Harmonix denies 'making a killing' on EU Rock Band

VP Greg LoPiccolo defends European price of rhythm game and instruments--which cost twice the US price tag combined--on official forums.

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This week, Electronic Arts finally announced a European release date for the rhythm game Rock Band: May 23. The title will be a timed Xbox 360 exclusive in the region, with other formats being released sometime in the summer. The game won't come cheap, despite the delay--a full set of instrument peripherals and a copy of the game will cost £180 ($355) or €240 ($380). In the US, the game plus the instruments has a recommended retail price of $169.99 (£86).

European gamers were less than pleased, with many pointing out that they could buy an Xbox 360 console for less, given the recent price cuts in the region. Now, in response to posts on the official Rock Band site's forums, Greg LoPiccolo, vice president of product development at Harmonix, has offered an explanation.

LoPiccolo says, "We're not making a killing on Rock Band in Europe. We are incredibly sensitive to pricing issues. We are painfully aware that the higher the price we charge, the less copies we'll sell. The fact of the matter is the costs of releasing in Europe are far higher than in the US."

He goes on to justify the price by pointing out a number of things, including the fact that shipping costs for the peripherals are "really high," and the UK price includes the 17.5 percent value-added tax (VAT). He also points out European retailers are free to choose to discount the price themselves, whereas those in the US are not.

LoPiccolo concludes by saying, "We're not gouging you primarily because doing so doesn't serve our interests. We can only build our franchise if you buy our games. You may conclude that Rock Band isn't worth the price charged, and that is your prerogative. But it's not magically going to get cheaper because you wish it to be so."

He insists that Rock Band is worth the sticker price. He finishes by saying, "We've sold a ton of these in the US at a far higher price point than people are used to paying for a video game because it really is a new and different experience that you have to experience to believe. Once you get a crack at it, you'll know whether or not it's worth the money. We think you might decide that it is. OK, I'm going back to work. Thanks for listening."

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