As we look forward to the great new games coming out this fall, there is a worrying trend that is becoming apparent — the increasing prices of upcoming games (and, in many cases, the stagnant prices of games beyond their peak!).
So we did some research to figure out what was going wrong. What we found was interesting. Spiralling prices are only the tip of a somewhat large iceberg — the disorganized state of the market and the lack of market intelligence are more pressing challenges, which are hopefully more in our control to fix.
Prices: The Government
How can there be a negative market trend and the government be not to blame, right? In this case, there are actually two ways, not one, that the government has managed to impact us gamers. The easiest one to spot is, of course, the nose-diving rupee which seems like it is heading downward in an extreme bungee jump (we can only hope there is a rope tied to the ankle)! While release prices of most games worldwide have remained the same–in rupee terms, they have become more expensive.
There has always been a 27% duty on importing the great stuff we love. Now, unconfirmed reports say that there is a “clarification” that this 27% does not depend on the price at which Indian suppliers import but on the MRP at which suppliers plan to sell. This clearly makes the 27% have a much hire impact on prices than earlier. We sure hope the importer community begins to push back on such practices and looks for workarounds to such inefficiencies.
Pirated Games and Prices: The Chicken Or The Egg?
The ease of access to hacked games and gaming consoles in India has undoubtedly been driven by the high prices of games. The appeal of drastically reduced prices coupled with the Indian approach to jugaad has made the pirated game market rampant. But what was originally driven by high prices could now be keeping prices high. When someone buys a pirated game, they don’t buy an original one: this reduces the size of the Indian market in the eyes of game producers/distributors. This means we get less attention (see the Unavailability arguments below) but also potentially higher prices for those who buy legitimate games.
Unavailability: The Nascent Market
When B+ games are released in the US and UK and don’t make their way into the subcontinent, we don’t really mind. But when an obvious blockbuster like Diablo III doesn’t make it way here on Day 1, then that is a cause for worry. Clearly, the market in India is not developed enough to make publishers take note. Thankfully, some retailers have managed to now get the Diablo III franchise into India–and (shameless plug) we have a wide suite of Diablo III products from Steelseries to choose from! The reason that the market is still nascent compared to other nations is that gaming was actively discouraged as a hobby until very recently thanks to parents’ obsession with raising the world’s next Sheldon Cooper. And also, the high cost of gaming… but we have already established that!
So What’s Next?
Recent trends in the gaming information segment, such as the new MCV India website and the annual E-xpress conference of retailers, are welcome improvements that will hopefully play an important role in the maturing of the market. Further, the naturally maturing market base (college students playing PC games 10 years ago are playing original console games today) will contribute to more serious consideration from publishers worldwide. So what if we got Sniper Elite V2 at a jaw-dropping, eye-bulging, expletive-inspiring price of Rs.3,499 (also available for Rs.3,135 on our store).
The future looks mixed. FIFA 13 was announced at Rs.3,499 on PS3 until the distributor for the the XBOX version announced it at Rs.2,999. The PS3 price was then revised immediately to Rs.2,999. We have also seen some price cuts on last year’s Activision titles. Analysts believe most distributors will be forced to increase the already-high prices in the future due to the change in import duties. But there is also potential good news with Sony looking to manufacture games in India as the head of Sony India stated in a recent MCV article. That should drive some of the prices down – with the aim to get PS3 platinum games to the Rs.999 mark.
If you are a gamer, developer, retailer, or supplier, we want to know what you think! Let us know in the comments section below!