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Are SA gamers paying too much for games?

SA game prices.jpg

Playing video games is an expensive hobby; there's the purchase of your gaming platform to consider, as well as the cost of new game releases. Last year, South African gamers saw a sudden price hike in games with the standard edition of Quantum Break releasing with a price tag of over R1000. In 2015, console gamers rarely paid more than R750 for a blockbuster release and PC gamers at the most around R500. Currently, console games are selling for R800-R900, for AAA titles, while PC games are going for R550-R700. Last month, SA's Xbox Live also got a triple price hike, which left many gamers with the feeling that they're paying too much for games.

But are we really paying too much for games? While the amount we're paying for games is increasing, we have to ask whether or not we are paying more than our international counterparts. How does te cost of video games compare to other forms of entertainment? Do gamers get value for money, or is buying AAA releases a rip-off? Let's take a look. Please note that all prices listed as at the time of writing.

Local video game price changes

In the past two months, MWEB GameZone has been covering what local gamers can expect to pay for 2016's game releases on the PC, PS4 and Xbox One. In summary, Xbox One gamers will, for the most part, pay less via the Xbox Live store whilst PC and PS4 players are split between finding the best deal via online retailers and the various digital distribution stores. 

Over the past seven months, there have been significant shifts in the pricing of games. In November of last year, we listed a price comparison between PC, PS4  and Xbox One titles that were releasing in the month. Game prices are often difficult to compare, due to the variation in exclusivity, platform and publisher, which all may have an effect on pricing. One series, however, seems to tick all the boxes in terms of consistency with all three aforementioned criteria, that being the Call of Duty series. If we use this one title as a basis for comparison, we can get a very simple grasp of the changes in pricing between the past seven months.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 Pricing in November 2015

US Price (PC, PS4, Xbox One) $59.00

South African Retail prices:

  • Raru: PS4 Standard Edition R889
  • Raru: Xbox One Standard Edition R889
  • Raru: PC R687
  • Takealot: PS4 Standard Edition R899
  • Takealot: Xbox One Standard Edition R899
  • Takealot: PC R699
  • Loot.co.za: PS4 Standard Edition R899 
  • Loot.co.za: Xbox One Standard Edition R899
  • Loot.co.za: PC R699

Current Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare Price 

US Price (PC, PS4, Xbox One) $59.00 

South African Retail prices:

Below you will find all the current prices, as well as the comparison between the retail listing above (marked in brackets)

  • Raru: PS4 Standard Edition R,1072 (Price Difference - R183.00, 21% Price increase) 
  • Raru: Xbox One Standard Edition R1,072 (Price Difference - (Price Difference - R183.00, 21% Price increase
  • Raru: PC R862 (Price Difference - R175.00, 27% Price increase)
  • Takealot: PS4 Standard Edition R1,049 (Price Difference - R150, 17% Price increase) 
  • Takealot: Xbox One Standard Edition R1,049 (Price Difference - R150, 17% Price increase) 
  • Takealot: PC R849 (Price Difference - R150, 22% Price increase)
  • Loot.co.za: PS4 Standard Edition R1,049 (Price Difference - R150, 17% Price increase) 
  • Loot.co.za: Xbox One Standard Edition R1,049 (Price Difference - R150, 17% Price increase) 
  • Loot.co.za: PC R849 (Price Difference - R150, 22% Price increase)

Taking an overview look at the prices above, the cost of the new Call of Duty title has increased between R175 to R183 for Raru, whereas Takelot and Loot.co.za has a price differential of R150 for all three platforms. There is a clear indication that the overall price has increased, while the most significant jump comes from the PC market.  

International Price comparison 

Below we have listed the current pricing of select titles and compared them to various prices overseas. Please note that all the prices below are at the time of writing and based on the displayed exchange rate. 

Price comparison.jpg 

Price listing via Raru.co.za, Gamespot.com, Gamespot.co.uk, EBGames.com.au

These results need to be taken with a pinch of salt as they are using a very small sample of games. That being said, from the above we can see that titles released in South Africa, when compared to the United Kingdom and Australian prices directly, are considerably cheaper overall. The US market standing for prices seems more consistent overall. 

Media value comparison, movies versus gaming

One way to compare media is to take a look at the cost versus the amount of time you can get out of the consumption of that media, to justify the purchase. When it comes to comparing video games to movies, we have decided to weigh the time you watch a movie and play a video game, against the cost of each form of media - in order to get a basic ballpark idea of the intrinsic value of each.

Movie tickets have changed in prices, with the introduction of 3D, 4D and IMAX cinemas, in recent years. As a base example, let's use the standard pricing on a movie ticket without any discount cards or loyalty memberships. At Ster-Kinekor, a ticket will set you back R68.00, whereas Nu-Metro will cost  R85.00 for a 3D movie that will last around two hours. With all the added extras (glasses, popcorn, coke, etc), let's just be safe and say that an average movie experience will cost R100 per person.

Taking a look at the gaming market, titles are currently on average priced between R900-R1000 for new triple-A releases. Taking the aforementioned into comparison we can weigh up an off-hand comparison between the two forms of media. 

Looking at the average movie length of the ten highest-grossing movies of each year for the past decade, Hollywood blockbuster's have gone from just under two hours to more than 130 minutes in length, according to Business Insider. Taking a look at the average length of Triple-A games, we weighted up five triple-A titles (Uncharted 4, Doom, Far Cry Primal, Dark Souls and, Ratchet & Clank) which averages 18.22 hours of game time according to gamelengths.com 

On a brief and idealistic comparison, we can note that you could watch ten movies in order to reach the price point of a brand new triple-A title, but on average you will still have around eight hours less media consumption in comparison. Gaming titles are widely considered to be the better consumption offer in this regard, as they offer a higher amount of consumption versus the amount spent on the type of media. 

Closing Thoughts 

Overall it seems that gaming in South Africa is undoubtedly still an expensive hobby, but it is relatively cheaper compared to both international prices and current local movie costs. That being said, we understand that both comparisons have their flaws, as they based directly on price comparisons without taking various financial factors into consideration. 

Do you think that games are fairly priced in South Africa? Let us know by commenting below or hitting us up on Facebook or Twitter. 

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