Gaming Down Under

By Shamus Posted Friday Jul 11, 2008

Filed under: Rants 57 comments

What is wrong with videogame publishing in Australia? They get their games months after it hits the shelves in the Yankeeland, the games cost $20 to $40 more, even when the currencies are even, and their ratings system is a hash and is keeping games off the shelves.

I’ve never heard an explanation for why videogame imports are so messed up down there. If I was a publisher I’d want all of my English-language releases to happen at the same time, because doing otherwise just encourages impatient users to head for the torrents.

The extra $20 or $40 has never made any sense either. As far as I can tell it’s not an import tax or tariff or anything else that might be blamed on the government. Certainly other products seem to make it there without having an arbitrary amount tacked onto the price.


  1. Why?
  2. How do we fix it?

EDIT: Apparently in the linked post there is a slight dig at my writing. Some people took offense at that, and then other people misunderstood those comments as digs at me, leading to a humors clog of confusion. The author of the original post emailed me to let me know that his comments on my writing were intended as irony.

In any case, no feelings hurt. No reason to be upset here. Just wanted to clear all that up.


From The Archives:

57 thoughts on “Gaming Down Under

  1. Rason says:

    I stopped reading at “If you want to read badly worded articles on how this will push users to torrenting games, Shamus may be your man.”

  2. MRL says:

    …move to the US?
    The price difference may be due, at least in part, to the cost of shipping, I’d think. Doesn’t it cost extra to just have a game imported individually?

  3. Factoid says:

    Can’t speak for the time delay, but much of the reason for price differences is;

    a) Consumers tolerate it because they’ve always been expensive

    b) Exchange rate: The AU Dollar used to be considerably weaker than the US dollar, so they were priced at the US price, adjusted for exchange rate. When the dollar started to tank a few years ago the pricing structure simply never changed because of (a). This is also happening in Canada, as I believe they pay about a 15 dollar premium for games even though CAD and USD are roughly equal now.

    This is the REAL reason it’s near impossible to find Wiis and WiiFit systems in the US I think. Nintendo makes enough that they could probably supply US demand, but worldwide demand is still very high, and favorable exchange rates make it more profitable to sell systems in Australia and Europe.

    I think in the UK A WiiFit unit costs the equivalent of around $140 US. It’s like 70 or 80 dollars here, I think.

  4. DaveJ says:

    Yeah it sucks. My friends get import games. I rarely buy games now.

    Rason you need to grow up.

    1. Loonyyy says:

      Reacting to someone’s immature (Even if meant sarcastically or ironically) comment by ignoring them is usually the sign of maturity, not the otherwise.

  5. ccesarano says:

    This is pretty much the one thing keeping Australia from an alternate country to live in for me. From what I can tell, importing a game from the U.S. is actually cheaper than paying Australian prices, which is absolutely ridiculous.

    The best thing I can think of is for people in Australia to just start importing more often. As we can tell, piracy isn’t going to help jack and only make things worse for those willing to pay (which only makes a greater range of people want to pirate, thus making companies try and making it harder to pirate, and so goes the never-ending spiral), and so the best thing would be to do a local boycott. Unfortunately, too many people would rather be inconvenienced by price than by waiting for a game to ship (which makes no sense considering the games, as stated, usually come out well after they have in America…especially Nintendo titles, which can take up to a year or more).

  6. Chargone says:

    until recently, New Zealand was as bad. of late, that extra 20-40 dollars seems to have, mostly, been reduced if not lost all together. our censor keys off the Australian one quite a bit, but our rating system Does include an R16 and R18, and the difference between them and an M is usually quite clear.

    it helps that the ratings system used for games here is Exactly the same one used for video tapes and dvds [though, interestingly, the one for theaters Doesn’t quite line up.], though while every video gets it’s NZ lable, often games will be left which whatever one was put on the box when it was published [often Australian, actually] unless the censor’s office decided it warnted something else. often this is the aplication of R ratings, but Sometimes it’s things which got an M in Australia [or occasionally the USA or europe’s equivalents] getting a PG here. crazy fun.

    delayed releases for Console games happened because we get the European ones and console support for Europe SUCKS. Microsoft doesn’t seem to have made this mistake so much with the 360 though. for PC games… well, actually, we useually get the US versions on the same day they release in the states, at least when the publishers have a clue, the distributes don’t stuff up, and it doesn’t get tied up in an overloaded censor’s office due to the time of year. [and if everyone’s organized, that Still doesn’t matter because they clear things ahead of time :D]

    i really hadn’t realized the situation in Australia for these things was so bad. [that said, i wouldn’t care one way or the other about not seeing GTA IV, for example :D]

    on the subject of exchange rates… in the 19..50s i think it was? for a while there the NZ dollar was actually worth More than the US dollar. … not that anyone who wasn’t alive at the time would believe you off the bat if you told them that :D

    yeah, have some barely related thoughts this post inspired.

    also, badly worded? ouch, that’s harsh. from memory some of the more aggravated writings on the subject were less elegantly worded than your usual offerings, but still… what’s he comparing them to? :D

    .. yes, i edited this twice and it’s rambley. i am aware :D

  7. The Corsair says:

    First I would like to point out that the dig at Shamus is meant in good jest. I followed DMotR through to the end, and I wouldn’t have read all his posts if I didn’t like them. Honestly, I didn’t expect to be picked up by Shamus himself. However, it seems the internet truly is a small world, and Australian humour obviously isn’t Universally welcomed.

    1/ The Australian dollar’s recent increase in worth is still very new, and our economy hasn’t properly adjusted to accept this change. We still sell everything at the same price we always have, however from the point of view of the rest of the world it appears expensive. The price of our games to us hasn’t changed. That $20-40 AUD is just leftover from when the dollar was weaker.

    2/ The only way to “fix” the situation is for enough people to make a fuss in the right way. The gripes and moans emanating from the Blagosphere don’t hold much sway in terms of parliamentary policies, however choicely worded letters on tactile paper seem to get the right people’s attention. Let this message be heard by everyone everywhere:

    Never underestimate the power of the pen and paper!

    (Once again, thanks for the link Shamus, and good luck at the Escapist)

  8. Veloxyll says:

    Because our government are mongs. Any games I get in the future I’ll probably import from the States just cause the $10-20 postage is still better than the $40-50 markup

  9. Robert says:

    The cost of doing business in Australia may be higher. In Canada we have higher minimum wages than in the US, so retail stores are more expensive to operate. (Oddly enough, our business taxes are actually the same or lower than in the US for most businesses, so “higher taxes” isn’t an excuse.)

    Given what happened here when the “revenue-neutral” GST replaced the MST*, though, I’d bet on either stores or distributors** making windfall profits.

    *The tax was revenue-neutral for the government, as promised. MST (collected by manufacturer and thus included in retail price) was eliminated and rebated to retailers. Oddly enough, most retailers didn’t lower their prices even though their wholesale costs dropped up to 13%.

    **A few years ago I discovered that the wholesale price for GZG miniatures from the exclusive North American distributor was higher than the retail price in Britain, including airmail shipping from Britain.

  10. Derek K says:

    Does that markup apply to digital downloads as well (I can’t get to the article due to filters)?

    As to the why – AU is mostly free market. Prices are higher because prices can be higher. The resellers managed to get prices up, and there’s no alternative, so they can keep them up, because people pay it. It’s capitalism at it’s worst, sure, but it’s capitalism.

    The ways to fix it are to remove the demand, by finding other outlets, or not buying the product, or to increase the supply, by allowing cheap resellers in, or using digital distribution, or simply forcing competition in price or sales by a government force….

  11. Kevin says:

    I’m guessing that if enough people switched to buying US games and paying the postage themselves, you’d see this situation evaporate right quick.

  12. K says:

    The reason is fairly simple:

    Retailers think the customers will pay these prices, because “it has always been that way”, and completely forget about the internet as the Ultimate Global Equalizer TM. To give a european example: Before the euro was introduced, German magazines (and games) would just be “the same price” in Switzerland and Germany. Meaning, they each cost about “80” of their currency. But a CHF was about 1.2 more worth than a DM. So yeah, the stuff basically got a 20% higher price. And when the euro was introduced, suddenly that trick did not work anymore, because everyone will instantly realize that “5 euro” is not “10 swiss francs”.
    The same is with games. They still cost a lot more (about 80 to 100 CHF) than everywhere else. Google says 80 CHF is about 79$. How much is a game over there? 40 $ if I’m right, yes? And even if the dollar was as strong as it was for decades: 80 CHF would have been nearly 60$, still much more than games cost.

    And guess why I never buy games in Switzerland? Crappy PAL releases for consoles don’t help either. Black bars, different speed or messed up aspect ratio (or all at the same time, see FFX *and* FFX-2) are a bonus. I either buy imports via Amazon, or torrent it. Torrent gives me the best product, by far. Publishers, stop bullshitting me, will you?

  13. K says:

    The reason is fairly simple:

    Retailers think the customers will pay these prices, because “it has always been that way”, and completely forget about the internet as the Ultimate Global Equalizer TM. To give a european example: Before the euro was introduced, German magazines (and games) would just be “the same price” in Switzerland and Germany. Meaning, they each cost about “80” of their currency. But a CHF was about 1.2 more worth than a DM. So yeah, the stuff basically got a 20% higher price. And when the euro was introduced, suddenly that trick did not work anymore, because everyone will instantly realize that “5 euro” is not “10 swiss francs”.
    The same is with games. They still cost a lot more (about 80 to 100 CHF) than everywhere else. Google says 80 CHF is about 79$. How much is a game over there? 40 $ if I’m right, yes? And even if the dollar was as strong as it was for decades: 80 CHF would have been nearly 60$, still much more than games cost.

    And guess why I never buy games in Switzerland? Crappy PAL releases for consoles don’t help either. Black bars, different speed or messed up aspect ratio (or all at the same time, see FFX *and* FFX-2) are a bonus. I either buy imports via Amazon, or torrent it. Torrent gives me the best product, by far. Publishers, stop bullshitting me, will you?

  14. The Corsair says:

    Unfortunately you cannot blame the retailers or the publishers this time. Retailers sell the game based on what they can buy it for from the wholesalers. Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if the wholesalers don’t have that much say in the matter either. This is just an unfortunate state of the world economy, and it will pass in time. The publishers I’m less confident in supporting, but market mechanics don’t give them as much power as you would think. Being a publisher (be it for literature, film or game) is being stuck between the rock and the proverbial hard place. When you consider the “Profit Optimisation” economy we live in, publishers are simply players at a roulette wheel. The date you throw all your chips on (release date in this analogy) can still give you zero return in such a tumultuous mechanic.

  15. Reluctant DM says:

    On the same note. Downloadable Content (DLC) for Rockband (PS3 version) costs an extra $1 per song up here in Canada for no discernible reason. They don’t have to ship it (it’s DOWNLOADED!). They don’t pay extra tax (I pay tax ON TOP of this fee). It’s the SAME FREAKING FILE since we’re in the same region. Geez. If Sony didn’t have a monopoly on delivering DLC I’d shop somewhere else!

  16. Johan says:

    “They get their games months after it hits the shelves in the Yankeeland”

    They need to make sure the disk will accept funny electricity?

    Seriously, though, this has always perplexed me too.

  17. Zukhramm says:

    Same with Europe, one of the reasons you could choose to blame would be translation, however, that can hardly be enough to warrant the time it takes. If we get the games at all, that is.

  18. Eric J says:

    Does Australia have a VAT that might be pushing the price up?

  19. Jacob says:

    Interesting questions. If you want to know the real reasons, you’d have to find a distributor and a retailer and compare notes. I doubt that it’s “because they can” as others have said. I’d be willing to bet that the delay is due to labelling requirements and going through negotiations with the ratings board. Government nannyism always comes with a price and inefficient queues tend to be the favored form of payment. I’m not sure what kind of additional monetary costs are added in that process but those can add up fast. I wouldn’t think enough for $20-$40 per unit, though.

  20. Eric says:

    F the aussie’s there a bunch of criminals anyway.

  21. The Corsair says:

    No VAT, we have a GST (Goods and Services Tax) which is close enough. The GST is a stock standard 10% on everything, which means the tax on games at the average $80 AUD game brings us to a number between $5-10 AUD. The $20-40 AUD comes from the old exchange rate of approximately 0.60:1.00 USD:AUD (that is, every US dollar is 60 Australian cents). If the average game in America is $50 USD then


    There is your difference of $30. The easiest way to think about it, is that we in Australia still purchase the games from overseas for the same amount and still sell them for the same amount, but the difference in the dollar now makes it appear worse for us. Keep in mind, however, that we are still earning the same amount of money now as we were when the exchange rate was worse off for us, so we don’t actually miss this money.

  22. Coldstone says:

    Do they produce the games on the continent? It could be that the extra cost and delay is due to the necesity for shipping pretty much everything across the ocean.

    which, to be fair, wouldn’t make it suck any less, but would explain a few things.

  23. Veylon says:

    In the USA we have the ESRB, which is a private group funded by the video game industry, meaning that the entire cost is ultimately paid for by consumers of video games, not government subsidies. So, how does a government ratings body, which is funded by taxpayers, add more to the price of a game than a private one?

    On the shipping side of things, if it cost $10 dollars to ship an individual item, the most inefficient quantity, it would surely far less, per item, for cases of them.

    EDIT: GST explains all, I see.

  24. Takkelmaggot says:

    As for fixing it, digital distribution seems an obvious win. I mean, Stardock, not a torrent of bits from some pirate-y place.

  25. Blackbird71 says:

    “In the USA we have the ESRB, which is a private group funded by the video game industry, meaning that the entire cost is ultimately paid for by consumers of video games, not government subsidies. So, how does a government ratings body, which is funded by taxpayers, add more to the price of a game than a private one?”

    Hmm, let’s see, maybe because government has always found the less efficient, more costly way of doing things simply because its funding comes from taxes and it doesn’t have to be as concerned about a profit margin? Seriously, if you expect any government to ever do things cheaper than a private entity (assuming free market competition), then your economics education is horribly screwed up.

  26. Dev Null says:

    No, GST does not explain all.

    I used to live in Sydney – 10% GST on games. Now I live in Arizona – 8.something% sales tax on games. The GST may or may not have been a horrendously flawed idea, but you can’t blame it for this one. And you can hardly blame shipping costs when the bloody things are coming from China – its a shorter walk to Sydney than to New York, I assure you. (And in any case the cost of shipping games sea freight would be pennies per disk.) It could have something to do with import taxes; I couldn’t say either way on that one.

    Its not just games either; basline price for a paperback book in Oz was about $22 when I left. A CD that was less than $30 was a sale-bin bargain. And the Aussie dollar was pretty much 1-1 with the US last I looked. Except back at the absolute height of the US dollar I always bought books, CDs, and games on the internet from overseas when I was in Australia, as do many Australians I know. Possibly this cuts into the retail sales enough that it ups the stores overhead, and they keep the prices high to compensate… but thats a bit like pumping more water into the pool to keep it from all splashing out while you drown.

    (Oh and incidentally, buying things overseas means you completely bypass the ridiculous and antiquated Australian censorship board. The US version is just as bad, only they censor sex / nakedness here and leave the violence, and the old farts on the Aussie version often do it the other way around. For movies its pretty much a wash, but games usually have a lot more violence than sex, so they get hammered in Oz….)

  27. Justin says:

    There has to be someone making money on that delay. Shipping is a non-issue. Even with console games, You flush the data down the intertubes and it comes out the other end (counterclockwise). I almost think that the extra money the Aussie consumers are spending would even out if they shipped things in from out of town. Sure that means that they couldn’t play ‘native’ media on their 360 or whatever, but the consumers would be sending a clear message (Oy! enough of this nonsense!).

  28. George says:

    I worked in the distribution industry a short while. I can think of some issues for cost differences. An country that requires that different rating systems be placed on boxes will automatically ensure a higher price for the additional printing cost. Depending on the volume of games sold in that country it will be greater and smaller. It would be much simpler if one could just slap on stick on labels but I am sure they fear people swapping them in the stores to get more people to allow their kids to buy the game. Then with different laws for business. Some countries it is profitable enough to use a local company to create your product there. Such as the CDs and boxes and manuals are not all coming from the same business. They contract that out to however many companies the demand calls for. That was the type of company I worked for. Software packaging and duplication. But some countries have different constraints on doing business like that so it is just legally safer to not produce the material there.

    The biggest reason someone else already stated is they just can get away with.

  29. Carriage says:

    Steam is an excellent way to go. It’s about half price compared to in store.

    Also, it IS the old exchange rate that’s screwing everything up. It is everything, not just computer games. As said before, CDs and books as well as most tabletop wargaming stuff.

    I just bought a whole heap of warmachine stuff from the US for about half the price it would be here, though, we had a group order to lower shipping.

  30. ZzzzSleep says:

    Well, the reason that we don’t have an R rating for games is that we need all the state’s attorney generals to agree, and the attorney general from South Australia, Michael Atkinson has said that he’ll never let that happen. As for the price differential, at the moment it is usually much cheaper to buy a game from Asia and import it rather than buying it locally. It’s a pretty screwed up situation.

    Digital distribution isn’t much help either. Have a look at what happened to Call Of Duty here.

  31. Ranneko says:

    Yes, AU prices are terrible. This is one of the reasons why I love Steam.

    Of course, 20-40 dollars in an understatement for the price difference a new game. Typically you double the price in US dollars to get the AU price at new.

    As a result, I mostly purchase from the US overseas and have it shipped over to me. The $50 price that I hear people from the US complain is too high seems like a bargain price for me for a good game.

    Consequently I refuse to buy Call of Duty 4. Because on Steam they put the price at $88.50 for Australia.

    Further more, I bought my Wii from the US, so I can buy US games, which come out cheaper and earlier than Australia in most (but not all) cases.

    Ultimately things will change, or AU retailers will slowly go out of business.

    Sadly the rating system is mostly being held up by one of the Attorney generals. A new classification (in this case R18+ for games) requires unanimous agreement by all of the state Attorney generals, and the SA one has stated that as long as he is around, it’s not going to happen.

  32. journeyman says:

    I’m Australian and I plan on dealing with this the same way I deal with the lack of Dr. Pepper in this country: mates in the US.

    I do see a potential problem with that most Twenty-sided of issues, DRM. Bethesda haven’t mentioned any, but consider this: If there’s online activation, as games increasingly have, that activation could check your IP and stop you playing it if it’s supposed to be banned in your country.

  33. Jez says:

    As an Australian the price difference is so high as to make buying games at a physical store almost unjustifiable. It’s not just for games either, sites like have sprung up to try and alleviate the massive difference in price points, especially with high-end electronics.

    A few years ago the price difference would have been just about right given that the Australian dollar was worth half of the US dollar, and my conclusion is that retailers have more or less exploited the general population’s ignorance to keep prices at a relative inertia. It’s gotten to the point where a lot of retailers are just brick and mortar money traps who are screwing you out of 30-50% of an item’s worth when you buy there.

    If I as an individual can import a single item from the US for less than it’s being sold for in a retail store, something is seriously wrong with Australian retail. Considering they can buy in bulk and exploit economies of scale. Not everything can be imported though, due to region restrictions. However, the ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) hasn’t ruled on the legality of region locking in Australia, which may or may not end up forcing Sony and others to quit screwing with us on that level.

    Digital distribution can be just as unfair too. I bought Call of Duty 4 as soon as it was released via Steam for 49.95 USD, which worked out to about 55.00 AUD, when it was retailing in stores for 100 AUD. Sounds good? Within a fortnight Activision jacked the price up on Steam to 88.50 USD, which is pretty much the same price as it was retail. Activision then claimed it had been an unintentional mistake on Steam’s part to give us a fair price for once. Unfortunately the ACCC is powerless to act in this instance.

    Hopefully something will change in the not too distant future as more and more gamers and general consumers are turning to direct importation and online sales.

  34. collar says:

    As others have said, it’s a big problem here with many goods, there are so many things that should be cheaper because our dollar is almost 1 for 1 with USD at the moment, but they are still the same price or more expensive than they were previously. So anything you can get from online shops is significantly cheaper than it is buying it from local stores. The importers are basically making massive margins now (they’d say after years of making smaller margins than they should, others would disagree).

    There are some items that do reflect international prices reasonably (with some extra shipping on top), computer parts aren’t too bad, TVs aren’t really that bad once you take into account shipping something that size, but we get killed on games, books, dvds etc. and oh man, if you’re a musician in Australia the price of guitars / amps etc. makes you cry when you talk to people in the US, massive gouging there.

    The big problem with all this is that people will order small items like books and games that you can get much cheaper online rather than getting them from local retailers, so those local retailers lose a heap of business. I like to support local businesses, I’m happy to pay a little bit more to walk into a store and buy something, no problems there, but the margin is such at the moment that it’s just not worth it.

  35. RodeoClown says:

    Steam is great (as others have said) – I got The Orange Box for $55 AU, when it was retailing for $100AU, Valve are good about it, but other companies (read: Activision) modify their prices at their own whims.

    It may also have something to do with them having a deal with local distributors and not being allowed to undercut them on price.

    Prices for new games/DVDs/CDs are starting to (slowly) drop, but I don’t know if it is because of the exchange rate, or JB HiFi putting pressure on the other stores.

  36. Jonn says:

    Well Shamus, you’ve brought a long time lurker out with this one. As an Aussie I’ve been frustrated with this inane system of pricing for years.

    The comments above about exchange rates changing are only part of the story; there are absurd taxes/imports on mass-quantities of anything that can be bought locally, last I checked (several years ago) you would be hit with at least a $50 tarif if you privately import more than $500 of a locally available good.

    Hopefully thats changed since I checked, but regardless – local retailers that are not part of an international chain don’t actually make a killing on sales. They give around a 50% markup, while most stores give a 100% markup – depending on whether customers tolerate it of course.

    But those groups that are large enough to pay lawyers to find the inevitable loopholes in import laws, and have a large supply chain in place? They make a killing.

    One of the key issues is the perception of ‘the market tolerates it’ but this is simply not the case; PC games are rarely sold outside of specialty stores. A few years ago chains like Target, Toys R Us, Big W and the like sold a large variety of PC games. Given that I hated the absurd markup I only bought on sale, so when my local stores stopped stocking more than the top 20 or so games that meant sales were as good as gone.
    I asked a friend who asked their superior and so on, a week later the reply was ‘management considers PC games an inefficient use of shelf space’. In other words, they couldn’t sell enough to make the kind of money they expected.

    Remember, these are big chains that will find some way to import cheaply; and they couldn’t make enough to consider PC games profitable.

    The game Publishers, et al reply: “Damn Pirates….” and nothing changes.

    Yes, there are some games available. If you don’t mind paying at least AU$90, far more likely $100 .

    Even then, if you aren’t in a capital city, you’d be lucky to have more than 50 PC games total to look at, in the entire city. If you DO have that many, it means theres a local specialty shop that stocks large numbers of several types of games. Not all cities have them.

    Digital distribution looked to be the answer; my collection of STEAM games is large simply because I get the game at a good price. I have a half dozen I haven’t played and am in no rush to – it looked good, it had a good price. Impulse buy. And I’m happy with each of those purchases.

    I grabbed Half Life 2 back when it was first released on STEAM, and there were no non-Valve titles, which meant none of the current region locking, price fixing nonsense happening today.

    Theres a forum on STEAM about this, not sure if you linked it and I missed it so here it is again:

    This seems to have turned into a long post, sorry about that.
    Congrats on the new comic, Shamus, hope it lasts as long and gets as much support as DMotR.

  37. ChrisAsmadi says:

    Stuff is like that in the UK, too.

    Hell, the worst example isn’t even games – it’s books. Books here can cost £7 for a book that’s supposed to be $7 – almost double.

    And yeah, we get the bad release dates, but that’s more the fault of those accursed mainland europeans and their upmteen different languages.

  38. Zukhramm says:

    But our releases are usually together with Australia, why do they need to wait for the translationns? Why should we who wish to play in English need to wait by the way?

  39. Divra says:

    1. Because the can get away with it.
    2. Buy your games from the US by mail-order. With current dollar rates, you can basically get 3 for the price of 2, or even better deals.

  40. Zaxares says:

    The Corsair: Do you have any plans to put together a petition or a template letter we can print and send to the OFLC? I’d gladly send one of those from up here in Brisbane.

    In the intervening time… There’s always my good friend, Mr B. Torrent. :P

  41. Robert says:

    if you expect any government to ever do things cheaper than a private entity (assuming free market competition), then your economics education is horribly screwed up.

    Counterexample: insurance. In Saskatchewan, insurance is provided by a single organization, run on an at-cost basis. If costs rise, premiums rise. If costs fall, premiums fall. Insurance premiums were 10% of those in neighbouring Alberta (pre-boom, no idea what Alberta’s have risen to now).

    The difference? SGI was run from a simple cindercrete building by public servants. Alberta’s insurance companies competed with each other, had huge advertising budgets, luxurious headquarters, etc””and passed these “costs” on to their customers.

  42. Icemanau says:

    The problem is not with the retailers, it’s the RRP set by the distributors. I looked at getting Witcher in a local store here in Brissie, cost was $99-109AU depending on which version. Went to the Australian Distributors (AMIGA) website to check the cost of downloading it. EXACT same price as buying the standard version. I then did a quick search online and brought it from a UK online distributor. Ended up with it downloaded for less than $50.00AU. this shows that it’s the game distributors that are jacking the prices up in Australia. A lot of these games are actually pressed or burnt in Australia so there is no real import costs.

    My advice, Vote with your hip pocket and look on the net for the cheapest legal version you can find. Just be careful that the version you buy is allowed to be sent from the country you buy from to Australia.


  43. DaveJ says:

    Comics are also more expensive.

    $6 normally to $10 on occasion, it is usually $3 or less for American comics based on what I read on the actual comic which have prices printed on the cover.

  44. As ChrisAsmadi said, we have the same problem in the UK; most things that originate in the US we end up paying the same in Sterling as yanks do in Dollars (Which, given the state of the USD at the moment, means we’re paying more than double!)

    This is not explained by import tariffs (a lot of this stuff is actually manufactured in the UK), nor VAT (it’s only 17.5%, not 100%), and it’s not the translation work requires any input of time and money (really, we can live without the letter U if it means our stuff is half-price) – it’s simply that multinational companies think they can get away with it.

    And hey – they can.

  45. eloj says:

    We need a new post flaming the feeble Bioware Dragon Age reveal, contrasting it with Blizzard’s Diablo III reveal.

    Dragon Age “trailer”:

    0 gameplay. Doesn’t tell you anything about the game. What’s the point?

    I know it’s “only a trailer”, but I think this must be the worst game trailer ever released in the history of AAA title trailers.

    If Blizzard is Casanova, Bioware looks like that 16 year old boy who’s fumbling with the bra strap and then come pre-maturely.

  46. Davesnot says:

    Why do I have the sudden urge to watch Road Warrior?

  47. DM T. says:

    It’s cheaper to import a collector’s edition game then to purchase the normal edition in a gamestore here in Israel too.
    My problem is that not every online store in the US ships games to Israel, but there’s always eBay to count on, if dire needs arise.
    If I want a cheaper game, I have to wait about a year when it reaches the ‘Bin’ and get it at about $10 to $15.

  48. collar says:


    It’s funny, because I buy books from the UK because it’s cheaper than getting them in Australia at the moment (especially because ship to Aus for nothing). As you say, typical US price for a paperback is say $7 or $8 USD, and 6 – 7 pound in the UK, over here we are looking at $20 to $22 AUD. So for me to get a book from the UK costs me about $13 – $15 AUD at the moment which is cheaper than local by an amount that adds up when you buy a few books. The big thing is, because of the exchange rate we are paying pretty much $20 USD for standard paperbacks over here, I’m sure if that was the price in the US everyone over there would be mighty pissed off.

  49. Epizootic says:

    How do we cope with the ridiculous prices?
    Simple – eBay. Then we get the releases on time, and at a good price cos of the strong international aussie dollar.

  50. Nick says:

    Several years ago, I thought this might be a good business opportunity, I thought the games were overpriced, so I could sell them at a reduced price and make some money. I requested pricelists from several publishers and found out that the wholesale on games was AUD$65 – AUD$70, selling them at AUD$80 plus is the retailer’s only choice, the wholesale is just too high.

    I buy all my games and DVDs from now, their price with postage is almost always cheaper than retail here.

  51. tussock says:

    Heh. In NZ, new top-rank games cost near $140 when George W hit the white house, but your dollar has tanked since then and they’re now $70, give or take. Exchange rate’s gone from 40c then to about 75-80c now, so that’s about right. They should be charging $75 for a US$50 game with the local 12.5% GST, so we might even be getting them cheap.

    CD sales, OTOH, not so much. One might suggest the game industry has it’s head buried less deeply in the sand, or that the music industry has it’s head somewhere entirely different.

  52. Chargone says:

    actually, NZ dollars been going up a little bit over all too, last i looked [which, admitedly, was a while ago]

    you’re right about the drop in price for games though, Tussock. though i’m not sure i ever saw anything hit 140 :S they tended to top out around 120, that i ever saw.

    speaking of books… prices are all over the place, but those nice colour American comics? you’re paying about a dollar a page everywhere I’ve seen them [which admittedly isn’t many places]. the hard cover collections are better, but still pretty bad.

    manga, amusingly, [at least through fishpond. yay online store. which is also an NZ based store. heh] which mostly goes from japan, to the states, gets translated, flopped, shiped, etc etc etc…. costs 17-25 dollars. most paperback novels seem to have ended up in a 20-40 dollar range, DVD movies are Very often 20 a piece. hard cover novels will cost you 50+ though, and non fiction is, predictably, all over the place.

    this is a good thing though, as food and transport costs are going Up.. nice not to have to cut into the luxuries so much to compensate…

  53. ArchU says:

    I believe that by comparison the cost of living, on average, is cheaper in most parts of Australia than most parts of the US. It’s similar with fuel prices being somewhat lower (although not significantly, now) in the US than Australia. I have an inkling as well that wages for equivalent jobs between US and Australia pay differently – for instance, as an experienced but mid-level IT tech I’m getting around AUD$50k per year whereas the same job in Florida might pay around USD$30k.

    You win some, you lose some.

    Also, publishers base their software recommended retail prices on market expectations. For instance, Adobe Photoshop will fetch a smaller market in Australia but the necessity of the software to industry that needs it generates a higher price (roughly twice the cost of the US release). Would that I could purchase a US release at the current exchange rate it would be worth my while however Adobe doesn’t do business that way.

    I can’t say that I’m happy about it but it’s how things run.

    I should note that, from time to time, I’ve shopped at Games Warehouse ( and gotten some reasonable prices. I’m not sure about PC games but I know I can get PS2 games from at US prices, which works out nicely even after throwing in shipping costs from the US.

  54. TickledBlue says:

    Doesn’t the wholesale price of the products depend upon the distribution chain? PC games prices in Australia would only be impacted if we are supplied by the US. If I remember rightly our books mainly are either locally produced or come via UK/Europe so the US dollar has little impact (apart from the usual flow on impacts any change to a big currency has on the global market).

    Now I’m not sure of our supply chain here, but for consoles at least the games need to be region 4 encoded (another market control method that media companies use to create artificial price differentiation) and also work for our PAL TV’s – the US is region 1 and uses the NTSC format. So it is unlikely that they are supplied via the US, so changes to the US dollar will have little impact on those prices.

    But prices aren’t the only issue in Australia, thanks to the work of one man, the South Australian Attorney General Michael Atkinson we don’t have an R18 rating for games here – and as such Fallout 3 is ‘unrateable’ here and is effectively banned. Nice summary on Game Politics here:

  55. ZzzzSleep says:

    I realise that this thread is long dead, but I thought I’d just drop in here to say that a revised version of Fallout 3 has been cleared for release here in .au. Details can be found at

  56. Midget52 says:

    Given that this was posted over six months ago, im sure no one will ever read this comment. Ever.

    But i would like to thank you. I am glad that SOMEONE in the US has noticed something happening in Australia and hasn’t resorted to terrible stereotypical phrases that no one actually says and I won’t mention here.

    The reason games are withheld due to an inconsistent rating process. There is no R18+ rating, and games that rate abov MA15+ are effectively censored until they are changed, or until Hell freezes over. Whichever is first. So, the extra time is probably due to the content needing to be altered.

    The games rating system is broken. The only way to fix it is for every State and Territory Attorney-General to unanimously agree to change it. Thanks to ONE of them (Whom I will also not mention), this will not happen until he resigns, gets booted out, changes his mind (yeah, right) or dies. It is looking like a “Pry from my cold, dead hands” situation at the moment.

    So, any way, thanks for caring. G’day. (I hate myself)

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