October 07, 2016
The big games rip-off
I am talking a lot with my US colleagues and friends about games. We are also talking a lot about game prices, special deals and upcoming sales. Every time that topic comes up, it astonishes me how much we pay for games in Germany. I don’t know why, but game prices do not budge at all, no special deals and no sales. Even though in the US special deals are very common and game sales are quite often. Some examples:
Uncharted 4 was released in May 2016 and was well received. In the US it was on sale during the summer, multiple times. Again on the US Playstation Store and on Amazon.com. It’s also quite common to get an even better deal in most of the local US retail stores like Best Buy.
And over in Germany? No special deals, no sale in sight. The prices are pretty much the same, all year long. For example on Amazon.de:
High prices not only on Amazon, same picture for the DE Playstation Store or local DE retail stores. We rarely see any game sales – if there are any at all. And Amazon Prime Games, a 20% price reduction for pre-orders and new games, is not available in Germany.
Mafia 3 gets released tomorrow, and it’s the same pattern all over again. While the PS4 version costs 69,99 € in the DE Playstation Store, the boxed version costs 58,99 € on Amazon.de. The Steam Code for PC is sold for 49,99 €. If you want the boxed PC version is available for 45,00 €.
It is a total mystery to me why the physical copy, although more expensive due to physical medium, box and shipping, costs less than the Digital Download in the Playstation Online Store. Also the prices for XBox One and PS4 are higher than the one for PC. Why? It is the same game, just a different platform!
In the US it is one price for all platforms:
While it seems expensive at first, one can use Amazon Prime or Best Buy Gamers Club Unlocked to get a 20% discount right from the start. It is also a given that there will be a Halloween sale, a Black Friday sale on Thanksgiving and last but not least a Christmas sale where you will be able to get all kinds of deals and rebates. The big local retail chains will do everything to be cheaper than the online retailers and vice versa.
A different picture in the UK. If we look at Amazon.co.uk, the boxed version costs 39,99 £ for all platforms and 32,99 £ for the Steam Code. With the current GBP/EUR conversation rate, definitely the preferred place to buy from:
Maybe someone can tell me the reason for these huge regional differences? There seems to be no apparent reason. It is 2016, the Internet is available and for the Digital Version it doesn’t matter if your customer is located in the US, Germany, France or the UK. The infrastructure is required anyway, either for the Playstation Network, Xbox Live or Steam.
Also what is the reason for this “price stability” in Germany? Why is there no fluctuation, no sales and no special deals? And why is it “accepted” to pay such a high price for for digital downloads? I have no clue, to be honest. Would love to hear some thoughts and ideas in the comment section.