want to spend money on compliance," then you have to calculate how much compliance would have cost. And if the cost runs at the tens or hundreds of thousands, or even a couple million, but the lost revenue of writing that nation out of their market is at last guess at maybe a fifth to a quarter of a billion dollars, then the math is pretty damn clear.

        It is easier for Steam to allow "returns" worldwide rather then risk ignoring/pulling out of Australia altogether...

        And that's essentially the basis underlying what I was arguing in that paragraph. There's most likely hundreds of millions of dollars on the table, which is why they jumped to comply with our regulations. This is a reflection of our purchasing power. And if we all stop buying what become transparently over-priced games, without the psychological tricks of thinking they're about 75% of what they really costs becaue the first number we saw was in USD, then that should have a significant impact enough to influence some price changes.

    a developer's games cannot be sold in Australia if an Australian-specific price has been set.

    I think you mean "a developer's games cannot be sold in Australia if an Australian-specific price has not been set."

    Got a bit confused there for a second.

    Last edited 26/10/18 9:56 am

      In other words: top selling games that aren't gouging Australians sell 21% better than those that don't.
      In other words: top selling games that aren't gouging Australians sell 21% better than those that do
      #articleerror
      So many of these lately.

    Warner Bros AUD pricing is the worst on the Xbox Store as well. It's not unusually to see a game advertised on Major Nelsons Blog on special for $10 US which is priced at $40 AUD because they never drop the base prices on the AU store

      I sometimes travel to the US when there is a WB sale on the Xbox store just to get the discounts, its much cheaper than AUD if you get my drift. Rise of the Tomb Raider was another one, not sure if it's Squenix's whole library though.

    Valve’s suggestions are fairly in line with how video game pricing has been for ages - ost PC titles have sat around $89.95, and many new releases in the US are $60 USD. But no doubt shitty publishers will just translate their “AUD in USD $89.95” pricing into the new scale and sell games for $100+.

    I’ve got enough games to play that I can wait for a sale, or I can buy elsewhere or even from JB HIFI with a cheaper physical copy if I want to.

    In other words, 21% of Australians buy their game from somewhere other than from Valve's shopfront when the game is cheaper to buy somewhere else. Whoda thunk it?

    Just buy steam keys from places like Greenmangaming and others and stop purchasing through Steam at all. Many legit options that are almost always cheaper.

      Yeap. Buying from GMG right now with the current price is still cheaper than buying directly from Steam. With the new Australia pricing coming in, buying from GMG is going to be even cheaper.

      No reason to use Steam directly to purchase games except those that are sold exclusively on Steam. (Looking at you Trails in the Sky 2nd and Third that never go more than 35%/25% off)

      Yeap. Buying from GMG right now with the current price is still cheaper than buying directly from Steam. With the new Australia pricing coming in, buying from GMG is going to be even cheaper.

      No reason to use Steam directly to purchase games except those that are sold exclusively on Steam. (Looking at you Trails in the Sky 2nd and Third that never go more than 35%/25% off)

    I middle fingered the Aussie price and moved my account to a different country's store (because it's about 30-50% cheaper). If anything, the price hikes are only reflective of Aussies being able to withstand (still buy games at) the terrible AUD to USD rate offers, AND the higher pricing; our buying power basically.

    tl;dr - Vote with your wallets, stop buying it at the high prices and look for cheaper alternatives.

    so you mean we got PAL region back? oh right nope

    I wonder whats gonna happen with global keys

    I'll get my new releases from JB HiFi for $69, rather than Steam's $90.

      Why not try EB’s $110 dollars just for shits and giggles?

      It's so godsdamned stupid that digital is more expensive than physical for most games.

        Blame Gerald Harvey for that one..

        "Bricks and Mortar stores need to be protected from the evils of the digital world!!"

    The Humble Store is now on Australian pricing - and yeah - prices are roughly what they should be given current currency rates.

    I bought Steam giftcards for XMAS presents. They are obviously in USD. Will I be able to redeem the codes when I give them as gifts at XMAS?

    So does this mean we will finally stop getting the currency conversion fees? It was frustrating buying a cheap game for say $5 then getting hit with a currency conversion fee from the bank.

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