Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Next-gen pricing: European extortion

It’s not uncommon to see higher prices in Europe compared to the United States. This is fairly standard in most areas due to higher import/export costs and higher tax rates. Video games are no exception to the rule and routinely can be at least $10-$15 more per title. Console costs are usually higher as well, but these are relatively slim numbers for the most part, in the area of $30-$40 USD. With the announcement of the next-gen console pricing, the minor gap in price has become a gigantic chasm of which most gamers will likely balk at diving into.

Revealed yesterday, the Xbox One and PS4 have been priced at $499 and $399 respectively in the US. Viewers were pleased to see the PS4 pricing and hope that the Xbox One lowers theirs to compete. However, across the pond in Europe, things are not going as smoothly. The cost of X1 and PS4 over there is €499/£429 and €399/£350. That’s an increase of $160 USD for the X1 and $125 for Playstation. The outrage certainly is there, but where are the reports of it? Are people merely fuming in the comfort of their living room, or are gamers planning boycotts and riots?

The price gouging of these developers is beyond extreme. You’re talking easily the cost of 2-3 games or possibly a high end gaming headset just to get the console. Why is it higher? Does it include extra content? More hardware? Does it ship with a couple of free games or a larger HDD? A jump in price by this magnitude requires some clarification and transparency. There is no discernible reasoning for this large increase and it hurts the already fragile reputations these console makers have.

While the largest population (if considering individual countries) of console buyers is in the United States, the combined countries around the world offer just as much of a market to gamers. Charging those gamers roughly 20-25% more than their American counterparts is absurd.

While it certainly is true that all of the extra costs required just to get the consoles over there, the idea that we are dealing with $150 more in charges is ridiculous. Video games exceed almost any other market in the world for price inflation between countries and it only seems to be going up. Previously, games in the UK might go for $65 or $70 instead of $60. Recently, there were standard titles for $100, showing an even larger jump.

The responses on this announcement have been fairly divided. Some have accepted it as part of the norm and will be buying whatever console they want. Others have been in a state of panic. And even others have been up in arms, discussing how to boycott the purchase of consoles.

“All I want to know is why I get charged more than US”

“My feelings are…….What else is new? I paid $100 for my GOWJ, it’s always been like this. I don’t like it, but taxes and [expletive]….”

One person who asked to remain anonymous remarked that they plan on staging protests at video game retailers to demand a change in pricing.

It’s unbelievable in this day and era that video games cannot be distributed globally without requiring this level of extortion. And that’s what it really is. Extortion. Either pay up or you won’t be getting anything. All we need now is a protection racket brought up for our current generation consoles.

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