Buying games from STEAM = ripoff?

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So I was looking for the price of Team Fortress 2.
I really wanted to buy the game so I resorted to STEAM.
I knew that you can buy games online on STEAM and I knew that Team Fotress 2 can be purchased online there.

So I looked on to the site, and I noticed this:

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30 bucks?
Well.. Maybe it's not that bad...

And then I started to ponder... if Team Fortress 2 costs $30, how much does the entire Orange Box cost? I looked on STEAM and I discovered this:

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50 bucks for the whole Orange Box?

Now why the heck would I pay $30 for Team Fortress 2 alone, when I can get the entire Orange Box for $50, right?

And then I was thinking... how much does the Orange Box really cost at my local retail store?

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299 Kr?! That is pretty much the equivalent of $30 US dollars if you compare how much the money is worth.

Then I started to ask myself, how much does STEAM charge for other games?
Well, it turns out that the prices they charge people for online pruchase is rediculous.

I could go on posting screenshots to prove my point, but I'd just do a table comparison.

I know a lot of people in here would never buy stuff at GameStop, but I'll just use it as a price comparison.

Mind you that these are all PC Games only and only new games. None are pre-used

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare

STEAM: $69.64
Gamestop: $49.99
My Local Retail Store: $45.99

Bioshock

STEAM: $54.95
Gamestop: $29.99
My Local Retail Store: $32.99
(thumbs up for Gamestop there)

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

STEAM: $22.95
Gamestop: $14.99
My Local Retail Store: $12.99

Sid Meier's Civilization IV

STEAM: $29.95
Gamestop: Could not find Civ IV. However, found Civ IV: Gold Edition for $39.99 (contains game + expansion pack)

My Local Retail Store: $9.99!

To finally add insult to injury to all of this, I looked at what STEAM charges for Valves own games. You'd think that since STEAM is Valve, and Valve selling their own product it would lead to that they would be the leading seller of their own franchaise, right?

Half Life 2
STEAM: $19.95
Gamestop: $20 (found it used for $12)
My Local Retail Store: Could not find HL2 standalone. Found however Half Life 2 - Holiday Collection which contains HL1, HL2 *AND* Episode 1 for a whooping $12.95!

My thoughts:

WHAT THE HELL? Isn't purchasing software online supposed to be cutting off the price of it by cutting out the middle man such as distributors and sales retailing? Isn't purchasing the game without the disc, without the box and without the manual supposed to severly cut down the price of the game? There is just really no excuse, NO EXCUSE for STEAM to charge this kind of money for games online.
While I do have an understanding that selling games online is a new thing and that on emphesis they have to have the earnings to go around with their expenses for it charging up to $25 extra what the retail game costs at your local retail store is just the worst.

Is this really what they have in mind for stopping PC game piracy? Is this what's supposed to help the declining sales of computer games and save game developers the money they deserve? By ripping people off this way?

Your thoughts?

It's the price you pay for convenience, I suppose. No CDs to keep up with, and if you get a new HDD you can just recover everything tied to your account. Personally, I never noticed the price jacks (it doesn't seem as bad where I live; the prices seem the same in most stores)

If it really bothers you, buy the hard copies; most STEAM games come with the STEAM activation codes anyways.

That would be a good point if you forget that the exchange rate comes into play. For me, I bought the Orange Box from Steam and it cost me something like 27 Pounds Sterling, now that's quite a lot less than it's being sold for in shops, at least where I live.

Then again it changes depending on your country and currency, luckily for me prices on Steam are cut roughly in half when they come out of my bank account.

I don't believe Steam are over-charging at all anyway, you should probably get an American's point of view, considering Steam is in that currency (at least I think?), so it's going to be different around the world.

300 sek is about 50$. Dollars are cheaper now than it has been for about 15 years...

You list COD4 as being 45.99 at your local store, assuming your using Webhallen you are incorrect the price in SEK is actually 75.34$ (5.96 exchange rate currently). I think you'll find that if you actually look at the exchange rate that Steam is very competitivly priced (which is their business model).

That said, Steam is a service, a service you do not have to use if you do not want to. The price is as it is because thats what the market has decided that the game is worth.

You will also notice on Steam a great number of very low priced titles as well, some that are difficult if not impossible to find in retail now. There is after all little or no qualitative difference between the Steam version of games and the retail versions (other than the hard media).

Hard media (CD's and DVDs) are becoming a bit rare, the selection of PC titles in retail is right now smaller than it was back in 1996 (shelf space), go to the EB in Skärholmen or Fältöversten if you don't believe me.

-Gooney

For those Steam prices you also need to add tax. However what I find with Steam is that for new releases the prices are really reasonable, they just don't drop those prices as quickly as other outlets once the game has been out a while.

Edit: You also need to keep an eye out for the weekend deals where they have stuff like Prey for $5. Another thing is you tend to get a lot more for your money if you buy the group packs, talking like 33%-50% off.

PaintChips:
It's the price you pay for convenience, I suppose. No CDs to keep up with, and if you get a new HDD you can just recover everything tied to your account.

From a backup perspectivem even buying game sonline from STEAM is terrible from that viewpoint.
If you got a new HDD you will have to re-download the whole game from STEAM servers.
Mind you that Call of Duty 4 for instance is 6 gigs. The entire Orange Box is 20 gigs!
If your HDD crashes and you want to recover everything you will have to re-download the whole thing. Having the game disc in that case is an obious advantage since the read speed of your Optical Drive will surpass the download speed by the factor of a thosuand.

PaintChips:
Personally, I never noticed the price jacks (it doesn't seem as bad where I live; the prices seem the same in most stores)

These prices I displayed are prices I found on local retail stores. You could probably find it for a heck-of-a-lot more cheaper if you look into discount bins.

True OneHP, thats because unlike retail they do not have to clear up shelf space to make room for new merchandise, a constant problem for game retailers.

-Gooney

CyberAkuma:

From a backup perspectivem even buying game sonline from STEAM is terrible from that viewpoint.
If you got a new HDD you will have to re-download the whole game from STEAM servers.
Mind you that Call of Duty 4 for instance is 6 gigs. The entire Orange Box is 20 gigs!
If your HDD crashes and you want to recover everything you will have to re-download the whole thing. Having the game disc in that case is an obious advantage since the read speed of your Optical Drive will surpass the download speed by the factor of a thosuand.

Ever lost a disk? I know I have.

CyberAkuma:
From a backup perspectivem even buying game sonline from STEAM is terrible from that viewpoint.
If you got a new HDD you will have to re-download the whole game from STEAM servers.
Mind you that Call of Duty 4 for instance is 6 gigs. The entire Orange Box is 20 gigs!
If your HDD crashes and you want to recover everything you will have to re-download the whole thing. Having the game disc in that case is an obious advantage since the read speed of your Optical Drive will surpass the download speed by the factor of a thosuand.

And if the disc is lost, or irreparably damaged? You're SOL then, aren't you. That was my point. EDIT: Gremlin beat me to it :)

And as to the prices, again, I notice no diference between the prices I see on STEAM, and the prices I've seen in local retail stores.

The primary problem you're referencing is that Valve has little control over the prices of the content being provided by other developers/publishers, and the developers/publishers aren't incentivized to lower their prices. Brick and mortar retailers have a strong reason to start discounting games - they take up space that could be used for other games. It would be nice if Valve exerted more pressure to keep Steam prices in line with retail, but I don't think they have the power. Some developers would just take their ball and go home.

As for Valve products, I think you'd find that their prices generally match up with the MSRP. Per your example:

Orange Box PC
Steam: $49.95
GameStop.com: $49.99
BestBuy.com: $49.99
Amazon.com: $47.99

(Team Fortress sans Orange Box is $30 retail as well - the prices match, even if you disagree with the concept)

Sure, being outside the US you might find it better to shop locally, but online retailers generally aren't going to charge different amounts to different locales for the same product. Especially if they're based in the US. Retail, on the other hand, often has different SKU's for different locales, at different prices, to reflect the local cost of living. (Resulting in incidents like blocking cheaper import versions from activating in the US)

Personally, I'd be willing to pay a few bucks more for the convenience of Steam. It frees me of the need to keep a stack of PC game boxes around to dig up the game CDs every time I want to install/play a game, and Steam helpfully handles all the patching and updating without needing my input. It's especially nice in that I can install games on my office PC as needed - just in case an office Team Fortress battle needs to break out.

It's also great for buying a game at 11pm on Sunday.

Wrong, wrong, wrong. I'm Norwegian too. The Orange Box costs 55 DOLLARS. So in Norwegian kroners that is about 275. And you don't even have to step out of your house. Backups? Burn a DVD.
And I would bet COD4 is 450 kroners at your store. Thats 90 US dollars! Not 45 dollars! Check your facts next time.

It's a different currency. That means it's worth something else to us. So you can't just divide the currency by 10. If someone comes from the US to get our "cheap" games he'll have to pay a fortune!

SeizureMan:

And I would bet COD4 is 450 kroners at your store. Thats 90 US dollars! Not 45 dollars! Check your facts next time.

449 sek / 5.96 = 75.34

http://www.webhallen.com/prod.php?id=75603 449 sek
5.962 exchange rate today from forex http://www.forex.se/

richasr:

Then again it changes depending on your country and currency, luckily for me prices on Steam are cut roughly in half when they come out of my bank account.

This :)

I think $70 seems like a lot for CoD4, I don't know what games usually go for in the US but that one always seemed high. But I'm not too fussed because as Richasr said I pay roughly half the Steam price.
Got TF2 for £15, which is cheaper than I can get it here, plus no CD's to lose or anything :P

CoD4 costs $49.95 U.S. dollars on Steam, about how much it costs in retail still.

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The Orange Box only cost me £25 from Sainsburies. As for someone saying buying from steam gives you convenience of not having a CD in my personal opinion thats wrong.

When i buy something i like to have a solid copy of it, something to show for my money, something that goes into my collection. Would anyone here actually pay retail price for a movie download? When you could simply torrent it.

Dont get me wrong i download loads of things, i also hundreds of pounds worth of pc games and thousands of pounds worth of dvds.

Urm did i get a little off topic there sorry.

JinxyKatte:
The Orange Box only cost me £25 from Sainsburies. As for someone saying buying from steam gives you convenience of not having a CD in my personal opinion thats wrong.

When i buy something i like to have a solid copy of it, something to show for my money, something that goes into my collection. Would anyone here actually pay retail price for a movie download? When you could simply torrent it.

Dont get me wrong i download loads of things, i also hundreds of pounds worth of pc games and thousands of pounds worth of dvds.

Urm did i get a little off topic there sorry.

There's a major difference between a console game and a PC game though. Consoles require you to have the medium to play regardless of format. PC games do not. In fact, one of the biggest reasons people go out and rebuy PC games is because they are insanely hard to keep track of. PC games, for some reason, have obnoxiously large boxes. I don't know about you, but I don't have enough room for all those cases.

To further this, the majority of PC games have CD keys that are required for you to play online. Sometimes the instruction books have them, sometimes the cases have them... all depends. This means you HAVE to keep those cases around somewhere 'just in case' you have to reinstall your game.

This is a lot of clutter, especially for me. In fact, I have two 200 page CD holders filled with games and their CD-Keys. This doesn't take much room, but I still don't have the niceness of having all the cases. That, coupled with the fact that some PC games don't actually have cases (just a box with CD sleeves) makes this incredibly annoying as you either have to do what I did or keep the box.

Downloadable media means you don't have the clutter. It also means you don't have to keep track of CD keys... which is the biggest pain in the ass ever. Lose an instruction book while moving? Looks like you can't play your favorite game online anymore.

This isn't an issue with consoles or movies, this is why owning them is fine.

There are other bonuses to downloading your games online, such as usually being able to play them before others, cheaper prices some of the time, unique content (usually MMO's), amongst other things.

I would NEVER want to download a console game unless, somehow, it was tied to an account of mine like how it is done with Steam.

Movies are completely different though. Movies don't go through the same wear and tear that games do. They are also much cheaper than games are. Accidentally scratch a brand new game making it unplayable? Looks like your forking over another $40-50 (U.S.) for another. Scratch a new movie making it unwatchable? Looks like your forking over another $15-20 (U.S.) for another.

Downloaded games for PC is much more convenient than going to the store, especially now that the majority of games aren't being sold at stores at all.

Isn't there an option in steam to backup the files on a CD? I swear I saw that somewhere once, but I'm not on my own comp to check it again... and I know for a fact a week ago CoD4 was $69.99, they probably dropped the price recently.

I don't believe your taking into account the TAX on the games steam doesn't have tax on its games so 49.95 for COD-4 (thats the real price) is all that you're paying however... the local store and gamestop prices you haven't included tax... so all in all its a great deal to buy from steam.

Credge:
CoD4 costs $49.95 U.S. dollars on Steam, about how much it costs in retail still.

Uhm. On my STEAM it says $69.95
See for yourself

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Can it be regional differences on STEAM?

They certainly charge what they want on Steam. But, it`s a free market - buy from where you will. Dissatisfied with one price, seek out another from another retailer. Worst come to worst, don`t buy the game until the price drops (worked with me on Bioshock for PC - I`d rate the game as $30 excellent, rather than $50 excellent.)

Re: Original Post...

Locally here, Orange Box is $50 on the shelf. They just released TF2, Portal, and Ep1/Ep2 as single packages.

Team Fortress 2 - $30
Portal - $20
Episode 1+2 - $30

So buy any 2, its the same as having forked over for the Orange Box. That's Valve's plan, their online prices being the same.

You all have good points. I sway to hard copies and downloading from steam. The prices on steam compared to stores around me are hardly different. If you do get a hard copy from a store you can register it onto steam with the cdkey. one thing i dislike is that Some games I dont want patched which steam does automatically. steams version of Doom 3, GTA:SA, Supreme Commander and others don't work with third party mods.so many pros and cons.

Regional variation for the win (or loss, depending).

Here in the UK, with the exception of CoD4, Steam is exceptional value in relation to new titles. CoD4 has regional pricing - I believe it is $50 in North America and $70 in Europe. So far this is the only time I have come across a new game that cost more on Steam than in the shops, and this is down to Activision, not Valve.

And the various people above me are correct, Steam games can be easily backed up, either to hard drive or optical media. Any time I want to uninstall a Steam game I just 'backup local files' or whatever the option is, then burn the resultant files to blank dvd.

Ultimately it's personal choice, but I love it - and I only have a half meg internet connection.

For me it's cheap. For example: Portal.
Steam: $19.99 (£10)
My friendly neighbourhood gamestation: £19.99 ($40).

richasr:
you should probably get an American's point of view...

i believe the real American point of view would be "i need this money for gas so i won't be getting expensive game"

I've compared your prices to what I can find, and I SERIOUSLY doubt some of them can be true. The $ rates are as low as they've been in quite a while. I can't actually remember the last time $1 was less than 5 NOK.

So no, I don't think buying games from steam is a ripoff. Even if none of the other arguments stood (convenience, etc), a lot of games are quite a lot cheaper on Steam than retail.

Credge:
CoD4 costs $49.95 U.S. dollars on Steam, about how much it costs in retail still.

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where are you?

it's 69.95 in the UK (bloody rip-off Britain!)

Steam probably rocks for me as I'm in the UK and it's £1 to ~2$ right now. That being said, I don't have any money to buy anything.

1. 299 SEK = 51 USD.
2. Yes, buying items in packages lowers the price per item. Isn't it like real life?
Fair enough, there are some games that are more expensive on Steam than in real life (or game stop, the HL2 package isn't cheaper than HL2 standalone from Steam btw). The nice thing about buying through Steam is that even if you lose the disc or manual (which contains the precious key that can be used online).. you'll still have your games. If you don't want to buy games through steam.. suit yourself.

mrjunk:

where are you?

it's 69.95 in the UK (bloody rip-off Britain!)

no its not a rip off...because that isnt a pound sign next to that price, its a dollar. it costs roughly 35 pounds in the UK if ya order it via steam (i know this because i did)

culade:

richasr:
you should probably get an American's point of view...

i believe the real American point of view would be "i need this money for gas so i won't be getting expensive game"

Actually a "stereotypical" P.O.V would be something like "lol...a country other than United States.Man this is fucked up!Are they some primitive tribes?".

That's exactly why they charge so much."If they ride horses/kangaroos, why not rip them off too?"

PS: Oh and before Yanks will start flaming me, it's a joke...well most of it.

AAA titles on the PC here cost upwards of RS$ 100, which right now is somewhat more than $50. So yes, for me at least, Steam games are reasonably priced, if not quite as cheap as I would like. Although this is only true for some games - some games aren't available everywhere, and some games have "regional pricing," which is indeed a major ripoff. We should appreciate the fact that Valve doesn't do that, and that Valve games on Steam are the same price and available everywhere.

It really depends on where you live, you can't make the blanket statement that games on Steam are "a ripoff." Particularly because sometimes they're the only way of (legally) getting some games (Excluding Ebay), and titles who've dropped off the back catalogs go for $5 or even less. Indie games also tend to be rather cheaper.

Removed.

PREY was released on the European market for a fiver. Only for a weekend, but it was still a good deal.

You may complain if you're from the states but trust me, in Australia Steam is a god send. Fuck paying $100 for new release games. Jump on steam and get them for <$50 and get them when they should be released, not when the gaming gods decide that we've waited the arbitrary few weeks or months for a release down under. The only overpriced game on there is COD4 which after selling extremely well at $45 all of a sudden jumped up to $88.50 making it by far the most expensive game on steam, and the only (new) game that is more expensive on steam than in a store (most have it for ~$60 retail). I say new because obviously if you shop around the bargain bins enough you're going to find copies of older games for bargain prices.

Oh and Ilvez, yes you can backup your steam library to discs. Go to File/Backup Games.

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