Are Aussie Gamers Getting Ripped Off? - EB Expo 2012 Panel

GameSpot's Laura Parker is joined by Polygon's Tracey Lien, former 2K developer Bryan Ma, and former Managing Director of Sega Australia Darren Macbeth to discuss some of the issues that affect Australian gamers: pricing and classification.

Discussion

2 comments
PalZer0
PalZer0

I was the guy who asked the question regarding DLC price jacking on Steam. Darren either didn't understand the question or was deliberately trying to avoid answering it. He'd make a great politician IMO.

robfield
robfield

I don't live in Australia so I am out of the loop here, but if Australian gamers can order products online and get them cheaper than what EB sales for, why don't they? If EB is not being competitive in price they would go out of business since customers would be buying elsewhere. There must be something that EB is offering Australian gamers that makes them continue purchasing from that store.

 

Some people are saying that locally owned stores were offering better prices, but then I would have to ask whether those locally owned stores were profitable, and if they were, why were they in a position to be bought out or out-competed by EB?

robojojo
robojojo

just buy overseas...easy done

artiebillymac
artiebillymac

I buy from Eb games but generally i get games for a discount but still in the past i have dropped 100 plus dollars on games & yea its just to high nowadays for games considerings most aren't worth the price .

macca366
macca366

EB Games sucks for prices. I haven't been there in years, I just go to an independent store I know. The most I've paid for a new game there was $88, which seems more reasonable to me regarding adding import prices on top of the standard US $60

ddt88
ddt88

In short yes. EB Games are one of the worst for price. The freight cost argument & population size is bogus. Our games come from the same factory that produces games the other PAL regions but in most cases we pay more for our games.

Wrathesoul
Wrathesoul

Are aussie gamers getting ripped of? Only if they buy from Australia and not import.

Tixylixx
Tixylixx

Holy shit I thought the girl in the red was a boy in red LOL!

K0PaSk4
K0PaSk4

Oh hey is that the same Tracy that used to work for ABC good games? She cut her hair! I used to have a MASSIVE crush on her! 

jamesh-42
jamesh-42

So digital prices are set high because they only represent a small portion of the market.  Might the high prices actually explain why it is such a small market?

 

And if the price isn't the issue and people will buy physical copies anyway, then why should bricks and mortar retailers care what price the digital versions are?

brendan-OZ
brendan-OZ

EB games is overcharging considering the hold it has over the game market in Australia. I think core gamers will search around for a better price but EB is charging a pretty high price for casual gamers that won't look elsewhere. Atm I have pre ordered both Dishonored and XCOM. Dishonored through jbhifi for $69 dollars & XCOM from ozgameshop for $54dollars. The cost of living is high in Australia, I can't afford to drop 80-100 dollars on games anymore, I will continue to look around for the best price.

Banefire76
Banefire76

Darren Macbeth....parity in release date of games worldwide....really?

 

Sure it's usually only a few days but US still usually get the releases 1st, with the only aberation to that being some Wii RPG games like Xenoblade Chronicles and Last Story which came out maybe 6 months later in the US.

 

Just a small point, but Australia only get games 1st when there is a break in street date in my experience anyway.

bobneil
bobneil

The $A has never been at $US0.43 over the last 30 years or are you referring to the UK pound?

natalieyan
natalieyan

importing game is not a grey market because it is legal here, do some homework before giving opinions

johnnyauau
johnnyauau

Laura's got her own Gamespot logo shirt.

36Chambers93
36Chambers93

Oh the irony with the event being sponsored by EB games

wuputi84
wuputi84

Its not that Aussie gamers are getting ripped off, its because the market is behind and uncertain.

Indeed publishers find it harder to cater to our smaller market compared to other international markets but you would have to think of the return the publishers achieve in a market where our cost of living is high (stated  as *costing factors*) and their is absolutely no loyalty or life expectancy for consumers and retailers.

Its not our fault that Australia, with its smaller market, is located so out of the way in comparison to other countries with larger markets and closer distribution channels. Our dollar is high for a reason, importation. (eg. We are importing once Australia sourced local fruit and vegetables, now from China)

A reduction on retail pricing is a direct result from the digital impact. Where that missing cost will eventuate onto store level will result in shoddy EBA, a harsher commitment in achieving budgets and eventually, loss of store team members and the closure of stores. And EB does have a choice in its dealings with or without Westfield.

It seemed that Darren Macbeth's representations and our legislations are catering for the mainstream and not for the niche. With our constitution in mind this fact seems to be... fair. But with our governments modelling policies and legislations from over seas Australia will still not be taken seriously until Australia becomes serious itself.

 

Lhomity
Lhomity

Its worth noting that game prices have come down over the last 12 months, in Australia. Even EBGames are retailing many games between $68-98, down from the $109 average this time last year. The added cost of distribution, classifications and of course the GST play a role, but there's still a lot of room for reduction in game prices. The high dollar value has only made it more appealing for gamers to import from the UK or US. The dollar value is also a huge problem for local devs who still aren't benefiting from the Tax Rebates provided to the film industry.

 

As for classifications, they really just need to go entirely. The R18+ bill in its final state is a joke that failed to acknowledge adults and almost nothing will change when it comes into effect next year. Like Darren said, a lot of games we usually expect to receive MA15+ will instead be R18+, and games like Manhunt, Syndicate and Mortal Kombat will still be refused. All they want to do is play 'ENTERTAINMENT COPS'. Its blatant censorship, and it continues to cut out local retailers and compel more and more gamers to grey import, as if they didn't have enough reason already.

FallenOneX
FallenOneX

IMHO, Darren Macbeth is either full of crap, or has no idea what he's talking about.

botswanky
botswanky

So basically the Australian consumer market sucks... no kidding. Well, I work hard for my money & I'm not about to pay inflated prices (whatever the reason) if I've got a choice. Haven't bought a game locally for years. And just like Darren points out, try buying a European vehicle without paying 2-3 times more than most other first world countries do. The obscene mark up in price is nauseating, but then again our market is obviously full of lemmings that are more than happy to bear the extra cost, (even though depreciation is horrendous). 

 

Sorry Darren - & the people you represent, but gamers have a choice, & it ain't you. 

 

ChelseaFanatic
ChelseaFanatic

Darren Mcbeth is full of crap. The prices are far too high in Australia. You can simply order games online for 20-30$ less from the UK. Australians get ripped off. I order all my games online, for far far cheaper. If you buy games from EB, you are a muppet. They are so unbelievably overpriced. Wow. Darren. Really?

LE5LO
LE5LO

 @Banefire76 Yeah Xenoblade Chronicles was a bizarre case. I never understood why we got that so early yet it wasn't released in the U.S till 8 months later!? WTF!?

jamesh-42
jamesh-42

 @natalieyan: the grey market simply refers to parallel imports made by people other than the official distributor (which includes online purchases from overseas).  It doesn't mean illegal imports.

 

If it was illegal, then it would be a black market.

LE5LO
LE5LO

 @FallenOneX IMHO you didn't understand any of the valid points he made. Do some research into his claims about wages, distribution costs, a smaller market, digital having to compete with retail etc. and you may start to understand. I've had long discussions about wages with gamers from Europe and America that have made very good points that essentially verify word for word what he's said. Just use your head and think about what he's said. Do you want retailers like EB games to disappear soon by setting lower prices? I know I don't, as much as their practices annoy me (ie. destroying their stock with stickers on manuals/jackets and removing their discs from the boxes) overall I respect what their business does for us Australian gamers and would be very sad to see them go down here due to lower prices. Do you understand? Thanks.

FallenOneX
FallenOneX

 @ChelseaFanatic OK, I was just about to comment on what was said right before the 10:00 mark, when I saw that someone had finally posted. The way Darren described it, the AU gamers have no right to complain about prices, ON ANYTHING!!!!!

ChelseaFanatic, it's nice to hear the opinion of someone who actually has to live through this mess. Is it that way for movies as well, or just games?

FallenOneX
FallenOneX

 @LE5LO So he made some valid points? He also painted himself into a corner when he tried to explain digital prices, and then didn't have an answer when the audience member brought up the price difference in DLC. If he had just said that it was up to the publisher in the first place, he would have been fine. But no, he decided to give this long winded speech about not pricing digital lower than retail. Seems to work well in other territories, why not AU?  THERE IS PROBABLY A REAL, GOOD EXPLANATION FOR THAT!!!!  Too bad he was not the one to give it, so he came off as full of crap. Thanks ;)

ChelseaFanatic
ChelseaFanatic

 @LE5LO  @FallenOneX I would rather EB go down the toilet, rather than them getting away with charging their ludicrous prices. I understand the argument (so please stop being so condescending), it is just not acceptable. It is far too easy to acquire a game from overseas for a lower price. Games are not like luxury cars, on which you are taxed upon them entering the country. The same game for 100$ at EB is 60$ from the UK, and even 80-90$ from JB hi fi. EB games is ridiculous. I will continue buying games for what they are worth, from overseas, rather than being ripped off. I don't care if my average wage is higher than those in the US. Do you know why? Because I can buy my game from the US with no shipping costs for the same price they get it. That is the real value of the game. End of story. If games were within 10$ of the British price, I would buy them from here. However, 20-30$ price difference? Get real! What does EB do for Aussie gamers except rip us off!!

harrry95
harrry95

@LE5LO @ChelseaFanatic I am going to rock this argument by siding with LE5LO. The prices @ EB seem high in comparison to those in the US, however, the average wage over there is 40k per annum and it's 60k down under. If you honestly think that by purchasing online from overseas retailers you are leading some noble crusade against high game prices you are mistaken. If anything, less customers for Australian gaming stores like EB will drive up prices because they still need to cover their operating costs. Overall it is a complex issue that will probably anger many for years to come!

ChelseaFanatic
ChelseaFanatic

 @FallenOneX Movies are slightly overpriced, but have nothing on games usually (there are exceptions of course :)). His explanation for steam being overpriced  was farcical. It's going to become a problem for stores here eventually, the high prices will eventually drive everyone to the internet. They think they are getting away with it, that's why they do it (like apple)! A solution for everyone: Ozgameshop.com etc. I'd love to be able to buy games from my local stores! 

PalZer0
PalZer0

 @FallenOneX  That was actually me asking that question. I have a sneaking suspicion that he was deliberately trying to avoid the question. He'd make a great politician IMO. 

 

LE5LO
LE5LO

 @Banefire76  Big retail businesses like JB Hi-Fi can afford to under-cut and run at a loss for some products, often going below cost price to steal the competitors sales, just as lots of big department stores do to specialist stores, they lose money on sales in one area and making up for them in another, such as all the other products in their stores where the cost price is much lower than the retail price. Am I arguing with kinds here that are just whinging that they want cheaper games at specialist shops because they can't afford them? When you guys grow up maybe you'll understand this one day. Damn I'm copping some sh!t here but I think that's because you guys are too ignorant to genuinely research and would rather just bitch. Everything Darren said made complete sense, guys like the one questioning the DLC price for the Borderlands Season Pass? It was already explained...face-palm, Peace.

LE5LO
LE5LO

 @ChelseaFanatic "IF YOU ARE AUSTRALIAN BUY ONLINE." I'd like to counter that with if you're Australian, buy Australian :)

 

The majority of your hard earned money is going back overseas with a minority of profit going to these Aussie online businesses. Sorry but I'd rather keep ALL that money down here.

FallenOneX
FallenOneX

 @Banefire76

You aren't stirring the pot sir, you're bringing in valuable information that this reader (and a few others) has no first hand knowledge of because of where I live. I'm basing my argument on what I read, have been told, or just saw. If more people would take the time to educate others instead of bashing them, more could be accomplished by gamers as a community.

Banefire76
Banefire76

 @LE5LO  @ChelseaFanatic

 "I understand the argument, it is just not acceptable." - What a contradiction! You understand and it's not acceptable!? LOL.

 

Not trying to stir the pot but EB's prices are unnaceptable when you factor in the fact that they are keen to price match their $88-$109 game with JBHifi's $68 version when pointed out.

 

If they are able to make a profit with JBHifi's prices why don't they just have those prices as standard? It's obvious that they are pricing their games with the hope that uninformed buyers pay the much higher cost and they are fine with that. Ethically that says something about how they view giving "the best service" to their customers.

ChelseaFanatic
ChelseaFanatic

 @LE5LO  I do understand your argument you exceptionally condescending individual. I don't think EB games can justify their high prices through only the points McBeth established (hence understanding your perspective, yet refuting your conclusions). You are obviously so biased and incapable of logical thought that there is no reasoning with you. You cannot understand any other perspectives except your own. I mean, JB HI fi is far cheaper than EB games. EB games is the last place I would ever go to buy a game. Go and get a job their and fulfil your life ambition. None of those points you raised about EB help gamers. They are all marketing tools. Your inability to reason and to see the problems with their retail structure are outstanding. I cannot think of a game which I have seen cheaper at EB than online (bins or not). End of story. Also, I care only for games, not for memorabilia. You can waste your money all you want. By the way, things are changing in a way with my whining, I hate to tell you. Do you know why? I'm telling everyone who is Australian to shop ONLINE at ozgameshop.com etc, to avoid getting ripped off, by the mother of all rip-off gaming stores, EB Games. Hopefully, when their sales plummet sufficiently, they'll lower the prices of their games to their true value, so I can buy locally. I want to. 10$ more I can hack. Not EB's level.In conclusion, IF YOU ARE AUSTRALIAN BUY ONLINE, DON'T GET RIPPED OFF. :) 

LE5LO
LE5LO

 @MoFoMagik  You're wrong on Red Ant, though I agree with some of your points. Did you ever read that (award winning) article by Tracy Lien - The Fall of Red Ant? It seems in the case of Red Ant (not sure about Monaco) your comment has taken the issue out of context simply to bash EB, It was returns that caused a problem, not demands as you stated. I've linked to the article and taken a quote from it.

 

“The primary reason [Red Ant] failed was because of foreign exchange issues"

 

http://www.traceylien.com/article.php?id=6

MoFoMagik
MoFoMagik

 @LE5LO  @ChelseaFanatic Do you remember how many independent gaming stores there were before EB came in and steamrolled the competition? All the physical shops I know of in my area, closed within a year.

 

In the last 5 years RedAnt and Monaco have both dropped distribution deals with capcom and Sega since they couldn't meet EBs demands.

 

The indie stores that still sell non import games are locked out of DLC, even some games are released as EB exclusives. Publishers and distributors end up just dealing with EB since the indie stores simply can't compete without preorder content.

 

All EB's competitors can do to provide competition is to import games and sell them early and at a lower price. If all the next gen consoles are region locked watch them go out of business too.

 

Gamestop owns EB. If you want to help support more competition in the marketplace, buy non import games from your local indie store, pay a few bucks more here and there know exactly where your money is going.

 

I know business is business, I know distribution is struggle for this region. Vote with your wallet, if EB pisses you off look elsewhere.

LE5LO
LE5LO

 @ChelseaFanatic  "I understand the argument, it is just not acceptable." - What a contradiction! You understand and it's not acceptable!? LOL.

"What does EB do for Aussie gamers except rip us off!!"

+ Err...who is running the expo at the moment in Sydney? ;P

+ They provide Australian ONLY exclusives (remember the Portal2 cube, no?) that no other countries get.

+ The ability to speak with gamers face to face.

+ The ability to see the condition of the product up front before purchase.

+ A 7 day return policy.

+ In-store and online competitions

+ Sales that you can find a bargain at (especially for old collectors editions) if you're smart enough to hunt them down. You generally won't find these deals cheaper online, as individuals online set higher prices for these versions of games that are hard to come across after release. ie. Portal 2 Cube Edition.

 

You didn't consider any of those points. There prices are set at a 'ludicrous' level for a reason; to keep retail alive.

 

Overall, it will be a massive loss for us as gamers to have EB games disappear. Either support Australian games retailers or stop complaining, things aren't going to change because of your futile whinging. Wake up buddy.

 

And no I don't work for EB games, and never have, though I would take a position there in a heartbeat. Their employees don't know how lucky they are to spend their days in a game shop and be paid for it!

harrry95
harrry95

 @enelpee  @harrry95 I don't understand what you stated in your first sentence. American's get less money per annum ---- therefore products generally cost less in the states. I mentioned at the bottom of my post that this is a complex issue and some people will truly never get it. I really don't wish to start some flame war with you, but, you choose how to spend your own money. If you don't like the prices, don't pay them. Most Aussies will continue to do so.

enelpee
enelpee

further to this why is FIFA 13 $89 from JB when NBA 2K13 is $59?  $30 difference for what? crock of $hit.

enelpee
enelpee

@harrry95 Americans pay less than us here in Oz for just about everything...food, clothing, music, movies, games, etc. so your justification of them earning less than us isn't really valid.  Aussies get ripped hard for all of the above and then some.  I just went shopping for NBA 2K13 for PS3, ended up getting it from JB for $59..ebay had it for $49 from Hong Kong but didn't want to wait up to a month to get it.  Big W has kept their prices high when they used to be competitively priced, EB Games is just rip off central don't buy games from there EVER.  there is nothing complex about it...if they can price their games somewhat fairly and reasonably - people will buy from them...but instead penny pinching is too high on the agenda, and they will rip you off in no uncertain terms if you are uninformed and buy there.

FallenOneX
FallenOneX

 @ChelseaFanatic Thank you for your honest input. You actually addressed what Mcbeth said in the video, others just seem to want to be "right" about something.