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

PublisherTitlePrice in US (US$)Price in AU (US$)
ActivisionCall of Duty 4: Modern Warfare$39.99$49.99
ActivisionQuantum of Solace$19.99$49.99
ActivisionSoldier of Fortune: Payback$29.99$54.99
Bethesda SoftworksFallout 3$49.99$69.99
Electronic ArtsBattleForge$29.99$49.99
Electronic ArtsCommand and Conquer: Red Alert 3$29.99$49.99
Electronic ArtsDead Space$29.99$49.99
Electronic ArtsFIFA Manager 09$29.99$39.99
Electronic ArtsMass Effect$19.99$29.99
Electronic ArtsMirror's Edge$19.99$49.99
Electronic ArtsNeed for Speed Undercover$29.99$39.99
Electronic ArtsSPORE$39.99$49.99
Electronic ArtsSPORE + SPORE Creepy and Cute Parts Pack$59.98$69.98
PopCap Games IncPlants vs. Zombies$9.99$19.99
SegaEmpire: Total War$49.99$59.99
SegaEmpire: Total War Elite Units$69.99$79.99
SegaEmpire: Total War Special Forces Edition$69.99$79.99
SegaFootball Manager 2009 (Known in the US as Worldwide Soccer Manager)$29.99$49.99
SegaMedieval II: Total War (US gets separate game, Australia must buy Total War Mega Pack)$19.99$79.99
SegaMedieval II: Total War Kingdoms (US gets separate game, Australia must buy Total War Mega Pack)$14.99$79.99
SegaRome: Total War – Alexander (US gets separate game, Australia must buy Total War Mega Pack)$9.99$79.99
Southpeak GamesVelvet Assassin$49.99$59.99
Square EnixThe Last Remnant$39.99$49.99
THQSaints Row 2$29.99$49.99
THQWarhammer 40,000: Dawn of War – Gold Edition$19.99$29.99
THQWarhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II$49.99$59.99
UbisoftFar Cry 2$29.99$49.99
Warner Bros Interactive EntertainmentWanted: Weapons of Fate$49.99$64.99
Warner Bros Interactive EntertainmentF.E.A.R.2: Project Origin$49.99$59.99

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

PublisherTitlePrice in US (US$)Price in AU (US$)
SegaTotal War Mega Pack$89.99$79.99
THQCompany of Heroes$19.99$14.99
THQCompany of Heroes: Opposing Fronts$19.99$14.99
THQFrontlines: Fuel of War$29.99$14.99
THQJuiced 2: Hot Import Nights$19.99$14.99
THQS.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl$19.99$14.99
THQTitan Quest$19.99$14.99
THQTitan Quest – Immortal Throne$19.99$14.99
THQWarhammer 40,000: Dawn of War – Dark Crusade$19.99$14.99
THQWarhammer 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

PublisherTitlePrice (US$)
2K Games2K Sports Baseball Pack$39.99
2K GamesCivCity: Rome$19.99
2K GamesCivilization IV: Warlords$9.99
2K GamesCivilization IV: Beyond the Sword$19.99
2K GamesMajor League Baseball 2K9$19.99
2K GamesMLB Front Office Manager$29.99
2K GamesPrey$14.99
2K GamesRailroad Tycoon 3$4.99
2K GamesRailroad Tycoon II Platinum$4.99
2K GamesRailroad Tycoon Collection$24.99
2K GamesShattered Union$9.99
2K GamesSid Meier's Civilization IV: Colonization$29.99
2K GamesSid Meier's Civilization III Complete$4.99
2K GamesSid Meier's Civilization IV$19.99
2K GamesSid Meier's Civilization IV – The Complete Edition$39.99
2K GamesSid Meier's Pirates!$9.99
2K GamesSid Meier's Railroads!$19.99
AtariAct of War: Direct Action$19.99
AtariAct of War: High Treason$19.99
AtariArmA: Combat Operations$19.99
AtariAtari 80 Classics in One$14.99
AtariCodename Panzers – Cold War$39.99
AtariDeath to Spies$19.99
AtariDesperados 2: Cooper's Revenge$19.99
AtariIndigo Prophecy$9.99
AtariRollercoaster Tycoon 3: Platinum$29.99
AtariThe Witcher: Enhanced Edition$39.99
AtariThreadSpace: Hyperbol$9.99
AtariTycoon City: New York$19.99
CapcomNeopets Puzzle Adventure$29.99
DTP EntertainmentDrakensang$29.99
Eidos InteractiveShellshock 2: Blood Trails$29.99
Electronic ArtsCrysis Complete Pack$59.98
Electronic ArtsWarhammer Online: Age of Reckoning$39.99
Konami Digital EntertainmentSilent Hill: Homecoming$39.99
ND GamesDark Sector$19.99
Paleo EntertainmentMerchants of Brooklyn$9.99
Rockstar GamesBully: Scholarship Edition$29.99
Rockstar GamesGrand Theft Auto: San Andreas$19.99
Rockstar GamesMax Payne$9.99
Rockstar GamesMax Payne 2$9.99
Rockstar GamesMax Payne Bundle$14.99
Rockstar GamesMidnight Club 2$9.99
Rockstar GamesGrand Theft Auto 3$9.99
Rockstar GamesGrand Theft Auto: Vice City$9.99
Rockstar GamesManhunt$9.99
Rockstar GamesGrand Theft Auto (Part of Grand Theft Auto Classics for $29.99)
Rockstar GamesGrand Theft Auto 2 (Part of Grand Theft Auto Classics for $29.99)
Rockstar GamesGrand Theft Auto Classics$29.99
Rockstar GamesGrand Theft Auto Complete Pack$74.99
Rockstar GamesWild Metal (Part of Rockstar Collection for $99.99)
Rockstar GamesRockstar Collection$99.99
SegaBeijing 2008 – The Official Video Game of the Olympic Games$19.99
SegaHappy Tree Friends False Alarm$9.99
SegaIron Man$19.99
SegaMedieval II Gold$29.95
SegaOutrun 2006: Coast 2 Coast$9.99
SegaRome: Total War – Complete$9.99
SegaSega Rally Revo$9.99
SegaSpace Siege$19.99
SegaThe Club$19.99
SegaThe Golden Compass$9.99
SegaThe Incredible Hulk: The Official Video Game$19.99
THQTHQ Action Pack$59.99
THQTitan Quest Gold$19.99
UbisoftBrain Spa$9.99
UbisoftBrothers in Arms Earned in Blood$9.99
UbisoftChessmaster: Grandmaster Edition$19.99
UbisoftCSI: NY – The Game$19.99
UbisoftHeroes of Might and Magic V: Hammers of Fate$9.99
UbisoftHeroes of Might and Magic V: Tribes of the East$19.99
UbisoftHeroes of Might and Magic V Pack$39.99
UbisoftPetz Catz 2$9.99
UbisoftPetz Dogz 2$9.99
UbisoftPetz Horsez 2$9.99
UbisoftPetz Pack$19.99
UbisoftPrince of Persia: The Two Thrones$9.99
UbisoftPrince of Persia: Warrior Within$9.99
UbisoftPrince of Persia: The Sands of Time$9.99
UbisoftPrince of Persia Pack$64.99
UbisoftRayman Raving Rabbids$9.99
UbisoftSilent Hunter: Wolves of the Pacific$19.99
UbisoftSilent Hunter: Wolves of the Pacific U-boat Missions$9.99
UbisoftSilent Hunter Collection$29.99
UbisoftThe Settlers – Heritage of Kings$9.99
UbisoftThe Settlers – Rise of an Empire Gold Edition$29.99
UbisoftThe Settlers Pack$34.99
UbisoftThe Sum of All Fears$9.99
UbisoftTom Clancy's Rainbow Six Lockdown$9.99
UbisoftTom 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

PublisherTitlePrice (US$)
Eidos InteractiveChampionship Manager 07$29.99
Eidos InteractiveChampionship Manager 08$39.99
THQCompany of Heroes Gold$29.99
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