Green Man Gaming Takes a Stand Against Price Gouging

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Abomination:
I am certain there are ways Steam could 'encourage' publishers to sell at the same price worldwide. Perhaps add a small fee for "regional-pricing services" for every single sale of the game. Don't want to be charged the fee on United States sales? Make all your prices the same (in US dollar value) for every nation.

First off, Steam can't make everything priced using the US as an example. For Europe, VAT laws would mean that Steam could be making a loss on some sales.

Secondly to tell major publishers what to charge for their games otherwise they'll start charging them more is the quickest way to turn Steam into a desolate wasteland with little to no AAA games.

Just because Steam make a lot of money doesn't mean they're not reliant on business and goodwill from their suppliers.

88chaz88:

Abomination:
I am certain there are ways Steam could 'encourage' publishers to sell at the same price worldwide. Perhaps add a small fee for "regional-pricing services" for every single sale of the game. Don't want to be charged the fee on United States sales? Make all your prices the same (in US dollar value) for every nation.

First off, Steam can't make everything priced using the US as an example. For Europe, VAT laws would mean that Steam could be making a loss on some sales.

Secondly to tell major publishers what to charge for their games otherwise they'll start charging them more is the quickest way to turn Steam into a desolate wasteland with little to no AAA games.

Just because Steam make a lot of money doesn't mean they're not reliant on business and goodwill from their suppliers.

Clearly juggling the VAT laws in Europe would be up to Steam, adjusting the price to U$ based on that. That's a VALID reason for a different regional pricing for Europe.

Australia and New Zealand though have no excuse beyond "we can get away with it".

I have seen banks charge small transaction fees for subtle changes or complications investors request. I am certain steam could introduce such things. Nothing massive, nothing that would possibly outweigh their goodwill, but -something- to show their consumers at least they don't think the practice is economically ethical.

Isn't the reason games prices are so high because they have such a high minimum wage?
at 25$ minimum wage 100 doesnt sound so bad for a game

Flying Dagger:
Isn't the reason games prices are so high because they have such a high minimum wage?
at 25$ minimum wage 100 doesnt sound so bad for a game

Nope. I think the reasoning was originally tied up in shipping but is now just a response to market expectations. Like how DVD's retailed at the same price as VHS despite being much cheaper to produce.

As I understand things Australia (the entire continent) and it's isolation are still a problem even with digital distribution. Despite what people might think the internet is not some magical blanket that covers everything and only n eeds to be tapped into, as those with limited access can attest. Anyone who has ever had trouble getting a signal for a portable device, or had to go hunting for an accessible Wi-Fi connection should know this.

Australia, New Zealand, etc.. also pride themselves on being extremely rural, despite having some huge, modern cities, anyone who has ever had someone from this region go off on US bashing for this reason, talking about how "oh gee, I forget Horseback riding isn't a common skill in the US anymore", how great they are with nature preservation, and like how 7 out of 10 of the world's most poisonous animals (or whatever the number was) live there and still crawl around in great numbers.

The point here being that going to a seperate continent, that has it's large community centers but it overall sparsely populated compared to other portions of the world with people packed everywhere, and blanketing the entire thing with internet access when even nations like the US have trouble getting connection to the rural areas, represents a problem. There is also the issue of money being made off of this on a whole, needing to maintain that infrastructure, in light of how many people in each region are going to have to use it. While areas like Sydney, Perth, Melbourne, etc... might be able to more than support their usage of internet, other parts of the country might very well not have enough users to really justify the infrastructure, demands for it anyway have doubtlessly lead to strain and high prices for the areas that can justify it as they effectively pick up the tab for regions that can't justify their own internet access from the perspective of "for profit" companies (and remember, it is all being run for profit).

Australia also tends to be a borderline police state when it comes to internet access, alongside nations like France and China they seem to be big proponents of the whole "National Firewall" concept in limiting information from other countries both due to offensive content, and in the spirit of "cultural preservation". It seems like we periodically hear things about Australian net and electronic censorship which are spine chilling to the civilized world, and spark internal protests from more tech-savvy Australians. At the extreme end we've had groups like Anonymous attack the Australian goverment with online harassment in retaliation. In an overall sense this does not make Australia that attractive for those wanting to provide internet service, especially when the burden of enforcement and censorship can apparently fall to the ISPs themselves, even when they don't object on principle, the bottom line is that enforcement of this kind of thing is going to take time, effort, and manpower, not to mention the constant risk of fines when they fail.

The point here being that when you hear Aussies and Kiwis go off about their own goverments you can kind of see where a lot of these problems come from. Not to mention that a lot of the aspects that are lionized as being great about these countries come with their own down side, and the spread of technology and communications infrastructures is one of them. When you slam US problems, and talk about your own lack of urban blight as a national issue (despite there being regions where it is a problem), it's easy to forget that those problems are the cost of being able to do things like virtually blanket the entire nation under pretty cheap internet access at relatively high speeds. Not to mention the whole issue of freedom of expression on the internet, even as limited as it's becming, still being incredibly high leads to a lot of horribly offensive garbage coming along with it. Australia protects it's citizens from the trash, but that comes at the expense of freedom and of course the costs inherant in having people activelt regulate it.

Just some thoughts.

Also, the bit about Horseback riding (before someone mentions it) comes from a Kiwi I played WoW with who claimed she was an extra in "Lord Of The Rings" during a lot of the mass battles and riding sequences, who said this was actually a common skill in New Zealand and Australia, and was backed up by other guild mates from the same region, compared to the US where it's at best regional.

llyrnion:

Farther than stars:
According to capitalists, shouldn't a competitive market be lowering prices? (Irony!) This is solid proof that prices can be rigged in the free market the same as in any market regulated by the government.

Without getting too much into poli-ticks, there's one trait both capitalism and socialism (or communism or whatever-you-call-it-in-your-part-of-the-woods) share: Its specification is quite different from what we've implemented.

E.g.
- Under socialism, everyone is equal. Except the people in charge. And their families. And their friends. And their friends' friends. Etc...
- Under capitalism, there's equal opportunity for everyone. Except the people in charge. And the corporations with pockets deep enough to buy... er, I mean, sponsor them. Oh, and their families, friends and etcs, too, naturally.

That's why when a small company makes it big, there's a metamorphosis in their behaviour. E.g., they go from, say, "do no evil" to "there's gotta be some amount of necessary evil, because everyone else is doing it". If you search for «apple tax evasion», you'll see a sort of behaviour that's shared by every company big enough to do it.

Getting back on topic - everyone indulges in this price gouging because "everyone else is doing it". The only possible response they'd understand would be if people in ANZ stopped buying games. Since everyone keeps paying, the price must be right, right?

I disagree entirely.

Corporations past a certain size are simply friends at that point. Once they are rich enough they are just automatic friends with politicians. And what kind of friend are you if you will not buy a buddy a $20 million boat for a Tuesday? A terrible one that is what kind.

It sucks for Greenman to have to slash prices so dramatically just to please everyone. The Publishers should be pleasing their customers, not Greenman.

Well yeah I was probably getting shafted with my internet costs and restrictions. We are talking 7 or 8 years ago and living west of the great dividing Range. My provider being Telstra the only provider in the area at the time.

Farther than stars:
Yeah, that's my point though. According to the theory of a free market, competition should have established itself by now, offering better or equivalent games at lower prices. The fact that this hasn't happened yet illustrates the tendency of companies to inflate their prices in sync with the competition simply for the sake of a quick buck. That's how your oligopoly is established and maintained.

Not a free market though. Unlike with, for example, chairs, where anybody can make one that is indistinguishable from the other, games are each unique. (Go ahead, make your Madden/CoD jokes now) Since they're unique, nobody else can make the same game for less.

Sure, another company could make a different game they thought was better and sell it more cheaply (See: The whole Torchlight 2/Diablo III thing) but you'll still have to go to the other guys if you want the original version. If you want to play Borderlands 2 you HAVE to buy it from 2K. Nobody else can make it.

So, something I don't understand:

Obviously being a business they're in it to make money, that's a given, that's not a bad thing.
And it's also understood that Vendor relations are a HUGE part of a business, especially in game sales and Digital Distribution.
However, if GMG really gives such a damn, why do this so roundabout?

If they are so concerned about the prices their clients are paying why not treat the problem and not the symptom?

It's harder, but why not tell the gouging publishers no? Take a stand against it rather than handing out coupons. Tell 2K or whoever happens to try to unfairly gouge, no. That's going to step on Vendor toes for sure, but they are NOT going to pull services from the provider. They'd be killing their own profit by yanking their games off of GMG in spite.

Then again, I'm probably just being too cynical about it.

Glademaster:

Farther than stars:

Glademaster:
Yes but games aren't a Free Market so you can't compare them at all. Games are not in Perfect Competition they are in an Oligopoly. Also Oligopolies aren't necessarily a bad thing.

Oligopolies are an incredibly bad thing! They invariably drive up prices, such as seen with video games in the ANZ market. Those kinds of business tactics are bad for the consumer and we all know that what's bad for the consumer is bad for the economy.
By the way, are you saying that games cannot exist in a competitive model per definition?

Yes game and every other thing sold in the world bar a very few select things actually exist in perfect competition. Like everything if something is operating properly and not being abused there are advantages for everyone easy price comparison, focus on quality and "loyalty" perks are some of the consumer advantages for Oligopoly.

Those are not advantages that weigh up against the loss. Price comparison doesn't really impact the consumer, because they still have to pay the same exorbitant rates, no matter how easy they are to compare. There is no real room for quality, because all theoretical innovation supplied by start-up companies is crippled by the oligopoly's stranglehold on the market.
And 'loyalty perks'? They're nothing but a Skinner's Box technique to push products on consumers, designed with only one interest in mind: that of the retailer.
I agree with you that many industries eventually take the form of oligopolies in a free-market environment, but to me that is a bad thing. It is the dead-end of capitalism, where the short-term interests of companies are seen as more important than the long-term interests of consumers. And that is why we must oppose this system all the way.

Good on 'em. GoG does this as well, though it's their standard operating procedure instead of a voucher. Still, this is good and hopefully more do this type of thing in the future.

Grey Carter:

Region-based price gouging is an unsightly hold over from the days when games had to be shipped around the world in galleys or zeppelins or what ever it was that made Australian games cost twice as much as their North American counterparts.

Actually, it primarily had to do with the strength of the American dollar vs the Australian dollar. There was a time where the Aussie dollar was worth about 55 American pennies. Times have changed, and the US dollar is now worth about 95 Aussie cents, but prices did not.

The reasoning appears to be "because Australians will pay it" and mirrors the physical stores.

The same thing happens, though to a significantly lesser extent, to our Canuck friends to the North. Or South. I can never find Canadia on a map.

Abomination:
It got me thinking, with Steam being as powerful as it presently is... couldn't they just tell publishers "No, fuck you. You want to sell via Steam then you sell at a worldwide agreed upon price."

I don't think Steam wants to, since they actively discourage region jumping far more than even the gaming publishers do.

Abomination:
The reason why ANZ gamers will pay is because they have no choice.

There is ALWAYS a choice. ANZ gamers could choose not to go through this. Not through piracy, but by simply refusing to play the games until the prices come down. This requires self control, something that seems to be in short supply among gamers, but it can be done.

The reason the concept of the boycott has lost all meaning over the last decade or so is that people claim they are boycotting and buy the stuff anyway and hope nobody notices. Piracy isn't going to work, either. Piracy sends the message to the publisher that you want the game and therefore would buy it if you had to, further enforcing the demand for the game. It doesn't matter if this interpretation is true; the message is still sent.

Instead of pretending to be victims of circumstance with "no choice," people should take it upon themselves to make the hard choice for long term benefit.

Strazdas:
We raised all the prices, but here you get to buy one of the items at the old price, and the rest at inflated prices, look how good we are.
sorry guys, i dont buy that. you should have took a stand and said no to publishers, after all, somone should ahve done that like... 4 years ago. but greed, greed never changes....

I guess you missed the whole reusable part of that coupon. Reusable for the next 10 years.

Abomination:
It got me thinking, with Steam being as powerful as it presently is... couldn't they just tell publishers "No, fuck you. You want to sell via Steam then you sell at a worldwide agreed upon price."

I think they have the clout to pull it off. What are the publishers going to do? Turn down having their product on steam, which is essentially the most successful marketplace for PC games?

They could, but then they'd lose money.

If you hadn't noticed, outside of Steam sales (and even then its still overpriced sometimes) the prices on Steam are higher than their competitors. Why? Because they choose to purposely gouge their customers because they know people will pay it and continue to praise them as gods gift to gamin.

Green Man Gamin has definitely caught my eye lately as a place to buy my games. I used to basically shop exclusively on Amazon, but both have fairly competitive prices now that its quite helpful to look between the two. Plus both have a ton of good will goin for them what with Amazons absolutely amazin return policy (I have yet to find a reason they wont refund me money, even if its my own stupidity) and this for Green Man Gaming.

Farther than stars:

But I would have expected an Italian such as yourself to understand the dangers of oligopolies, especially since the most famous oligarch in the world used to be your prime minister. I hear he's hoping to become your country's finance minister now? Shouldn't that concern you?

I'm not even going to address the rest of this but my flag is not the Italian flag. It is the Irish flag if you don't know the flag to country then hover over it with your mouse.

Glademaster:

Farther than stars:

But I would have expected an Italian such as yourself to understand the dangers of oligopolies, especially since the most famous oligarch in the world used to be your prime minister. I hear he's hoping to become your country's finance minister now? Shouldn't that concern you?

I'm not even going to address the rest of this but my flag is not the Italian flag. It is the Irish flag if you don't know the flag to country then hover over it with your mouse.

Oh, look at that. I zoom in my screen to 200% and the colour goes from red to orange. Well, my bad. Sadly I can't think of any famous Irish oligarchs to compare to Berlusconi, but I think I made my point pretty clear.

Zachary Amaranth:

There is ALWAYS a choice. ANZ gamers could choose not to go through this. Not through piracy, but by simply refusing to play the games until the prices come down. This requires self control, something that seems to be in short supply among gamers, but it can be done.

Not without raising awareness it can't

I'm amused how devs and pubs keep the prices high, sometimes raising them while decreasing the content given in both the games & the boxes. Hell prices are STILL high even when you buy digital, I get that's to keep competitive and so physical stores wont get angry but these other countries are getting shafted.

I mean Mass Effect 2: SE for PC was 60 bucks and came with a lot of neat things, ME3: SE was 80 and came with less, not even a bloody manual. Hell PC games used to come in big embossed boxes with a manual and sometimes other goodies, with the regular edition usually.
Come to think of it, Diablo 3 didn't even have a fucking jewel case it was a paper sleeve with the S/N sticker-ed on it, no manual either just a dumb note book.

Daniel Harvison:

Nouw:
What makes a game ANZ? Just a bit confused here >.>. Or are all games automatically ANZ if you live here?

ANZ is "Australia and New Zealand".

I do know that but I'm not sure what makes a game ANZ.

Dryk:

Zachary Amaranth:

There is ALWAYS a choice. ANZ gamers could choose not to go through this. Not through piracy, but by simply refusing to play the games until the prices come down. This requires self control, something that seems to be in short supply among gamers, but it can be done.

Not without raising awareness it can't

Awareness has been raised. This awareness raising coupled with inaction turns it into whining.

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