European Commission Seeks to End Regional Pricing on Digital Purchases

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European Commission Seeks to End Regional Pricing on Digital Purchases

Steam Summer Sale 2015

The EC's Digital Single Market proposal would see prices for digitally purchased games unified across its 28 member states.

Regional pricing was one of those things that made sense back in the days of physical goods - as companies had to pay extra costs to physically ship things to foreign countries - but in the world of digital downloads it doesn't make a whole lot of sense. The European Commission has also seen the futility of regional pricing on digitally purchased video games, and with its new "Digital Single Market" proposal, aims to end it (at least across its 28 member states).

"The Digital Single Market initiative seeks to provide an unfettered European market for digital goods and services across all its 28 member states," the EC told MCV.

The proposal would mean that publishers must maintain a single price point across all of Europe, and would also not be able to limit services to certain regions.

"Simplified and modern rules for online and digital cross-border purchases will encourage more businesses to sell online across borders and further develop digital markets such as games," the commission added.

Dave Clark, head of marketing at indie games label Kiss, was one of many who supported the proposal, stating that "To suggest to the consumer that the cost of selling a digital product or a physical product sold via a digital outlet can vary from country to country is becoming ever more difficult to justify."

As an Australian, who has felt the sting of regional pricing ever since I started gaming, I only have good things to say about this proposal and really hope similar ones are put in place all over the world.

Source: MCV

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Regional pricing should be outright banned, punishable with billions of dollars in fines. It's ridiculous and discriminatory.
Hell even capcha can see how stupid it is:
Captcha- flat out
lol

But but not everyone in the EU uses the Euro, but but some EU members are far less developed.

Well, if they did I wonder how it would effect the eastern Europeans. You can all slander regional pricing but there are not many things equal in the EU when it comes to financial matters, RIP Greece.

All this will do is make Steam and all the like give everyone the prices they give Australia and New Zealand. Just watch.

mad825:
But but not everyone in the EU uses the Euro, but but some EU members are far less developed.

Well, if they did I wonder how it would effect the eastern Europeans. You can all slander regional pricing but there are not many things equal in the EU when it comes to financial matters, RIP Greece.

It's got nothing at all to do with the Euro, Regional pricing can theoretically, mean Germany pays more than Italy for the same product, regardless of currency. The exchange rate between two countries with different currencies, should determine the price is equal.

I'm on the high price side of the equation, but remember there are also those who benefit from lower regional prioces, they would lose out.

WickedBuddha:
All this will do is make Steam and all the like give everyone the prices they give Australia and New Zealand. Just watch.

Pretty much, but it is aimed at only Europe so it would mostly impact the price disparity between countries like Poland and Germany.

What'll happen? German consumers will pay 10% less, Polish consumers will end up paying 50% more because there's far more profitability out of the German market by comparison.

While I think it sucks how much more New Zealand and Australia pays for the product, especially because how small our markets are compared to US, I am fine with Russians paying lower than the US because folk in that country literally could not afford more. But how can you justify charging more in a country where the GDP per capita is LESS than the US? The very argument used for Russia should apply to AU/NZ and their prices should be lower.

I'm pretty sure that wages are generally higher in Australia and New Zealand, that's why everything costs more. thusly, wages in places like Russia are lower, so the games and the like are priced lower, otherwise they would be prohibitively expensive and people would just pirate.

WickedBuddha:
All this will do is make Steam and all the like give everyone the prices they give Australia and New Zealand. Just watch.

I have a terrible feeling that this is accurate. I often bemoan regional price differences, since Britain pays a fair bit on Steam, but I can only see publishers taking the chance to raise the prices further.

War_Dyn27:
I'm pretty sure that wages are generally higher in Australia and New Zealand, that's why everything costs more. thusly, wages in places like Russia are lower, so the games and the like are priced lower, otherwise they would be prohibitively expensive and people would just pirate.

I have a friend in NZ, and considering the exchange rate for currency, wages don't really seem any better there. Publishers just tend to be a bit dickish when it comes to pricing.
I'm looking at you, Kotick. You monster. I bet you eat baby soup for breakfast.

This not going to happen. Non Euro members are not going to take to take the hit for currency fluctuations and those in eastern europe are not going to want to pay German prices. Again those in the Euro in southern europe are not going to want to pay German prices. This is just same old commission grandstanding about deeper integration, which currently has even less public support than normal.

mad825:
But but not everyone in the EU uses the Euro, but but some EU members are far less developed.

Well, if they did I wonder how it would effect the eastern Europeans. You can all slander regional pricing but there are not many things equal in the EU when it comes to financial matters, RIP Greece.

Eastern European here. Only a couple games are cheaper here on steam and its always by maybe 1 or 2 Euro. Instead most games I can get cost the same but are the russian versions with very limited voice and gift options and with separate community hubs so I'm left out of most game discussions (thank you for that, zenimax).

So yeah, I welcome this change.

So, uh, you mean to tell me I, as a citizen of the Czech Republic, one of the less wealthy EU nations, have been paying German prices on Steam just because? New AAA releases were always 40-60 Euro and no one complained. I'm aware the prices are cheaper in Russia, but Russia is not a member of the EU so it won't affect those prices. This will change nothing, only now there will be a law as to why people with 1/3 the salary pay the same price for goods.

munx13:

mad825:
But but not everyone in the EU uses the Euro, but but some EU members are far less developed.

Well, if they did I wonder how it would effect the eastern Europeans. You can all slander regional pricing but there are not many things equal in the EU when it comes to financial matters, RIP Greece.

Eastern European here. Only a couple games are cheaper here on steam and its always by maybe 1 or 2 Euro. Instead most games I can get cost the same but are the russian versions with very limited voice and gift options and with separate community hubs so I'm left out of most game discussions (thank you for that, zenimax).

So yeah, I welcome this change.

Bulgarian here. We're the poorest country in the EU, by far. Our prices ARE the same as Germany. In fact, buying from a US-based retailer without regional pricing is usually a cheaper option than using Steam, because EU prices are higher than US prices.

The average net wage is about 2100 Euros in Austria, compared to about 1700 Euros in Italy or 830 Euros in Estonia. Currently, Steam seems to be using a 2 tier pricing system with Germany as reference for tier 1 and Italy as a reference for tier 2. That already looks like an incredibly crude system, and now the EC seeks to simplify it even more?

I don't know how thats not being unfair towards the consumers who are citizens of lower income countries, and thats coming from someone who could only profit from an end to regional pricing.

And what exactly would the benefits of equal prices even be?

"and would also not be able to limit services to certain regions."

What a good idea, so even if certain regions have laws that prohibit the service, heavily tax, regulates the service, they are forced to provide it, even if its at a lost to them.

Eastern European also here (Estonian).

We already pay same prices as rest of the Europe so it really doesn´t matter. But what matters is that before we often got Russian version of the game while paying full European price, meaning we could only play with Russians and often games were localized to Russian market meaning Russian language only, even though most of us don´t even speak russian. Or we are outright banned from buying that game because it is not available in this region. Considering us same region as Russia even though we are full members of European Union.

So i do think this is good thing they are trying to do if they also enforce publishers treat us really equally.

Steven Bogos:
The proposal would mean that publishers must maintain a single price point across all of Europe, and would also not be able to limit services to certain regions.

"Simplified and modern rules for online and digital cross-border purchases will encourage more businesses to sell online across borders and further develop digital markets such as games," the commission added.

This has me more concerned than the pricing. Does that mean we're going to be subject to the whims of the German ratings system?

What we need is the EU prices to be the same as the US prices. The US pay fuck all compared to people in Europe (UK at least) and it takes the piss.

How can a $10 game cost £10? it's utterly ridiculous.

Ugh. Just what we need... German prices and German censorship laws across all of Europe because the (non-elected, non-democratic) EC wants to force Ein Volk, Ein Union, Ein Euro?

It won't mean censorship. It will mean a unified price structure.

Not even sure how a unified price is supposed to be a good thing. It just means theyll charge more.

Also, i dont believe this is aimed specifically at Steam since its the publishers that set the prices, not Steam itself.

So, same as it always was then, but this time it's by EU mandate instead of Steam being cunts. Neat.

008Zulu:
It won't mean censorship. It will mean a unified price structure.

I am very much fearing that it will do just that. Germany, like Australia for the Anglophone world, is universally lauded for it´s quixotic moral crusade against violent games. That is because the Germans themselves believe in the Sondererweg - The theory that Germans are the only evil people on the planet, and must be preserved from bad influences.

Steven Bogos:
European Commission Seeks to End Regional Pricing on Digital Purchases

"The Digital Single Market initiative seeks to provide an unfettered European market for digital goods and services across all its 28 member states,"

"Simplified and modern rules for online and digital cross-border purchases will encourage more businesses to sell online across borders and further develop digital markets such as games," the commission added."

This quote could be interpreted to mean that those standards will be expanded across the rest of my world. I do not think that there will be a pan-EU ban on violent games. what is likelier that publishers will be forced to only sell one edition in the whole EU, and since none of the publishers wants to miss on the German market, we will all play the watered down sauerkraut editions.

How is it hard to justify regional pricing? There are gaps in wealth between countries. If everyone has to pay the same relative price they all have to pay a diffrent nominal price. It's really friggin simple.

And jeah, there are cases where it gets used wrongly, but that doesn't make the system inherently flawed on all levels. And alot of people in this thread already voiced the reasons multiple times already.

Steven Bogos:
Regional pricing was one of those things that made sense back in the days of physical goods - as companies had to pay extra costs to psychically ship things to foreign countries

Yeah those psychics are pretty high maintenance so I guess it justified the price differences:)

I don't see this as a bad thing tbh.Stuff in Ireland generally tends to be a bit more expensive than the UK so if this lowers prices even slightly then great(it probably won't though as they'll find some other way to screw us over)

Steven Bogos:
As an Australian, who has felt the sting of regional pricing ever since I started gaming, I only have good things to say about this proposal and really hope similar ones are put in place all over the world.

As a Russian, to whom regional pricing was a saving grace, I have nothing but bad things to say about such a hope, especially considering how our currency was struggling (to say the least) for the last year or so. There are two sides to this coin, you know.

By getting rid of regional pricing, they're not talking about making the EU region one region instead of N, they're talking about preventing game makers gouging the EU compared to the US.

If a game is 30 USD, it should be (subject to local taxes) 30 USD everywhere.

Regularly in australia a game will be 90-100 bucks when it is (adjusted for exchange rate) more fairly priced at 40-50.

So instead of some countries getting lower prices, every European country gets the maximum price? I don't see how any consumer benefits from this.

Wait, I didn't understand. Is this thing aimed for EU only or for whole digital distribution?

For those of you who don't really get why this is a 'thing' I'll point two examples in the context of steam. Publishers like Deep Silver and a few others had been pushing some eastern european countries, baltics, as part of the russian free trade zone region. There have been also rumored where those countries have been limited to accessing and trading steam codes within the russian region.

The second is a tier system wherein the EU was divided in two zones, there used to be three, with different prices. This did not mean that certain countries: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain or the Vatican City (We're sure the pope is happy), now including the baltics; got games for cheaper. It was quite common to pay full price or more for games and not have the random discounts that T1 had.

But this isn't really a directed towards games/steam, because gamers/gaming holds almost no political sway, but slightly more bastardly companies like Microsoft, Adobe.

mrverbal:
By getting rid of regional pricing, they're not talking about making the EU region one region instead of N, they're talking about preventing game makers gouging the EU compared to the US.

You are mistaken on that. The proposal would force companies to gouge the european trade union only as a single whole, companies will continue to do it even if it'll prevent the consumers of less wealthy EU countries to obtain it legally. Because they don't have money anyway so nobody cares.

erbkaiser:
Ugh. Just what we need... German prices and German censorship laws across all of Europe because the (non-elected, non-democratic) EC wants to force Ein Volk, Ein Union, Ein Euro?

That has little to do with it. Alterations for the german censors are legally a matter of localization, not service.

sites used: steamprices, steamunpowered.

sounds good but kinda wish it also had something about preventing additional profit being made over solid products (i.e. less costs in producing CD's, cases, manuals, etc)

I thought they changed prices to help stop piracy. Although that wouldn't explain why the Aussies are getting screwed all the time.

Is there anything to stop them from doing regional sales? <_< Cuz they could probably get around this by putting the prices all the same then offering "discounts" to certain regions occasionally.

RicoADF:
Regional pricing should be outright banned, punishable with billions of dollars in fines. It's ridiculous and discriminatory.
Hell even capcha can see how stupid it is:
Captcha- flat out
lol

No, it shouldn't. It should be regulated heavily.
Best example would be Germany and Poland. I buy games from Polish key reselling sites because the games are waaaaaaay overpriced for my region and the Polish prices are somewhat more reasonable, but even then overpriced.
If they regulated the regional prices in a way that makes sense (poorer regions have cheaper prices), it would be actually a good thing. You can't expect someone from my region to have the same shopping power as someone from Germany, Switzerland or Norway (yet my country is placed in the same pool as Germany on Steam). My country has a 10 times lower average salary, combined with the fact that the average salary is heavily inflated thanks to politicians having insane pay checks, a selected few earning almost everything while the rest is far below the average, yeah... I think you get the picture.

What the EU is trying to accomplish sound noble and good, but it's quite the opposite. Rather than Steam lowering the prices for every other region, it will just increase the prices for Poland and other cheaper regions, effectively killing the only legal source of video games for a lot of us.

Abomination:

What'll happen? German consumers will pay 10% less, Polish consumers will end up paying 50% more because there's far more profitability out of the German market by comparison.

Wishful thinking, I suspect we will find that the highest price across the block gets rolled out across the rest. Simply put, the profit margins involved would mean it would be more cost effective for platforms to effectively abandon poorer countries in order to maintain their profits in richer countries.

How this will play out in reality. Publishers will simply base the price off the highest region. Glad I'm not in the EU states. No matter what way that decision goes... there is some region that's gonna see their game prices jacked up. Never mind that one reason for higher regional prices is partially due to regional distribution agreements on physical copies. I.e standards caveat with regional distributors is that the publisher is not allowed to sell directly to the customer at a price lower than the given MSRP. In fact they are encouraged to sell just a little above that.

Many digital games are still sold with physical copies. And the physical retailers need some protection otherwise they really aren't going to bother taking on the risk of buying inventory. There's also the other simple fact that producing a game for some regions is simply more expensive than others, for example, germany has some interesting censorship laws that many other eu states don't have. Thusly the german version needs to be retouched which is a time/money cost. The solution would be to simply create a version that would pass the censorship of all the 28 eu states. Think about that and let it gel in your mind . Imagine what kind of version of say... Wolfenstein would pass snuff of all 28 eu states equally. And yeah that's what you're gonna get. If you thought you had censorship neutering stuff before oh brutha you ain't seen nothing yet.

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