Steam report card: 2009

One year on, things have gotten worse on Steam. While there's more publishers, there's even more discrepancies in pricing and availability between the US and Australia.

Last year I penned a piece complaining, by and large, about price discrepancies and game availabilities on Steam.

Since then a lot has happened: EA joined Steam internationally; Ubisoft and THQ expanded their catalogues beyond the US and UK; payment via Euro was introduced for Europe; weekend sales were introduced, offering hugely discounted prices on chosen games for a specific weekend only. If you want a measure of how good an idea the weekend sales are, I now own 83 games on Steam. Prior to last Christmas, I owned only six, courtesy of The Orange Box.

However, despite these improvements, it seems the gap between international prices and available titles has widened. Europeans forced onto the Euro system, for example, are highly annoyed that Steam treats €1 as US$1 (local pricing discrepancies aside).

A sneaky change most may not notice since last year is the amount of cents at the end of the purchase price of the game. If you look at last year's article , all prices ended in 95 cents. They now end in 99 — a small difference for you and me, but vast volumes of profit for popular games.

This year, 30 titles are more expensive in Australia than the US, five times as many as last year. Sega and Electronic Arts are the worst offenders here, although Activision deserves a special badge of shame for still having Call of Duty 4 overpriced a year later, selling Quantum of Solace for 2.5 times and Soldier of Fortune: Payback for 1.8 times the price of the US version.

Curiously, there are also 10 games cheaper in Australia this year than the US, with THQ offering nine of them. Considering it is responsible for three overpriced games, I'm not sure exactly what economics it's following.

The worst growth by far has been in games not available in Australia, which has more than doubled since last year. 2K Games and Rockstar have made the least effort here, although Rockstar still possibly has an exemption thanks to its classification issues in the country. Still, you'd figure if Steam can handle localised pricing, it can handle localised files as well.

Sega is a serial offender in this category, but the big non-participation prize has to go to Ubisoft, with a whopping 25 titles not available in Australia through Steam.

If you're fed up with getting the short end of the stick, there's a few things you can do. For a start, Steam's competitor services are really picking up, ahem, steam. Check out GameTap (now available in Australia on a subscription or pay-to-own basis, and currently offering 36 games for free), Good Old Games and Impulse as alternatives.

If you want to impact on Steam itself, join the Rest of World group, and then contact your local publishers and ask them why Australians are treated as second-rate citizens.

Overpriced games in Australia (Last year: 6 | This year: 30)

 Unresolved pricing/locale discrepancy since last year

Publisher Title Price in US (US$) Price in AU (US$)
Activision Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare $39.99 $49.99
Activision Quantum of Solace $19.99 $49.99
Activision Soldier of Fortune: Payback $29.99 $54.99
Bethesda Softworks Fallout 3 $49.99 $69.99
Electronic Arts BattleForge $29.99 $49.99
Electronic Arts Command and Conquer: Red Alert 3 $29.99 $49.99
Electronic Arts Dead Space $29.99 $49.99
Electronic Arts FIFA Manager 09 $29.99 $39.99
Electronic Arts Mass Effect $19.99 $29.99
Electronic Arts Mirror's Edge $19.99 $49.99
Electronic Arts Need for Speed Undercover $29.99 $39.99
Electronic Arts SPORE $39.99 $49.99
Electronic Arts SPORE + SPORE Creepy and Cute Parts Pack $59.98 $69.98
PopCap Games Inc Plants vs. Zombies $9.99 $19.99
Sega Empire: Total War $49.99 $59.99
Sega Empire: Total War Elite Units $69.99 $79.99
Sega Empire: Total War Special Forces Edition $69.99 $79.99
Sega Football Manager 2009 (Known in the US as Worldwide Soccer Manager) $29.99 $49.99
Sega Medieval II: Total War (US gets separate game, Australia must buy Total War Mega Pack) $19.99 $79.99
Sega Medieval II: Total War Kingdoms (US gets separate game, Australia must buy Total War Mega Pack) $14.99 $79.99
Sega Rome: Total War – Alexander (US gets separate game, Australia must buy Total War Mega Pack) $9.99 $79.99
Sega Stormrise $49.99 $59.99
Southpeak Games Velvet Assassin $49.99 $59.99
Square Enix The Last Remnant $39.99 $49.99
THQ Saints Row 2 $29.99 $49.99
THQ Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War – Gold Edition $19.99 $29.99
THQ Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II $49.99 $59.99
Ubisoft Far Cry 2 $29.99 $49.99
Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment Wanted: Weapons of Fate $49.99 $64.99
Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment F.E.A.R.2: Project Origin $49.99 $59.99

Games that are cheaper in Australia (Last year: 0 | This year: 10)

Publisher Title Price in US (US$) Price in AU (US$)
Sega Total War Mega Pack $89.99 $79.99
THQ Company of Heroes $19.99 $14.99
THQ Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts $19.99 $14.99
THQ Frontlines: Fuel of War $29.99 $14.99
THQ Juiced 2: Hot Import Nights $19.99 $14.99
THQ S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl $19.99 $14.99
THQ Titan Quest $19.99 $14.99
THQ Titan Quest – Immortal Throne $19.99 $14.99
THQ Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War – Dark Crusade $19.99 $14.99
THQ Warhammer 40K: Dawn of War – Soulstorm $29.99 $19.99

Games not available in Australia (Last year: 44 | This year: 90)

 Unresolved pricing/locale discrepancy since last year

Publisher Title Price (US$)
2K Games 2K Sports Baseball Pack $39.99
2K Games CivCity: Rome $19.99
2K Games Civilization IV: Warlords $9.99
2K Games Civilization IV: Beyond the Sword $19.99
2K Games Major League Baseball 2K9 $19.99
2K Games MLB Front Office Manager $29.99
2K Games Prey $14.99
2K Games Railroad Tycoon 3 $4.99
2K Games Railroad Tycoon II Platinum $4.99
2K Games Railroad Tycoon Collection $24.99
2K Games Shattered Union $9.99
2K Games Sid Meier's Civilization IV: Colonization $29.99
2K Games Sid Meier's Civilization III Complete $4.99
2K Games Sid Meier's Civilization IV $19.99
2K Games Sid Meier's Civilization IV – The Complete Edition $39.99
2K Games Sid Meier's Pirates! $9.99
2K Games Sid Meier's Railroads! $19.99
Atari Act of War: Direct Action $19.99
Atari Act of War: High Treason $19.99
Atari ArmA: Combat Operations $19.99
Atari Atari 80 Classics in One $14.99
Atari Codename Panzers – Cold War $39.99
Atari Death to Spies $19.99
Atari Desperados 2: Cooper's Revenge $19.99
Atari Indigo Prophecy $9.99
Atari Rollercoaster Tycoon 3: Platinum $29.99
Atari The Witcher: Enhanced Edition $39.99
Atari ThreadSpace: Hyperbol $9.99
Atari Tycoon City: New York $19.99
Capcom Neopets Puzzle Adventure $29.99
DTP Entertainment Drakensang $29.99
Eidos Interactive Shellshock 2: Blood Trails $29.99
Electronic Arts Crysis Complete Pack $59.98
Electronic Arts Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning $39.99
Konami Digital Entertainment Silent Hill: Homecoming $39.99
ND Games Dark Sector $19.99
Paleo Entertainment Merchants of Brooklyn $9.99
Rockstar Games Bully: Scholarship Edition $29.99
Rockstar Games Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas $19.99
Rockstar Games Max Payne $9.99
Rockstar Games Max Payne 2 $9.99
Rockstar Games Max Payne Bundle $14.99
Rockstar Games Midnight Club 2 $9.99
Rockstar Games Grand Theft Auto 3 $9.99
Rockstar Games Grand Theft Auto: Vice City $9.99
Rockstar Games Manhunt $9.99
Rockstar Games Grand Theft Auto (Part of Grand Theft Auto Classics for $29.99)
Rockstar Games Grand Theft Auto 2 (Part of Grand Theft Auto Classics for $29.99)
Rockstar Games Grand Theft Auto Classics $29.99
Rockstar Games Grand Theft Auto Complete Pack $74.99
Rockstar Games Wild Metal (Part of Rockstar Collection for $99.99)
Rockstar Games Rockstar Collection $99.99
Sega Beijing 2008 – The Official Video Game of the Olympic Games $19.99
Sega Happy Tree Friends False Alarm $9.99
Sega Iron Man $19.99
Sega Medieval II Gold $29.95
Sega Outrun 2006: Coast 2 Coast $9.99
Sega Rome: Total War – Complete $9.99
Sega Sega Rally Revo $9.99
Sega Space Siege $19.99
Sega The Club $19.99
Sega The Golden Compass $9.99
Sega The Incredible Hulk: The Official Video Game $19.99
THQ THQ Action Pack $59.99
THQ Titan Quest Gold $19.99
Ubisoft Brain Spa $9.99
Ubisoft Brothers in Arms Earned in Blood $9.99
Ubisoft Chessmaster: Grandmaster Edition $19.99
Ubisoft CSI: NY – The Game $19.99
Ubisoft Heroes of Might and Magic V: Hammers of Fate $9.99
Ubisoft Heroes of Might and Magic V: Tribes of the East $19.99
Ubisoft Heroes of Might and Magic V Pack $39.99
Ubisoft Petz Catz 2 $9.99
Ubisoft Petz Dogz 2 $9.99
Ubisoft Petz Horsez 2 $9.99
Ubisoft Petz Pack $19.99
Ubisoft Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones $9.99
Ubisoft Prince of Persia: Warrior Within $9.99
Ubisoft Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time $9.99
Ubisoft Prince of Persia Pack $64.99
Ubisoft Rayman Raving Rabbids $9.99
Ubisoft Silent Hunter: Wolves of the Pacific $19.99
Ubisoft Silent Hunter: Wolves of the Pacific U-boat Missions $9.99
Ubisoft Silent Hunter Collection $29.99
Ubisoft The Settlers – Heritage of Kings $9.99
Ubisoft The Settlers – Rise of an Empire Gold Edition $29.99
Ubisoft The Settlers Pack $34.99
Ubisoft The Sum of All Fears $9.99
Ubisoft Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Lockdown $9.99
Ubisoft Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Collection $49.99

Games available in Australia, but not available in the US (Last year: 3 | This year: 3)

 Unresolved pricing/locale discrepancy since last year

Publisher Title Price (US$)
Eidos Interactive Championship Manager 07 $29.99
Eidos Interactive Championship Manager 08 $39.99
THQ Company of Heroes Gold $29.99
Tags:
Gaming
About the author

Craig was sucked into the endless vortex of tech at an early age, only to be spat back out babbling things like "phase-locked-loop crystal oscillators!". Mostly this receives a pat on the head from the listener, followed closely by a question about what laptop they should buy.

 

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