GOG promises that regional pricing of its classic game catalog will be fair to gamers in all markets.
GOG announced last week that the coming release of three new games on its site would also bring with it regional pricing for those games, something it has thus far successfully resisted. It claimed that pricing decisions on new releases are out of its hands, and “regional pricing is becoming the standard around the globe” anyway.
“We’re doing this because we believe that there’s no better way to accomplish our overall goals for DRM-Free gaming and GOG.com,” it said. “We need more games, devs, and publishers on board to make DRM-Free gaming something that’s standard for all of the gaming world!”
Good intentions or not, the news went over about as well as you’d expect. Regional pricing generally works out rather poorly for people who don’t live in North America, who are often forced to pay higher prices even when they’re buying from the same digital distributors. The uproar was bad enough that Rambourg put up a lengthy blog post earlier today explaining GOG’s position and promising that it will do everything in its power to keep the pricing fair.
The big problem facing GOG is that it’s already wrapped up a significant part of the classic game catalog that’s legally available, and while there are still big names to bring under the tent, future growth is going to depend on newer releases. But unlike the older stuff that’s just sitting around collecting dust, GOG doesn’t have much say over the pricing policies of new games.
“Top-tier developers and publishers usually have contractual obligations with their retail partners that oblige them to offer the game at the same price digitally and in retail,” he wrote. “This will change over time (as digital sales should overtake retail sales in the near future), but as of today, this is still a problem our industry is facing because retail is a big chunk of revenue and there’s nothing GOG.com can do to change that. We need to charge the recommended retail price for the boxed copies of the games in order for developers (or publishers) to either not get sued or at least get their games visible on shelves. You may recall that our sister company CD Projekt RED got sued for that in the past and we don’t want our partners to suffer from that too.”
GOG’s classic game catalog will also be subject to regional pricing, but at points that ensure a level of parity. $5.99 games are currently expected to go for £3.49, €4.49, 199 RUB and $AU 6.49, while $9.99 games will cost £5.99, €7.49, 349 RUB and $AU 10.99 in their respective regions. And in cases where countries are “really being screwed by regional pricing” on new releases, he said GOG would do its best to convince publishers to offer something unique to those regions to make up for it.
Rambourg said GOG’s initial announcement was “vague” because the policies aren’t yet set in stone, so it’s possible that the specifics or the pricing could change. Regardless of how it ultimately work out, he said the site will continue to push for DRM-free game releases, “attractive offers” on new games for users in the U.K., Europe and Australia, and fair local pricing on classic games across the board. He also invited users to post questions in the forum and said that he would do his best to answer them all tomorrow (February 26).