Indian Gamers Protest Big EA Price Hikes
Just when you thought that EA had turned a corner and was making amends for past transgressions, they turn around and infuriate PC gamers in India.
EA has changed their launch pricing for some of the most popular PC games that are due out in the fall. The result has seen the prices of some of EA’s biggest fall 2013 PC releases increase by 66% to 133% from prices last year.
So far, the new launch price policies only apply to FIFA 14, Battlefield 4 and Need for Speed: Rivals. The previous iteration of all three games had a launch price of Rs 1,499 which is equivalent to $25 US dollars. This fall, FIFA 14 will launch at Rs 2,499 (or $42 USD) which represents a 66% increase in launch price. Battlefield 4 and Need For Speed: Rivals are launching this fall at Rs 3,499 (or about $58 USD) which more than double’s last year’s prices.
According to trade publication MCV India, EA is trying to make all PC releases priced at the same $60 price worldwide to curb the practice of people using a VPN service to buy games for their Indian prices on India's Origin store.
While you might be inclined to think that it makes sense for EA to make their prices the same worldwide, it’s not going over well in India. One gamer went so far as to say:
That #EAPCIndia hashtag is being used by gamers to protest the price increase. Not shockingly, many people suggested turning to piracy to get the latest games rather than paying an unaffordable price for new games.
The idea behind region specific pricing is to cut down on piracy by making games affordable for people of different economic status than the gamers of America. If people can’t afford games, they’ll pirate them. What EA has forgotten is that any money is better than no money and it looks like money will start drying up from Indian customers at these prices. A 2007 study of software piracy rates showed that piracy was lower in more affluent regions when compared to more poor countries. If you make prices affordable in less affluent areas, it reduces the incentive to pirate software.
Back to the actual means of getting cheap games from India for a minute. As a Canadian, I can tell you that I can’t get any digital games on Amazon.com if I use a VPN. I need a US billing address. Is it so hard for EA to implement the same thing on Origin? It wouldn't stop everyone completely but it sure would make it a little bit harder. Perhaps make it so that game keys issued by stores outside your region don't work on your Origin account.
Also, isn't this Streisand Effect 101? I wouldn't have known that I could use a VPN service to get cheap games from other regions if EA hadn't made a big show of it with this price change. If they hadn't said anything, fewer people would have known how to buy games in regions with lower prices. Good work, EA. You've saved a bunch of people some money.