Australia Subpoenas Microsoft and Apple for Price Hikes

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

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We all know how bad Australia gets it regarding game prices. Your average video game in Australia goes for about $90-120 these days. It made sense a while ago when Australia’s dollar was weaker, but it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense now that Australia’s dollar matches the US dollar. Australia’s parliament seems to realize this, as they’ve demanded Microsoft, Apple, and Adobe to appear in an official inquiry to explain why they’ve marked their prices so high.

Ed Husic, the one who issued said inquiry way back in last May, stated that these companies should’ve known better.

“These firms should have cooperated and been prepared to be more open and transparent about their pricing approaches. In what’s probably the first time anywhere in the world, these IT firms are now being called by the Australian Parliament to explain why they price their products so much higher in Australia compared to the US.”

It seems to have already had an effect on Adobe. Shortly afterwards, the company reduced the prices of its individual licenses for Photoshop and Creative Cloud in Australia to match American prices. Business licenses for those same programs remain unaffected, for some reason. Hopefully, this will lead to Microsoft and Apple doing the same thing, as well as other American game companies.


About Kyle Emch

Kyle has been studying music at college for about three years now. He's played the piano since he was 6 years old and has been recently been learning how to write music. He has followed the Operation Rainfall movement on Facebook since it started and was happy to volunteer for the website. Just don't mention Earthbound or the Mother franchise around him.

  • Hope something good comes from this. It’s awful how much they have to pay for games.

  • smacd

    While I don’t think its good that Australians have to pay so much for their games, I have to question why their government is getting involved in this. I feel that a company really has the right to name whatever price they think is reasonable for their product. Software in general has a widely variable price. Granted, I come from a free-market capitalist mentality, and I believe that it should be the markets that dictate the price rather than the government getting involved. If people didn’t tolerate the prices, the companies would have incentive to lower them to what the market will tolerate. It happened here in the US, I remember the NES/SNES era, when games routinely had a price tag of $70-100 USD, which is probably around double what we pay now, adjusted for inflation.

    • The government got involved because of the HUGE differences, for seemingly no reason. The Australian dollar is currently roughly equal with the American dollar, so why are we still paying double what is paid in America? New home console games are $100, and new handheld games $70.

      And don’t just say it’s shipping. Dungeon Crawl is an Australian store that allows us to save around $15 for handheld games and up to $40 for home console games because they use a reasonable supplier. And why do we have to pay more for downloadable games? How does that make sense? Crap like that is why the government had to get involved. Corporations have been treating us like idiots, and most people don’t even realise it. That’s why the government is involved.

    • smacd

      While my opinion is clearly not well liked here on this topic, I think I’m right about this. Shipping came to mind, true, as well as tariffs, but I don’t think that is the cause. Quite simply, its because the Australian market has tolerated it so far. If they didn’t tolerate it, the games wouldn’t sell there and the companies would be forced to lower the prices to the point where they can compete. Sometimes you have to vote with your pocketbook. Do I think the prices should be that high? Of course not, but I object to government interfering with business rather than letting the market balance itself.

    • I do agree that it is our own fault to some extent. Most people don’t realise how much cheaper it is overseas, so they keep buying stuff locally. But I do think the government needs to step in when they’re overpricing like they are. They’re ripping people off. In the article it said that Adobe lowered prices after the government asked them to explain their prices – a clear indication that they’re overpricing for no good reason. And that’s not fair.

      ^ Tell me that’s okay.
      EDIT: And I just checked, they haven’t lowered the price for that particular product yet.

    • guest

      Fortunately, I live in America, which has a Federal Trade Commission that regulates the market so we don’t get gouged by major corporations. A completely free economy would be anarchy.

    • smacd

      I disagree that a free economy would be “anarchy”. A free economy would self-regulate and competition would balance the prices on its own. And honestly, I doubt the FTC would step in and do jack if the video game industry in the US decided to raise prices to $100 a game. They haven’t stopped previous price hikes, and given inflation we pay much less for games than we did even a decade ago.

    • guest

      Yet the FTC has to step in. Many purchases you make on a daily basis are as cheap as they are only thanks to regulation and the department of consumers affairs (a division of the FTC). Without regulation, the consumers can only speak with their wallets, which unfortunately isn’t enough, as while a minority are willing to speak up, most will not. You’d be looking at a whole lot less competition and a lot more generic product. And I hope you like Walmart, because without regulation, the companies with the biggest profit will make all the rules, destroying the little guys and family owned businesses.

    • guest

      And granted, I’ll give you that if the going price for an item is $100, there’s not much that can be done as long as people are willing to pay it. (Look at eBay or GameStop prices for hard to find used games, for example)… But it the worldwide asking price is going for two-three times lower than what Americans are being charged within an entire sector (notice this isn’t just video games, its all software), I’m sure an investigation would be launched by the department of consumer affairs.

    • guest

      As an example, imagine if the going price of gas worldwide was $4.00 per gallon, yet in America the average price was $10-12 per gallon. I would assume people would begin to lodge complaints.

    • guest

      As far as Australia goes, I think they would buy at those prices simply because they didn’t know any better. Now, with wide internet access, Australians are no longer in the dark and they’re looking for answers. Sure, shipping and tariffs and whatnot may have applied in the past, but we’re talking about strictly digital content and a nearly dollar for dollar exchange rate with America in 2013.

    • RichieBerry

      Actually, gas prices in Europe are typically more than twice what they are in the U.S. It’s because they are very highly taxed. But apparently people in Europe think it’s normal.

    • I’m in Europe and I think most people know that gas is very expensive here and cheaper in the US. Loads of people have needed to start using public transportation but even that can be quite expensive.

      I think the government were looking into the pricing of it at one point due to the price of gas rising at a time of crisis and not falling afterwards.

    • RichieBerry

      Er, yeah, perhaps “normal” was going too far. It’s at least tolerated.

      I would also guess that the reason gas prices might come down slowly after a crisis would be that gas is an extremely laggy industry. It takes an extremely long time to refine from crude. Gas you pump into your car today was probably bought by the refiner as crude months ago, and if the price of crude was much higher back then…

      Also I find the government looking in to it rather amusing. The government can add a couple Euros on top, but if anyone else tries to…