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Published on December 12th, 2013 | by Gary Mullen

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Blog: The State Of Digital Vs Retail Pricing

There has been a lot of complaints over the recent days regarding MS and Sony pricing on digital software. Microsoft have now increased the prices of there digital games to £50 in the UK (which is about the same as the shop price the now) while Sony are in a similar situation with PSN prices almost the same RRP. Gamers are not happy.

This has caused a lot of people to jump on the bandwagon saying that this is wrong. That big companies shouldn’t be charging this much and they’re just in it for quick earn. But have they ever stopped to wonder what the real answer is?

Could it be more about helping out the retailers who in turn advertise there products to the market? How much of a plus is the physical market to Sony and Microsoft?

Next time you are in your local high street take a walk into your local Game or similar store and compare the Xbox One/ PS4 section next to the PC section (if there is a PC section at all)! Now ask yourself why this is the case? Has PC gaming become such a non-event compared to consoles that we no longer need stock of games, or has Valve’s Steam taken over the market?

The harshness of the price point on physical games means Game and such cannot compete with PC digital distributor Steam. Stores have too many overheads (renting a shop, moving stock and hiring staff) compared to Steam who basically just need servers and bandwidth. Tes supermarkets can sometimes go head to head with these low prices but this comes at a cost. Asda and Tesco have sold many gaming products at a loss to get you into the store in the hope you buy other things however gaming shops don’t have this option as they sell …well games.

Some of you will say you don’t care if the high street/Gaming shops die and want a full digital market as it’s cheaper for you, however how many of you went to pick up you Xbox One or Playstation 4 at midnight at a local gaming store? If the physical market for gaming dies then how do you expect to get your next console? Truth is you need to sit and wait on the postman bringing your order.

I know what you are thinking, gaming shops may vanish but you just turn round and say “I can just go to the supermarket”. I would argue the reduce demand for physical products (i.e. less shops – as the shops can only hold so many at a time) would push the price of the goods up higher and become not worth the hassle for the big supermarkets who may one day end up digital only if the rest of the high street goes too!

What do you think? Do you prefer buying digital for price or convenience instead or venturing out to queue in the cold at midnight for the latest releases? What about second hand? With the dropping of “passes”, do you prefer buying from online retailers?

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About the Author

Gary Mullen is an avid gamer from the days of C64 up to the latest generation of consoles/computers, for him the most important part of a game is the plot and storyline that drag you in and where you can't stop playing the game till the ending however the exception for the rule is his love of tycoon style games where he has spent far too many hours building his perfect theme park/water park/hospital/prison and so on! He has studied and currently works in the IT support industry with a wide range of IT technology exposure.



One Response to Blog: The State Of Digital Vs Retail Pricing

  1. James Hart says:

    Being a PC only guy now, I don’t miss physical media at all that I had when I had my consoles (and the old days of PC). Yes, there is no sell on option, but that is totally offset with the incredible offers. To pick some examples, I had Skyrim for £7, Borderlands 2 for £5 and before launch, I had Bioshock Infinite and Tomb Raider for less than £20.

    Although PC is now generally mainly digital, that hasn’t caused prices to shoot up as some might expect. Yeah, at launch, services like Steam charge full price, but you usually get at least 1 other that has an offer and there are numerous very good quality digital distributors now, so competition is good.

    This is the problem with consoles, they are closed platforms where Microsoft and Sony totally dictate what happens. That’s why you get bonkers prices like £50 for new games, or £30 for a game that’s already been out a year or two. Digital will bring about huge ease of use on them like it has on PC, but to have fair pricing is nothing but a dream in my opinion, as monopolies are never good for any industry.

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