It’s that ‘Gouge the UK’ time of the year again

Apparently games in the UK are due to get a price hike this Christmas. I can’t see this going down well, £50 is a huge amount to pay for a game where an equivalent would have been £40 last year. And to add insult to injury, although they’re happy to put prices up when the pound is weak, we didn’t see them rushing to lower prices back when the pound was strong.

Either way, we lose.

As a PC gamer, none of this affects me overly (yet). MMOs seem like comparatively better value than ever, and there are plenty of good indie/ downloadable games to keep a player occupied while waiting for the prices of the new releases to come down after the first couple of months. (I blame RPS for turning me on to Bookworm Adventures which is my latest timewaster of choice. It’s like a scrabble RPG!)

I’ll be curious to see how these price rises affect sales. Or in technical terms, what’s the price elasticity of games for hardcore gamers in the UK these days? We’ve been hit as hard by the recession as anyone.

Interestingly, EA responded to Activision’s price rises (which will no doubt include Diablo III and Starcraft II, if anyone hadn’t twigged yet) with a thunderous,

“There has been no change in our trade pricing policy and there will be no change in RRP.

It will be interesting to look at the sales charts next January and see who made the smartest call.

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6 thoughts on “It’s that ‘Gouge the UK’ time of the year again

  1. Modern Warfare 2 is a bit of a special case. They could probably charge £100 for it and still sell millions of copies. I’m not sure if Activision can afford to be so brave with all of their releases.

    I have a slightly different take on this as a Brit living in the Netherlands, where a typical PC game RRP is €50 (~£43). Indeed, I can shop on Amazon UK, pay the extra postage, and still come out with a big saving.

    I’m sure this kind of cross-channel trade is a big concern for publishers. Not only are they earning less for each UK sale due to the weak pound, but that is also driving down profits in continental territories.

    Of course, I’d prefer to see them reduce the Euro RRP for games in order to deter such trade, but let’s be realistic here :)

  2. Oh sigh. Rule Britannia.

    I still remember when games were £30 *grumble grumble wheelie shopping trolly kids on lawn grumble grumble*.

    Of course the more they hike game prices, the more MMOs seem like a sound investment. I didn’t play WoW for a long time because I was afraid, well, that I’d lose my entire life to it and also paying out £8 a month to play a game seemed, in some peculiar way, outrageous.

    The ironic thing is that WoW actually *saves me money* these days, because I play other games much much less and they are way more expensive to buy.

    With a single player game costing £50, that’s half a year of WoW!

  3. I don’t mind paying top whack for a good game; what I do mind is that the ‘price-fixing’ includes all sorts of cheap tosh that isn’t worth a tenner.

    The high price of console games will merely keep me playing mmorgs; I think Wizard 101 cost me £30 for a year’s subscription.

  4. It’s all about greed. The gaming industry has been doing very well recently and making a lot of cash – publishers are just using the recession as an excuse to hike prices and make more profit.

    The exchange rate excuse is also bollocks too, otherwise we would have being seeing new PS3 games sell for £30 two years ago when the pound was strong.

    I get very annoyed about stuff like this because the UK has always paid over the odds for games, DVDs and electonrics in general. Publishers just milk us for the cash cows we are.

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