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Why am I still buying retail games??

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June 28, 2011 9:50:17 AM

This post is somewhat written in frustration, but I will try and stay away from "this is f******g b******t" sentences.

I just spent some time browsing a few download services like Direct2drive, Gamersgate and of course steam for prices on different games for the PC. I then compared it to the on-line retail site i usually use when buying games.

And what frustrates (but didn't shock) me was that unless it is a special deal, games on these services are still the same price or often more expensive than in retail!

examples:
fallout new vegas: steam price: 49,99€
same game on-line retail: 19,99€*

witcher 2: steam 49,99€
online-retail: 40€*

Deus ex human revolution: steam preorder 44,99€
Online retail pre-order: 40€*

*these prices are converted from a Danish retailer, and as we are a part of the Euro, the prices are slightly altered for convenience.

and I could go on and on.

A few months back i bought Dragon age:o rigins ultimate edition, Assassins Creed 2 and Mass effect 2, as on-line retail.
price: 35€.
the same purchase on steam would have been something like 65€.

Why are the prices so high on steam?? You would think that with all the expenses for producing discs, boxes etc, the removed shipping expenses, that the prices would drop, at least below retail.

I know that steam and the games industry are a business, and that their goal is to make money. But to me it seams strange, that they don't want to take a larger share of the market by being competitive on prices with retail services. Why would I buy a game on steam or other download services, when i can get it cheaper somewhere else?

Not only are they limiting their share of the market, but cheaper games would also appeal to a larger crowd of gamers(each games would sell more) and the accessibility and lower prices, would to me seem like a good method to combat piracy of games, that again would increase sales.


I am not a businessman, and I don't know what deals and contract exist between download services, and the publishers. But I would think it would be in the interest of both to increase sales of their games by make the games as appealing to the largest amount of gamers as possible, and by combating piracy.

And of course the loosers are the gamers like me who are stuck with retail versions or more expensive games, when I would prefer download services like steam. And this is my frustration. I want downloads like steam, as it the way of the future, and very manageable, and the accessibility, to a huge amount of games is great. But as long as I can get my games cheaper elsewhere, why should I buy my games on steam??

More about : buying retail games

June 28, 2011 10:44:19 AM

Personally i've recognised that there will always be offers on steam, i just wait for them, it saves me checking the shops over and over again and I really like not having to put disks in and out all of the time.
June 28, 2011 10:54:16 AM

I think steam prices are highly dependant on which country you live in, i use steam alot here in the UK and can tell you that on the whole they are very competitive with the retail industry and in most cases do beat them, as 13th monkey said its best just to wait for the steam offers to grab a game, as you can get some real bargains.
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June 28, 2011 11:36:05 AM

I live in Denmark, (yes the country that produced H.C. Andersen, Carlsberg and Michael Laudrup ;)  ;) 

And therefore The games I buy are in Euros. Don't know if that is a factor, but I have noticed that games on Amazon.co.uk, have prices even more competitive.


And yes I still do get some great deals, just bought divinity 2 the dragon knights saga, 50% off, and got a Rockstar deal with all the GTA games Max payne, and some other stuff for 50 Euros.

But my point is they should be by far more competitive than retail, not only as a benefit for the gamers, but for them selves and the gaming industry.

Steam is a great concept, and with better pricing I would buy all my games on that platform, and not just random deals, when you know that all games get their prices cut in half after less than a year on a site like Amazon.
June 28, 2011 12:05:24 PM


@Uther39

A quick check on uk prices at steam compared with amazon.co.uk for the same 3 games as I posted uin my OP gives these prices


Fallout new vegas:
Steam 29,99£
Amazon: 16,55£

Witcher 2:
Steam: 34,99£
Amazon: 24,91

Deus Ex HR:
Steam: 29,99£
Amazon: 27,99£

Steam total: 94,97£
Amazon total: 69,45

Saved on Amazon: 25,25£


Either Amazon are selling games at a huge loss, or Steam are ripping gamers off. It can't be that expensive to run the steam servers, that prices has to be so high.
June 28, 2011 12:39:18 PM

Retail prices in my country(Greece):
Farcry 2:9.99€
Mass Effect 2:12.90€
steam:19,99€
Crysis 12.90€
steam:14.99€
ΜΟΗ¨14.90€
Steam:30€
Bad Company 2:20€
Steam:30€
Witcher 2:p remium retail:40€
Steam premium digital(less featured):49.99€

The same situation here.Steam makes little sense when you get everything much cheaper retail.
June 28, 2011 12:43:27 PM

Yeah cutting brick and motor stores out of the equation with production cost should drop the price. So it seems at least. My only guess to why the prices are still the same or higher is simply because people are buying them.

I for one am happy with buying "retail" copies. And at this point actually prefer it. Only because I like having the physical media, box, and soon to be extinct manual. Quicker installs, and a nice manual to have open next to you while playing the game.

I will convert 100% the day these companies are done milking the current pool of people and drop the prices for their online goods. When they realize they are saving money on producing a disc, box, manual, shipping, and possibly taxes.

And for turkey dinner's sake Steam please make it easier to make a freaking icon to throw on my taskbar. I hate loading up your DRM just to find the game I want to launch.

June 28, 2011 1:03:03 PM

the reason they cost more is that they are stored at the other end and always will be available, in theory. i dunno about 20 years down the line whether you will still be able to get orange-box. but in theory you should be able to.
you cant really say you will have that option with your dvd's as most will be lucky to last 7 years. due to environmental issues, things like disk cancer, scratches and loss are all moot points when you use steam or similar...
yes it costs more but at the end of the day you should always have access to a game. even 20 years after you bought it.
June 28, 2011 1:23:36 PM

HEXiT said:
the reason they cost more is that they are stored at the other end and always will be available, in theory. i dunno about 20 years down the line whether you will still be able to get orange-box. but in theory you should be able to.
you cant really say you will have that option with your dvd's as most will be lucky to last 7 years. due to environmental issues, things like disk cancer, scratches and loss are all moot points when you use steam or similar...
yes it costs more but at the end of the day you should always have access to a game. even 20 years after you bought it.




Not exactly sure what you mean.......

If it that retailers have to "get rid" of older titles, and therefore sell them cheap, then I guess you are right. Steam don't have to do that, hell there are a great potential for "retro" gamers to pick up older titles on steam. (Another argument why it is a great concept). But New titles are often a lot cheaper in retail still.
June 28, 2011 1:51:18 PM

And that is why I prefer Steam to download sites like Gamersgate and Direct2drive.

My critique is not specific oriented at Steam, but the whole idea of downloading games.

Personally I never buy games when they are released (too expensive), but the fact is that steam deals rarely are cheaper than retail when the games gets older. (as I gave an example of in the OP).

Besides I am not only moaning about the prices as a gamer, who as a student, have a very limited budget for games.
But what I don't get is that Steam(and other download sites) could wipe out all retail competition, and increase total sales of the games, if they cut the prices.

It can only be in publishers/developers interest as well to get rid of retail, as I'm sure their profit from download sales per unit are a lot higher on downloads that in retail.
June 28, 2011 2:27:20 PM

rambostyrer said:
This post is somewhat written in frustration, but I will try and stay away from "this is f******g b******t" sentences.

I just spent some time browsing a few download services like Direct2drive, Gamersgate and of course steam for prices on different games for the PC. I then compared it to the on-line retail site i usually use when buying games.

And what frustrates (but didn't shock) me was that unless it is a special deal, games on these services are still the same price or often more expensive than in retail!


There are basically two big hurrdles/problem that keep prices high on digital services. One is that Box Retailers (Gamestop, Walmart, etc) are still where the majority of people still like to buy their games from and two the majority of people still don't have a decent internet connection to make digital services an appealing offer.

To deal with retailers, publishers usually get a certain amount of "free" advertising when they decide to sell their games in these kinds of stores, or pay a certain amount to have end cap displays or posters setup. As most people generally don't keep up with game news this catches those people who were unaware that a new game in a franchise they liked was out. Places like Gamestop that push preorders, whether rightly or not, make the average consumer aware of games that are similar to games they like. Some companies are even saying they won't carry a particular publishers titles if they choose to digital distribute or don't give some sort of timed exclusive to box retailers before the digital release. This is why we are seeing a lot of companies (like THQ and EA) have their own digital distribution stores but even then their prices are generally the same as box stores. However a lot of times ordering directly through them nets you a lot more special content that can sometimes be worth it.

June 28, 2011 3:28:56 PM

rambostyrer just out of curiosity, i assume amazon does not have digital downloads and you get a physical copy, how much would the shipping amount for your order and how many days for delivery? might have to take that into account.

personally i rather buy my games on physical copies unless its much cheaper digitally, if i can then resister my game to be able to be download from an online service like steam or origin after that's better.
June 28, 2011 4:09:55 PM

i found the best way is to buy games that are on steam from a retailer. games like fear 2. you can then download them from steam if you damage your disk. 1s its in your steam list it will always be available to you.
so yeah its a service and yeah in some respects it costs a bit more but you do get quite a bit in return. so its not that bad a deal when you think about it. especialy if you get some of there weekly deals that can be as much as 75 percent off... which will often be cheaper than in the bargain bin at your local game.
really if you want to talk ripoffs thats the company we should all point at.
they even sell on games that dont have working keys... keys that are attached to some1 else's account game are supposed to not accept them but they do. so not only are they ripping off companies and causing us to pay higher prices for lesser products they are also ripping off there own customer base. the idiots...
June 28, 2011 5:31:46 PM

Yes steam stores your games. But they do not store a separate single digital copy for every single person that owns that game. Unlike a hard copy that is being stored and costing money over time as its sitting in a store/warehouse somewhere until someone buys it. Again, cheaper on steams end.
June 28, 2011 8:17:40 PM

I kinda like buying games from retail. I like to physically own my games. It's also faster to install rather than having to wait for the download to complete before you can start the installation process. At least that's my experience with StarDock's Impulse. I bought Galactic Civilization II a while ago, but I decided to play it again and since the game was registered I decided to have installed through Impulse.

Yeah, yeah, all the games purchased through Steam or other similar services will be there anytime you want to re-install a game (unless they go outta business), but in the end I like having the disc.
June 28, 2011 8:47:24 PM

the only reason people buy steam and thoes services is that they usually lose/damage the dvd disks

or like me and dont like having to keep swapping disks and are too lazy to mount them as virtual images/no-nd patches

plus its legal and there is a lot smaller shance of problems with the program and you can allways burn the games to dvd to back them up if you want
June 28, 2011 11:07:13 PM

skaz said:
Yeah cutting brick and motor stores out of the equation with production cost should drop the price. So it seems at least. My only guess to why the prices are still the same or higher is simply because people are buying them.

I for one am happy with buying "retail" copies. And at this point actually prefer it. Only because I like having the physical media, box, and soon to be extinct manual. Quicker installs, and a nice manual to have open next to you while playing the game.

I will convert 100% the day these companies are done milking the current pool of people and drop the prices for their online goods. When they realize they are saving money on producing a disc, box, manual, shipping, and possibly taxes.

And for turkey dinner's sake Steam please make it easier to make a freaking icon to throw on my taskbar. I hate loading up your DRM just to find the game I want to launch.

Well I find that if you wait you can get games cheeper on steam. BUT lets say you dont wait. I have purchased games retail and still have the CD but lost the CD key and so now even though I have the disk I cant play them because I have a diff PC and no CD key. This would not be an issue with steam games and that is worth something. Also how much do you really think that box and dvd cost $1.50 at most.
June 28, 2011 11:19:26 PM

rambostyrer said:
And that is why I prefer Steam to download sites like Gamersgate and Direct2drive.

My critique is not specific oriented at Steam, but the whole idea of downloading games.

Personally I never buy games when they are released (too expensive), but the fact is that steam deals rarely are cheaper than retail when the games gets older. (as I gave an example of in the OP).

Besides I am not only moaning about the prices as a gamer, who as a student, have a very limited budget for games.
But what I don't get is that Steam(and other download sites) could wipe out all retail competition, and increase total sales of the games, if they cut the prices.

It can only be in publishers/developers interest as well to get rid of retail, as I'm sure their profit from download sales per unit are a lot higher on downloads that in retail.

If you notice there is not much price comp when it comes to games. Walmart might have the game on sale for 25cents less. In a lot of cases the publisher has an agreement that the game has to be sold for a certain price thats why you dont see different stores trying to out price each other. And again when you look at things that are produced in the quantity of 10' of thousands of copies the cost on the retail package is most likely much less than you would think. I would guess a retail packaged game cost $1-2 at most. So they would not be able to lower prices much based on no package. But if they start to sell larger volumes of games they may end up getting a lower cost and then they could drop price. I purchased The Witcher not to long after it was out on a steam sale for $39.99 so you dont have to wait long in some cases. Its not like they are buying one copy of a game and having people download the same copy over and over, they have a cost that comes from the publisher at least for now they prob pay the same as the big box stores.
June 28, 2011 11:32:04 PM

Software companies would like nothing better than to stop making distribution disks entirely. It's a huge expense and allows disk buyers to sell their disks if they choose. Sometime in the not too distant future all software will be downloaded.
June 29, 2011 1:06:10 AM

cburke82 said:
Well I find that if you wait you can get games cheeper on steam. BUT lets say you dont wait. I have purchased games retail and still have the CD but lost the CD key and so now even though I have the disk I cant play them because I have a diff PC and no CD key. This would not be an issue with steam games and that is worth something. Also how much do you really think that box and dvd cost $1.50 at most.


I have no way of estimating something like that. But what I can estimate is that X times the amount of physical games made is indeed a lot of money to a company.

The mere idea I'm trying express is that it is cheaper for a gaming company to distribute their game digitally then through physical media. With that in mind, the question is why are digital goods still the same price or more at times? I can see the appeal of steam and I see nothing wrong with someone who wants/can spend extra money for that convenience. But I for one don't need it. I like my physical copy and have no trouble loosing my keys.


To each their own.
June 29, 2011 1:32:41 AM

Steam seems like they never have the "so called deals that no one can beet". I can find just about every game for less on amazon.com or some times newegg.com. I live in the US so if it's not the best deal here well.....

I see that steam looks like the good guys and they will have a golden age.( They seem to be in it now) I am not a fan of the "buggey app called steam", but thats just me. Offline mode is a joke and I have to log in all the time. ( That is a bigger pain then to put the disk in) A lot of hacking has been going on like with PSN. Steam could be the next one hit. I get 10mbs down and it still takes the "buggey app called steam" 3-5h just for 3-5GB when I could go to the store, buy the game, install it and then play it for 2-3h in the same time it would take steam to do it.

P.S I wish Steam would stop being DRM and they would stick to disk based DRM. Online DRM like steam are all buggy and don't work 25-50% of the time. Why did civ5 have to use steam why?
June 29, 2011 3:34:37 AM

skaz said:
I have no way of estimating something like that. But what I can estimate is that X times the amount of physical games made is indeed a lot of money to a company.

The mere idea I'm trying express is that it is cheaper for a gaming company to distribute their game digitally then through physical media. With that in mind, the question is why are digital goods still the same price or more at times? I can see the appeal of steam and I see nothing wrong with someone who wants/can spend extra money for that convenience. But I for one don't need it. I like my physical copy and have no trouble loosing my keys.


To each their own.



Manufacturers (of anything) do not set the price of their products. Consumers do. Any company will charge as much as their customers will pay. We have all been accustomed to paying $xxx for games. It would be naive to believe that game developers (or anyone else) would immediately lower their price just because they found a way to save money. If they did that there would be no point to finding ways to save money. It's called capitalism.
June 29, 2011 3:49:56 AM

ram1009 said:
Manufacturers (of anything) do not set the price of their products. Consumers do. Any company will charge as much as their customers will pay. We have all been accustomed to paying $xxx for games. It would be naive to believe that game developers (or anyone else) would immediately lower their price just because they found a way to save money. If they did that there would be no point to finding ways to save money. It's called capitalism.


Manufacturers (of anything) have a suggested retail price. Which is based on supply and demand. As I said in an earlier post, my assumption of why the prices are what they are on steam is "simply because people are buying them".

No one said that these "developers (or anyone else)" should "immediately" lower their prices.




June 29, 2011 7:30:55 AM

Patusani said:
There are basically two big hurrdles/problem that keep prices high on digital services. One is that Box Retailers (Gamestop, Walmart, etc) are still where the majority of people still like to buy their games from and two the majority of people still don't have a decent internet connection to make digital services an appealing offer.

To deal with retailers, publishers usually get a certain amount of "free" advertising when they decide to sell their games in these kinds of stores, or pay a certain amount to have end cap displays or posters setup. As most people generally don't keep up with game news this catches those people who were unaware that a new game in a franchise they liked was out. Places like Gamestop that push preorders, whether rightly or not, make the average consumer aware of games that are similar to games they like. Some companies are even saying they won't carry a particular publishers titles if they choose to digital distribute or don't give some sort of timed exclusive to box retailers before the digital release. This is why we are seeing a lot of companies (like THQ and EA) have their own digital distribution stores but even then their prices are generally the same as box stores. However a lot of times ordering directly through them nets you a lot more special content that can sometimes be worth it.



I'm with you on this one. shame really, and I don't think it's lagal the retailers to set demands like you suggest, but it seems like logic, that it happens.

@cburke82
It is not only the production of the physical media that would make Download cheaper, but the logistics involved in shipping a game all over the world, the expenses for stores for storage, and employees. all witch in some degree is gone through Digital Download. All Steam needs are are few servers, a powerfull connection, and a few guys running the hardware.

This is cut from a article on forbes.com:
"Steam's appeal to publishers is in giving them the opportunity to sell directly, cutting out the profits extracted by distributors. Publishers earn a gross margin of around 70% on Steam, compared with 30% via retail stores. They have a lot more flexibility selling through Steam than they do through stores or even a site like Amazon. Steam gives publishers live stats on how customers are reacting to marketing messages or price changes. Discounts on titles, like weekend deals, are common on Steam and have led some titles to see a lasting bump in sales. "

http://www.forbes.com/forbes/2011/0228/technology-gabe-...

So I think Publishers would very much like to see that all games were sold as Downloads.

June 29, 2011 4:15:48 PM

4ktv said:
Steam seems like they never have the "so called deals that no one can beet". I can find just about every game for less on amazon.com or some times newegg.com. I live in the US so if it's not the best deal here well.....

I see that steam looks like the good guys and they will have a golden age.( They seem to be in it now) I am not a fan of the "buggey app called steam", but thats just me. Offline mode is a joke and I have to log in all the time. ( That is a bigger pain then to put the disk in) A lot of hacking has been going on like with PSN. Steam could be the next one hit. I get 10mbs down and it still takes the "buggey app called steam" 3-5h just for 3-5GB when I could go to the store, buy the game, install it and then play it for 2-3h in the same time it would take steam to do it.

P.S I wish Steam would stop being DRM and they would stick to disk based DRM. Online DRM like steam are all buggy and don't work 25-50% of the time. Why did civ5 have to use steam why?

I can name a few I found just recently. I like RTS games I purchased the complete Stronghold pack for $19.99 its $29.99 every were else. I purchased Borderlands GOTY for $7.50 its at least $20 in the stores. I got Far Cry and Far Cry 2 for $14.99 I think both would be $20 in store. I got Total War Rome with all expansions for $10 less than in store price. So there are deals I guess it depends on what games you like. I know most console ports will not go cheap because they most likely have to sell them for the console price. I do agree with you that at time the DRM can be an issue, my comcast was all buggy and I had some trouble playing my games for a second I dont know how else they could do it though, I guess they could just make it so once you download the game its runnable at all times.
July 1, 2011 5:35:49 AM

And Ironical as we speak Steam has put on a massive Summer sale, allmost all games are 25-33% off. Sad that I have no money at all.......
July 1, 2011 3:54:22 PM

rambostyrer said:
And Ironical as we speak Steam has put on a massive Summer sale, allmost all games are 25-33% off. Sad that I have no money at all.......

Yeah funny huh lol. Just got Fallout 3 GOTY for $22 :) 
!