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Steam pricing

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  • PC gaming
  • Games
  • Steam
  • Video Games
Last response: in Video Games
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November 28, 2008 8:27:26 AM


As some of you may know I'm quite satisfied with how Steam works and the convenience of getting your games and keeping them maintained (steam takes care of patching the game).

However I've noticed that the pricing for many games is significantly higher than that I am able to get the same games via retail channels (I'm in Europe). I would love to have most of my games in my Steam portfolio but I am not willing to pay premium for that sole pleasure. Additionally buying a game in retail will get me extra materials (that I do not particularly care for, like a manual) so by buying online the game should actually be cheaper, unless the costs of keeping steam servers up (with adequate bandwidth) are extraordinary high.

I was able to buy Fallout 3 for €31 (actually I got it for €30 because I had a voucher) whereas it goes for $55 on Steam. Taking currency exchange rates into account that is still more than €42. Same holds for many other games. Also I notice that on Steam games are not reduced in price for a long time. Bioshock still goes for $55 on steam, whereas this game is in bargain bins on many retail sites (online and in shops). I can get it delivered to my house for €14.

In short, although I love steam and I will get my games from there even at a slight premium price because I love the convenience, it is not worth more than few euro extra for me, not more than 10 (in bioshock's case it's 28!!!).

Am I the only one annoyed by this?

More about : steam pricing

November 28, 2008 8:37:31 AM

I feel the same, im in the UK.
Most Steam classics i have played through retail, or on the 360.

I have also wondered about the seemingly high cost.
Take Amazon Vs HMV (UK High Street Retailer)

Amazon would be, as an estimate 15% cheaper than HMV, due to a reduction in the fixed costs to the business of maintaining a retail outlet, staffing, in-store marketing and positioning and all the regulations that go with having a retail eg disabled access....it all adds up.
Amazon experience some of these points, but on a much less restrictive scale hence the reduced costs.

Additionally hardware has always been historically cheaper in the USA when compared to Europe - If you could download a Q6600 over the net then European retailers would be out of business!!

So considering all this, why is Steam still so expensive?
Profit? Or is it related to the upkeep of the model (i do not believe this)

My personal thoughts are that Steam is a monopoly service, and once some imitations come out that are well supported and equally as popular the prices will fall.
November 28, 2008 8:40:58 AM

The exchange rate can't be helping. The dollar's much stronger against the pound than 3 months ago.

I remember when it hit about $2.10:£100
now it's $1.53. it has been as low as $1.43
Related resources
November 28, 2008 8:48:21 AM

I exchange rate changes daily. Our AUD went from almost $1 USD : $1 AUD but went down to $1 USD : $.60 AUD... You don't expect for prices to go upfor games, now do you?
November 28, 2008 8:51:23 AM

mi1ez said:
The exchange rate can't be helping. The dollar's much stronger against the pound than 3 months ago.

I remember when it hit about $2.10:£100
now it's $1.53. it has been as low as $1.43


In the euro zone the exchange rate is still helping.
November 28, 2008 8:52:55 AM

pr2thej said:
I feel the same, im in the UK.
My personal thoughts are that Steam is a monopoly service, and once some imitations come out that are well supported and equally as popular the prices will fall.


Well, at the moment it should be competing with regular retail and for me personally it is losing as the games on steam are too expensive. Apparently enough people think otherwise. Maybe it is competing in the $ zone although I cannot imagine that $55 for Bioshock is a competing proposition in the US.
November 28, 2008 9:46:37 AM

yeah ive just realised i bought the new tomb raider game £35.41($44) off steam, if i go to HMV i could of bought the game for £24.99 (link: http://hmv.com/hmvweb/displayProductDetails.do?ctx=305;6;-1;-1;42&sku=763864)

11pound extra for an online service is pretty terrible.
November 28, 2008 9:57:24 AM

No disks as well man!
I like my shelves full of game media...i still have about 20 Dreamcast and 10 Mega Drive games on display so i can look like some cool oldie nostalgia chap.
Sometimes when people come round i put on some Jungle and dance like an epileptic as well.

Anyway, yea the exchange rate sucks hard. I was last night trying to find someone who knew an American well enough to order me a shedload of cheap I7's on Black Friday deals and ship them to the UK so i could eBay them for phat cash.
November 28, 2008 10:34:22 AM

I expect that it is the publisher who sets the price, Valve is supplying the steam platform and either receives a fixed fee from the publisher for putting the game up (unlikely) or Valve gets a percentage of the revenues (likely).

This is the best explanation that I can come up with why such differences can continue to exist as the publisher probably have a preference for the retail outlet (not getting too dependend on Valve) but simply cannot ignore Steam anymore as a possible outlet for their games.

Games developed by Valve are always same or similar price through retail or Steam itself, but again here you see that older games carry higher pricing than in retail. Valve has no stock related costs for older games as they only maintain a digital master on a server, the retail channel buys games in stock and after a certain time wants to get rid of the stock and so introduces price drops.
November 28, 2008 11:42:28 AM

Quote:
Regional restrictions and pricing

Although Steam is an entirely virtual entity, its centralised nature allows developers and publishers to geographically restrict where a game is available, and at what price.[40]

Both regional restrictions and pricing are unpopular with Steam users affected by them, and a Steam Community group called "Rest of World" exists to try and lobby against them.[41]

Some of the difficulties in selling a retailing game worldwide are detailed by a forum post from a member of Valve's staff:
“ Sometimes publishers are split into mostly independent North America/European/Asian divisions and one division doesn't have the rights to distribute in all areas. In order to distribute in all areas we have to negotiate deals with all the different divisions and they all have different ideas of how pricing should work and how important digital distribution is for their games. We are always trying to help them understand the importance of markets around the world as well as help them understand the importance of fair and equal pricing for all regions, but it's an ongoing struggle. ”

—John McCaskey, Steam programmer, August 2008[42]

Regional pricing is widely used by publishers to artificially ensure that prices on Steam stay comparable to or above the retail price of a game in user's area, which considering regional differences and exchange rate fluctuations can lead to dramatic differences. Thus, as of April 2008, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare costs $49.95 USD in the United States but $88.50 USD (not AUD) in Australia.[14]

While Valve does not have region restrictions on their own games, they do use Steam's authentication to prevent boxed versions of their games sold in Russia and Thailand, which are priced significantly lower than elsewhere, from being used outside those territories.[43]


From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steampowered
November 28, 2008 11:47:22 AM

On the flipside, we did have the option of HL1 for $0.98 last week!
November 28, 2008 12:07:54 PM



Thanks (although I was aware of it already). This does not explain at all though why Bioshock would still be listed for $55 whereas region retail prices have dropped to as low as $18 (back calculated for comparison convenience). Sure, there are also online retailers that still sell it for $40+ (well, probably not sell it but they list it as such) but $55 is outrageous by any standard, and in retail shops I have not seen it above $38 for ages.

The stuf you quoted above explains why there is regional differences (at release time), not why there is a much slower economic depreciation of games that are sold as online downloads (regardless of the region they're sold in).
November 28, 2008 1:47:51 PM

Bioshock is 19.99 on steam under the "top rated" page, its not 55$; at least not from my viewing angle of steam which I suppose may differ from that of Europe's.

Although I was under the impression that the client was the same.
November 28, 2008 2:00:51 PM

Which region do you live in?

Does the publisher really think they can still sell Bioshock for $55 on the european market? It clearly shows up as such on my "top rated" page (and anywhere else on steam).

I am going to send a mail to 2K games (publisher) asking them whether they've lost their minds.

November 28, 2008 4:47:21 PM

It most likely has to do with pricing regulations set by publishers. I can understand why games on Steam usually remain at the original MSRP longer than standard retail. What does annoy me about Steam pricing is that they will still sell single titles for the same price or more than a bundle including the same game with no notice of "Hey this game is available in this bundle".
November 28, 2008 5:34:27 PM

purplerat said:
I can understand why games on Steam usually remain at the original MSRP longer than standard retail.


What is the reason for it then?
November 28, 2008 10:22:16 PM

Yeah, agreed. I won't buy games through Steam unless it's a rare good sale. Just paid $40 shipped for retail L4D through Amazon. $10 off retail price is usually a pretty easy find for a new release in the USA. Occasional $15-20 off retail even.

Steam version would need to be $5-10 cheaper than a boxed version to get my purchase as I do value a game box on my shelf. And I still typically just register the key and allow steam to download/install the game anyway.
November 28, 2008 10:24:06 PM

One of the retail chain stores in the USA recently had Bioshock (retail DVD) on sale for $9.99.
November 29, 2008 5:57:57 PM

pauldh said:
Yeah, agreed. I won't buy games through Steam unless it's a rare good sale. Just paid $40 shipped for retail L4D through Amazon. $10 off retail price is usually a pretty easy find for a new release in the USA. Occasional $15-20 off retail even.

Steam version would need to be $5-10 cheaper than a boxed version to get my purchase as I do value a game box on my shelf. And I still typically just register the key and allow steam to download/install the game anyway.


I thought activating games on Steam was reserved to Valve titles and a few other third party games? If you know how to do it, I'd be nice to know since I want to register a few games on it to toss the boxes away. (Cleaning around the house)
November 29, 2008 7:04:31 PM

pauldh said:

Steam version would need to be $5-10 cheaper than a boxed version to get my purchase


I'm actually ok with paying a bit extra because of the extra convenience of having my game patched automatically and not being forced to have a disk in my drive. I'm just not prepared to pay more than a couple of euros/dollars for that added service.
November 29, 2008 8:27:41 PM

You have to blame individual publishers though, they are the ones who tell Valve at what prices to sell their games on Steam. Valve only controls the prices for their own games, not everyone else's.
November 29, 2008 10:18:49 PM

I agree it is primarily the individual publisher to blame but Valve is not completely impartial to this either. They allow their Steam service to be used in this way, which is not an advertisement to it. They should be more careful as to what the impact of the pricing policies of individual publishers is on the acceptance of the steam service.
Anonymous
November 30, 2008 12:25:09 AM

No, valve cannot undercut their prices...

First, if they sold 3rd party games cheaper... they might lose a profit... PLUS brick&morter stores (best buy) wouldn't be able to maintain their own prices on those games. They would eventually stop selling them because digital distribution is that much better... and then companies would be like... WTF!!! we just spent money on all this publishing sh*t and they won't sell it any more...

Plus they can't do it to their own games... for the same exact reason... they would undercut the retail stores thereby making them not sell their games... if that happens the ONLY way to get valve games would be through steam... and since some people cannot stand/or use steam it wouldn't work....

I do think the prices on games is too high to begin with... but if valve cut the prices on steam... there wouldn't be any more brick and morter PC game stores....
November 30, 2008 12:49:36 AM

i havent read the whole thread, so sorry if its been said
but cant you buy the game retail, and put it in steam by using the cdkey you get?? i thought you could do that!! maybe it doesnt work with all games? that would fix your problem!! Buy retail, put it on steam, then you can redownload it anywhere(i guess?) and get all the patching done
November 30, 2008 1:15:20 PM

Yeah fwogiz you can with most games, probably all these days. And it makes it no cd/dvd too which is nice. I remember I bought dark messiah of might and magic and it actually wouldn't run properly in the retail form, I had to install it on steam. Does annoy me that the orange box was such a poor package for the retail, just the steam installer files on 2 dvds, no manual, no extras at all. Surely not a nice way to reward the loyal fans who waited for the ridiculous time gap between ep 1 and 2.
November 30, 2008 2:00:46 PM

Heya,

Steam does cost more in some cases. You don't get discs. You have to download your game (takes time, if you have a download quota cap, that hurts too). You have to have software installed and on to use Steam (and log in) which can be irritating. Steam is not perfect. And you know what happens when Steam goes down (nothing lasts forever)? You don't get those games you paid for anymore.

But in the end, I still like Steam better than buying boxed versions of games. I don't like buying a box for a game because I don't care about the discs. In fact, I hate discs. I don't want those stupid looking silly boxes cluttering up a shelf; they just go to the trash. I put cd's in binders. Small, compact and discrete. Also, I like steam because the games already come down fully ready to go and they don't require a damn CD to run or any kind of check in that sense. It's so much less invasive to use Steam than it is to get a retail game and have to install it and then deal with the crumby protection strategies. Firing up a game to hear my CD/DVD drive crank up and stop and say "insert disc" is annoying. It's noisy. I dont' want to fumble through discs and change stuff. I like to just click and go. No B.S.. And steam does that. I also like Steam because I can get on, see which of my friends are on, and we can game and talk and stuff.

I think of it like this. Steam costs them money. They've got to pay for the software, the maintenace, the udpates, the internet usage. We pay flat rates on games from it. But download any time, non-stop. The cost justifies all the hidden costs that are involved. And I get the convenience of it. Which I would rather have. I can buy a game, and leave it to download while I'm at work. Come home to my new game. I don't have to wate time going to some store that I don't really want to go to in the first place and walk through metal detectors.

Cheesr,
Anonymous
November 30, 2008 4:48:02 PM

fwogiz and spanner razor... you can't buy a game retail and then install it through steam...

Like you can install it and then control it via steam... but if you uninstall it... steam will not re-download it for you... and it doesn't auto update...

I recently tried to do that with far cry 2... which they sell in steam... but i got cheaper elsewhere... and i couldn't port it to the steam service... I even sent them a note about it.. and I got a default stupid assed response back... PLUS ONE for lame customer service...
November 30, 2008 11:20:56 PM

BigMac said:
I'm actually ok with paying a bit extra because of the extra convenience of having my game patched automatically and not being forced to have a disk in my drive. I'm just not prepared to pay more than a couple of euros/dollars for that added service.

I value that too. So makes sense to purchase third party games through steam for that purpose.

As mentioned, Valve games and some others you can just activate your product key from the retail pack; No need to ever pull the DVD from the case. Steam will download, install, update, etc. just like if purchased through steam. I'm actually doing that right this minute with L4D.
November 30, 2008 11:27:52 PM

malveaux said:
I still like Steam better than buying boxed versions of games. I don't like buying a box for a game because I don't care about the discs. In fact, I hate discs. I don't want those stupid looking silly boxes cluttering up a shelf; they just go to the trash. I put cd's in binders.

I wish that were me. I struggle to throw away the old large game boxes from 7+ years ago.
December 1, 2008 1:32:59 PM

at 1st i thought steam games should be around $5 cheaper then retail, but after several purchases through steam and then a retail i changed my mind. not having to go to the store, install 2 discs, and worry about losing them is great. the only concern i have with steam is an account getting stolen. the game self updating and a great server list make it really easy for new gamers

that said, i absolutely hated steam when day of defeat was taken off won. so many crashes, reinstalls and random updates
December 1, 2008 4:23:38 PM

BigMac said:
What is the reason for it then?


For one they don't have the issue of needing to move stock. A retail store can only afford to keep unsold items for so long before having to cut prices just to move product. A digital distribution like Steam does not have that issue. There's no reason for Steam to ever have to sell a game below cost unless they have already bought licenses and need to sell them.

I'm not entirely sure how Steam works with paying for other publishers games. Do they pay them per copy sold or do they have to commit to a certain number of copies? If it's the former then they would never have to sell a game for less than what it costs them, something retail stores have to do all the time.

But that's just one reason. There is also the agreements made between Steam and publishers which most likely stipulate pricing. Requiring Steam to sell games at MSRP for a certain period of time may be something publishers require as to not undercut traditional retailers who they still rely heavily on. Think about how much retail space has been lost for PC games in recent years. Regardless of digital distribution that still doesn't bode well for PC game publishers.

I've even noticed times when companies with the ability to sell games directly online will hold off doing so so that retailers can grab those all so important first day sales. They also keep their price on their own site at MSRP usually until the price at retailers has dropped across the board. The reason being that they don't want to force some retailers to have to compete with them for their own product. I think publishers are more likely to hold Steam to standards closer to their own rather than those of traditional retailers.
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