Prices for many Steam titles have increased recently, with many games now costing a pretty penny to buy. Why did this happen?
Game prices increased on Steam in India recently, a few publishers, Ubisoft being the most prominent, nearly doubled the prices of their new offerings on Steam for the Indian market. Games like Ghost Recon: Wildlands and For Honor went from about 1.8k INR to 3.5k INR over the span of a few hours. Then, a few weeks later, prices of a lot of relatively older titles started rising as well, ostensibly due to GST implementation. But that’s just, at max, a 15% increase when prices for some titles increased by nearly 41%! (Nearly 100% for Ubisoft) What gives?
To understand this situation, first, we need to scroll back a little. Earlier, a lot of publishers figured out that not everyone can afford to buy a game at $60, especially in developing nations like India and the Philippines. So they decided to have regional pricing to give them access to larger playerbase from around the globe. This obviously resulted in massive cross-region game trading or people using VPNs to buy games cheaper and therefore cutting into the revenue of the publishers a lot. Then some publishers, like Valve, started region locking their games. Fortunately, India was still one of the cheapest countries to buy games in. Till now that is.
On the flip side of the coin, publishers like Activision never even cared about localizing pricing and their games were priced around the $60 mark throughout the globe. Perhaps, it was more profitable for them to have lesser sales at higher prices than having more sales at lower prices. Go figure. Other publishers who got burnt with the cross-region trading or in all likelihood couldn’t meet their revenue targets, notably, EA and Bethesda, went back to international prices as well. Added to the fact that there are many people who complain about games being cheaper elsewhere and that they end up getting banned for bypassing the geo-lock to buy them, publishers are now content to let prices be at the global median.
Another cause for a price hike is the current government instituting a 15% service tax (not the same as GST! Maybe that’ll be another price hike) on digital goods from foreign sources since December 1, 2016. It appears that some publishers have decided to absorb this tax to keep the prices same but most of them push the tax onto the consumer. All in all, it’s a very sad situation for everyone here. Look forward to paying upwards of 3k per game, maybe more at launch. The question of whether this hike is within India’s purchase power parity or simply, can gamers in India actually afford these games (no matter what the publishers think) is a different story entirely. But not to despair, our lord and saviour Gaben brings deliverance to us all. Rejoice! for the Steam summer sale is merely three weeks away, if leaks are to be believed. Better start saving up now!
Psssst. If you must have Ubisoft games, check Origin for now 😉 You’ll have a pleasant surprise there. (Hint hint, games at relatively higher but still more affordable regional prices)