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European console/game pricing - a discussion


Ryan FB
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I don't see how you guys in the UK could own more than one console, the prices over there are always outrageous.
You know, as much as this gets discussed here, it's not entirely the fault of international electronics companies that England has high taxes (17.5% sales tax) which are figured into the advertised price for that territory. It's not like the US where taxes are inconsistent across states and calculated at the time of sale. You also have to consider the average wages and relative economies of each territory. Everything costs more in England, from housing to automobiles (take a base Ford Focus for example - ?10,995 ($20,891) there compared to $13,995 here, or for a better example the BMW 335i Coupe: UK ?33,420, US $40,600), but it's not an issue because their economy is able to handle it.

 

If anything, prices have gotten more fair for them with this generation's systems compared to previous ones, as they seem to be taking inflation into account instead of targeting the final price as being ?=$.

 

Dreamcast: $199 ?199

PSX: $299 ?299

PS2: $299 ?299

XBox: $299 ?299

360: $399 ?279

Wii: $250 ?180

PS3: $599 ?425

 

Maybe this discussion should be split into another thread, since the topic does seem to come up fairly often.

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You know, as much as this gets discussed here, it's not entirely the fault of international electronics companies that England has high taxes (17.5% sales tax) which are figured into the advertised price for that territory. It's not like the US where taxes are inconsistent across states and calculated at the time of sale. You also have to consider the average wages and relative economies of each territory. Everything costs more in England, from housing to automobiles (take a base Ford Focus for example - ?10,995 ($20,891) there compared to $13,995 here, or for a better example the BMW 335i Coupe: UK ?33,420, US $40,600), but it's not an issue because their economy is able to handle it.

 

If anything, prices have gotten more fair for them with this generation's systems compared to previous ones, as they seem to be taking inflation into account instead of targeting the final price as being ?=$.

 

Dreamcast: $199 ?199

PSX: $299 ?299

PS2: $299 ?299

XBox: $299 ?299

360: $399 ?279

Wii: $250 ?180

PS3: $599 ?425

 

Maybe this discussion should be split into another thread, since the topic does seem to come up fairly often.

 

I think you broke it all down beautifully right there to be honest. 360 prices I think were a good turning point as it was really the first time they didn't simply change the currency symbol and keep the figures the same - although with the original Xbox Microsoft did slash the price within weeks of the UK launch and learnt a harsh lesson from that, which - as I say - helped them ensure it was a mistake not repeated with the 360. I've actually never had an issue with the 360s UK pricing. The Wii price is a little bit more than I expected, but otherwise fine. Sony continue to learn nothing with their hardware pricing however.

 

It's actually software pricing today that I have the biggest problem with. It's the cost of a 360 game that puts me off buying the console the most rather than the price of the machine itself. There's little excuse for the software markups we suffer here. They just do it because they can.

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Can you guys get away with going the region free route? Does it ever make sense to modchip a console to region-free instead of buying in your native area, or is that too annoying to deal with (anti-mod chip stuff withstanding).

 

It looks like lately you guys are getting some price breaks instead of the pricing screw job.

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It definitely makes sense to be region-free if you're in Europe. I used to regularly import Dreamcast & Playstation games from the US because of the savings I could make.

 

That's one of the reasons why Sony have fought so hard to make modding illegal in the UK - it's so popular & easy to get your PS2 chipped, then go down the equivalent of the Barras & get copies.

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Can you guys get away with going the region free route? Does it ever make sense to modchip a console to region-free instead of buying in your native area, or is that too annoying to deal with (anti-mod chip stuff withstanding).

 

It's very difficult to stick to PAL software if one really takes a serious approach to their game collection in my opinion, not primarily because of UK prices actually, but delayed (and OCCASIONALY censored) releases, and releases that don't even get a release in Europe at all - not to mention the fact any game from the US or Japan will natively be 60hz.

 

My foray into importing began in the 16-bit days. The simplest approach there was to purchase a conversion cartridge that would plug into a SNES or Megadrive (aka Genesis) and you'd plug your import game into the top of that cartridge and it would play. The only downside to that was that it would force imports down to 50hz, but it was a cheap and easy way to start importing without having to modify the console itself.

 

I was already wary of Nintendo's treatment of Europe at the end of the SNESs life. They'd denied us Super Mario RPG which for me was the final straw. I imported a US N64 and have never touched a PAL Nintendo console since. The Playstation I had chipped because quickly it was becoming apparent to me that there were many games coming out in Japan and America sooner than they were here, and of course I wanted to play them fullscreen and fullspeed at 60hz as developers were not thinking to give Europeans a menu option in games to switch between 50hz and 60hz.

 

SEGA were really the first do offer games with the option to switch between 50hz and 60hz refresh rates. They've consistently offered such a choice on all their titles too, even since going multi-format, though even today other developers have still been slow to catch on. I still chipped my Dreamcast however, as again there were too many games I wanted from America and Japan. My Gamecube is Japanese, modified to play US games at the push of a button.

 

The Xbox had a setting in the hardware to set it for 50hz or 60hz output. This generally worked very well, but there were still some titles that didn't abide by offering both (a lot of EA stuff for one). I did modify my Xbox though, as I think all would agree an un-modified xbox is only half and xbox.

 

The PS2 I should probably have never bought as a PAL machine as for some reason I failed to learn any lessons from my experience with the original Playstation. Having said that, the PS2 does prove, especially for games like Pro Evolution Soccer, that it is good to have the ability to play PAL games when necessary, and our patience in waiting for a game is even rewarded sometimes as it was with Ico and Shadow of the Colossus. Nevertheless, I did recently buy a slim line chipped PS2, which I had to find a low key "underground" dealer selling since, as Brian said, Sony made it illegal here to modify their hardware. Why they had success in court with this, I still do not know. In Australia they were beaten down on the basis that once purchased, it is the consumers right to do as they wish with a product they own. We've been too laid back here and subsequently have been too lazy to argue against Sony on these matters. They claim the PS3 will be region free, but I'll believe it when I say it. At most it might be region free in the way that the Xbox and the 360 were in that it’s up to the developer/publisher, in which case only a handful of titles will not be region restricted. Either way I'll be importing a US PS3 whenever that time comes.

 

A chipped region-free console is really the best option for any avid gamer in Europe despite the price premium getting hardware modified may come at as the rewards will be great in the long run. Second to that an imported console from the US or Japan is still probably the best thing to buy

 

It looks like lately you guys are getting some price breaks instead of the pricing screw job.

 

They’re getting better. As I said, it is no longer just a case of the companies taking a $299 price and changing the currency symbol leaving it at ?299. The 360 and Wii have decent prices here. The Gamecube had a decent price here. Sony are still the only ones who refuse to learn from the past.

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