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The price of games in Australia is good, actually – at least for now

Since time immemorial, it’s been said that games in Australia are expensive, not just Nintendo games (we’ll get to that one), but being a “gamer” and having to buy games is a costly hobby in Australia, more so than in other regions. Everyone’s so used to saying it that it’s become what everyone believes, it might have been confirmed in the past, but now, in 2023 and more recent history – I’m here to challenge that.¬†

Before I go any further, it has to be said – if you follow the new release “grind” of buying everything that comes out, gaming can be expensive, but it doesn’t mean what you’re paying isn’t good value. Conversely, gaming can be a cheap or even free hobby. Between games given away from Epic, Amazon and others to Humble Bundles, Steam and eShop sales, free-to-play games, and even advert-filled mobile games, the floor is as low as you’re willing to go. This article isn’t about saving money on games, it is saying we’ve got it pretty good here, and we often don’t realise it.¬†

Back In My Day

Oh god, here he goes – the old man talking about how SNES games were super expensive and that now if you count for inflation, those games should be even double what they’re worth now. Technically, would games sell if they were double the price they are? No, of course not – should they be? I’m sure someone will argue that. 

Still from Maximum Flower’s Video

We’ll start with the Switch. The majority of RRPs for Switch games – even from Nintendo- is $79.95. But the majority hang around that (at least for now). You could argue that the Switch is handheld, and I should compare these prices to Gameboy Games or even Nintendo 3DS pricing – but even 3DS games were only $10 cheaper a decade ago. Please don’t make me pull out the inflation calculator.

Those games a decade ago, even now, would be more expensive than most Switch games. But if you go back to the Nintendo 64, the GameCube and even the Wii, forget inflation; those games were already $99.95 most of the time. Right now, Nintendo games in Australia are the cheapest they’ve ever been, forgetting that the majority of the time, you can get a brand-new Switch game for under $69 on launch day.¬†

That Conker is actually cheap now with boxed copies going for hundreds of dollars
Image: Gamesmen

The Conversion Confusion

Remember how everyone converted things from USD to AUD to see how much we were getting “ripped off” on something? You don’t see anyone doing it now because it’s stupid and prices fluctuate, the lack of sales tax is never included etc. But just quietly, the RRP of a Switch game is just $4 USD more than America now, but if you got Fire Emblem Engage, I don’t know, for say, $65 like Amazon and Mightyape had it for launch, you’re paying USD 15 less than the Americans do.

The other consoles are not so clear-cut. PlayStation 5 games have an RRP of $124.95 from Sony, but thanks to competition, they usually launch under the hundred-dollar mark. First-party Xbox games no one buys, and everyone has GamePass. Is this cheaper than Sony and Xbox games of the past? No, it’s not. Yes, it is with inflation, but sometimes even without.

PC games were always cheaper than console games, at least when they were physical releases. Thanks to the elimination of the physical PC game, you have little choice in where to buy PC games now. Luckily, all the digital storefronts are keen for your dollar and buy exclusive distribution rights, so you have to pay whatever they want – a lot of the time, there’s not much competition. Oh wait, that’s all bad. 

The Digital Dilemma

Digital sales of games already outstrip physical game sales here in Australia. Figures from the Interactive Games and Entertainment Association report in 2021 put digital sales at $556 AU million, whereas traditional retail sits at just $378 million. Not only that but there’s also a further $849 million spent on in-game spending and subscriptions. People love to buy things digitally, and that’s going to hurt going forward.

Despite discounted gift cards and vouchers, digital games are more expensive. Once you remove retailers from the equation, you remove competition. Switch games, PS5 games, and Xbox games (which aren’t on GamePass) are all full RRP. Even though Switch games are cheaper than games on their predecessors, this probably won’t be the case for the next console. You don’t have to buy games digitally – but one day, you might have to.

The Last Of Us

Games don’t last at RRP for long, at least anything not published by Nintendo. Despite what people say, Switch games do go on sale and are discounted, and you can find ways to buy them cheaper.

Before you all send me screenshots of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe still at $79.95 after 6 years Рand yes, I do know it was a Wii U game, too (by the way, the RRP on that was $89.95). You can get the game regularly discounted, plus if you do buy and it want to sell it Рyou can sell it for a higher price.

Yes, this bundle exists, no you shouldn’t pay that much for it.

One could argue that a game not depreciating in value is better, and games being heavily discounted so soon after release creates a wait-and-see market. But that’s an argument for another time.

Even if you buy at RRP, lots of games are cheaper than they were in the past, or should be if you could for inflation – but inflation prices aren’t real. Things have got more expensive lately, but games really haven’t (unless you’re buying them digitally) and we should relish it while we can.

Whether by sheer luck or the Australian bargain-hunting mindset and willingness to never pay sticker – we’ve so far scraped by. Don’t think the next generation will be this good.

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About The Author
Daniel Vuckovic
The Owner and Creator of this fair website. I also do news, reviews, programming, art and social media here. It is named after me after all. Please understand.

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