Now that support for the Australian dollar is finally live on Steam, and developers have fixed their prices for Aussies, was it worth it - or are Aussies still better off getting a deal from elsewhere?
There was a time when buying games on Steam was the best part about being a gamer. The strength of the Australian dollar when it was beyond parity with the USD made games extraordinarily cheap.
But those days have come and gone, and today a single dollarydoo will buy you $US73 cents, about the same as what it would have bought you this time three years ago. The amount of marketplaces that sell in Australian dollars is much larger, however, so Aussies now have genuine competition when it comes to buying games online.
At first, it was only retailers like Ozgameshop. You could snag a super cheap bargain, but you'd have to wait two to three weeks for shipping. Then GOG came along with their regional pricing policy, and in the last 12 months Fanatical (formerly Bundle Stars) has followed. Even places like Humble Bundle will now advertise prices in Australian dollars, although in reality you're just paying the converted price in USD.
Still, the competition is fantastic. And it means that while blockbusters might be priced at $89.95 on Steam, there's plenty of chances to get PC games for far, far less. Let's look at some examples.
Assassin's Creed: Odyssey
I'm pulling out Odyssey first here, partially because of yesterday and also because it's one of the biggest blockbuster titles this year. Ubisoft's tentpole games are a good barometer in general of how major publishers treat digital storefronts, particularly since they're not in the position of selling direct through hardware the way a Microsoft, Sony or Nintendo does.
At the time of writing, the full price for Odyssey - which Ubisoft confirmed to me via a phone call yesterday - on Steam is $89.95. The Autumn Sale means you can get the game for $60.26:
If you're wondering what that extra info on the screenshot is, it's the Enhanced Steam browser extension. Seriously: use it. It's a gamer's best friend.
Now, if you wanted to buy Odyssey elsewhere, here's what you could get it for. Note that these prices are just for the base edition, not any of the deluxe versions or bundles with DLC included. Stores below that say converted from USD means you'll be paying the currency conversion fee at checkout; others either factor it in beforehand (like Humble does now) or charge directly in AUD (like the Ubisoft Store, GOG, and so on).
Another note: some stores have special offers or deals that I haven't included below for good reasons. Humble Bundle, for instance, will give you 10% off if you're a Humble Monthly subscriber - but it's not reasonable to include that if you're just buying an individual game, so I haven't factored that into the prices below. Humble also offers a small amount of cash back, but that cash is stored in your Humble Wallet, and not discounted off the price of the game, and therefore it doesn't qualify as a discount for the purposes of this article.
- Green Man Gaming: (converted from USD) $53.64, $47.23 once Black Friday discount is applied
- Fanatical: $58.46, $52.61 once Black Friday discount is applied
- Humble Bundle: $55.39
- Ubisoft Store: $56.97
- Gamesplanet: (converted from GBP) $58.01
- Gamersgate: $60.27
I couldn't find a PC code for Odyssey on Amazon Australia or US, so that hasn't been included. JB Hi-Fi also didn't stock PC copies of Odyssey, and neither did EB Games or Big W at the time of writing.
In any case, this is a pretty good cross-section. Having to pay over $50 for a AAA game that's just over a month old is, well, pretty normal. And most of the retailers are within spitting distance of each other. Fanatical is the lowest, but we're only talking a difference of eight bucks here.
Monster Hunter World
MHW is another good example: it's a blockbuster game and undoubtedly a great game to crank up on the PC. But it's also much older and, therefore, you'd expect bigger discounts.
So if you're looking to dive into Capcom's hunter escapades, how much should you have to pay? On Steam, the base game will set you back $56.06 with a full price of $84.95.
- Green Man Gaming: (converted from USD) $63.41, $51.39 after Black Friday discount is applied
- Gamersgate: $61.89
- Fanatical: $70.26, $63.23 after Black Friday discount is applied
- Indiegala: (converted from USD) $66.06
- Humble Bundle: $82.68 Gamesplanet: (converted from GBP) $74.73
Capcom's official site directs users through to Steam, which probably explains why Steam has the best price out of all the stores listed here. It's also a reminder as to why shopping around is always worth it. Different devs and publishers have different relationships with each storefront, and it's not uncommon to see products priced better on one store than another.
Green Man Gaming, for instance, have a 19% off code just for Capcom games (provided you login first), while their Ubisoft discount code is only 12% off. Otherwise, Steam has the better price.
But what about popular indie games, ones that are available a little more broadly?
Kingdom Come Deliverance
We haven't talked about Kingdom Come in a while. Largely because I haven't played it, but then you can't play everything. But KCD is good to bring up in this comparison, because the indie developers tend to work with every storefront they possibly can, rather than excluding some (like a Capcom, for instance, might).
So stores that haven't been brought into play - mainly GOG - are now part of the conversation. So say you wanted to get into some fantasy sword slashing and drunken saves. On Steam, it'll set you back $47.97.
- Green Man Gaming: $49.55, $38.65 once Black Friday discount is applied
- Fanatical: $48.89, $44.01 after Black Friday discount
- GOG: $44.39
- Humble Bundle: $49.60
- Mighty Ape: $55
- Gamesplanet: (converted from GBP) $65.06
Mighty Ape had a PC version of KCD, so it was nice to lump it in here. But really, you can see the difference start to stack up massively at this stage. A $10 difference for a game that is under $50 is not a discount to sniff at. That's a whole another game you could buy. Or lunch. But you get the idea.
Bethesda pricing to Australians has usually been great - if you're buying from a retailer. Through Steam, it's a whole different kettle of fish. If you wanted Skyrim VR today, Steam will charge you $44.97. Let's look around, shall we?
- Green Man Gaming: $41.31, $35.11 after Black Friday discount
- Fanatical: $43.17, $38.85 after Black Friday discount
- Gamersgate: $44.98
- Direct2Drive: (converted from USD) $41.29
- Humble Bundle: $82.68
Steam's actually much more in line with what you can get these days. Bethesda's online store doesn't sell Skyrim VR, even though they do sell codes for their other games. But again, shopping around can save you a nice amount.
Endless Space 2
Two games to go, and I wanted to pick lower price indies for this. Indies are the games most likely to have the same pricing everywhere, the ones that put most of their focus into Steam as a point of distribution, and also the ones that are less likely to have special arrangements and deals with different storefronts.
As far as the Steam changes are concerned, it's here where Steam pricing should be the fairest and most competitive.
If you buy through Steam, it'll set you back $14.95 with the full price set at $43.99. Elsewhere:
- Fanatical: $13.19, $11.87 after Black Friday discount
- Humble Bundle: $18.73
- GamesPlanet: (converted from GBP) $52.42
- WinGameStore: (converted from USD) $13.76
Indies like this are also when you get into the availability problem. Just because all these keys are digital doesn't mean games are available everywhere.
Something like Dead Cells is perfect to round this off: an indie that launched through early access, with no publisher, and has gained Steam through strong word of mouth and growing critical acclaim.
Naturally, the Steam pricing should be pretty good given that Valve's storefront was its original home. Dead Cells will cost you $28.76 on Steam, but elsewhere:
- Fanatical: $26.78, $24.10 after Black Friday discount
- Green Man Gaming: $27.54
- Indiegala: (converted from USD) $27.54
- GOG: $29.95
- Discord Store: $29.95
- GamesPlanet: (converted from GBP) $30.97
- Humble Bundle: $34.44
- Gamersgate: $34.38
- Direct2Drive: (converted from USD) $34.44
First instance of the Discord Store cropping up here, and also an indication of what Aussies can expect - prices largely in line with GOG.
But again, it's here that the Steam change is most interesting. After the AUD change, Steam's offering is now better than GOG's. Green Man Gaming aren't offering any special discounts on the indie roguelike at all - at least not the extra bargains that Capcom, Ubisoft and other select games are getting.
On the whole, you're not getting a bad deal if you just buy direct from Steam here. It's not the cheapest, but it's one of the cheapest right now.
So that's a quick breakdown of what to expect from a range of games from different publishers, at different price points. In short: if you're after a AAA blockbuster, I'd ignore Steam's prices entirely. For games in the $20 to $30 mark, you're probably not going to be saving a whole lot unless it's the sale season (like right now). AA games might be a bit trickier, depending on the relationships the developer/publisher has with different stores.
In general: always shop around. That's the only way to get the best deal, irrespective of what you're buying.