Friday, March 16, 2012

Greatly irritated with Diablo III pricing

So the big news of the day is that Blizzard have finally announced a release date and opened pre-orders for Diablo III. I’ve been waiting for this moment enthusiastically since getting into the beta a few months ago, but my enthusiasm rapidly dimmed when I clicked through to the pre-order page.

The last thing I bought from Blizzard was WoW’s Cataclysm expansion. It was the first time I’d bought a direct download from them, after getting boxed copies of WoW and its first two expansions from local stores. And I was delighted that – despite the behaviour of some in the industry – Blizzard charged me the same price as people in other territories, rather than trying to charge what the market will bear.

Well, that policy of not screwing over Australian consumers has now officially been abandoned. Despite the strong Aussie dollar, Blizzard’s pricing now bears no connection to their costs, nor to exchange rates: it is purely price-matching local retailers in order to maximize profits.


Suggested price of $59.99, actual price of $84.10.

The ironic thing is that this is going to cost them money, on my sale at least.

Publishers love digital downloads because apart from the small expense of bandwidth, it’s all profit. Far, far more profit than selling boxes wholesale to retailers. They could have had $US59.99 out of my wallet right now if they hadn’t gotten greedy.

But instead I’ll be purchasing Diablo III through an alternative avenue, which will net Blizzard a lot less money.

Amazon are selling boxes for the recommended retail price of $US59.99. Shipping is expensive, though: $16 for standard or $25 for priority courier to Australia. Still, it works out to a similar price to Blizzard’s rip-off price, and you get a physical box not just a code.

Not much point, though, when JB Hi-Fi are selling it for $A79.00. Yes, I can get a physical copy (either in store or with free shipping within Australia) for less than Blizzard’s rip-off price. Hard to think of a single reason to buy directly, isn’t it, when JB Hi-Fi can manage to pay rent, staff, make a profit for themselves, and still undercut Blizzard by a dollar?

And of course, there is always the option of buying just a code from a code-vendor. Some people are reluctant to go down this road, since some of these vendors seem not quite reputable, but if you want to do it, OffGamers are taking pre-orders for Diablo 3 keys for $A57.87.

It all makes me a bit sad. I’ve been delighted to buy directly from Blizzard in the past, it made me happy that my money was going directly to the company that developed and published the game, rather than a middle-man. But I’m not prepared to pay a lot more money for a lesser product in order to do so.


  1. It's the reason no digital solution has worked well for anyone. Companies get so tied up in the upfront costs of the infrastructure to go digital they forget the long term savings. That and retail stores have started punishing game companies that go digital. If you can buy it digitally then you have no reason to go to the store and pick it up. It's a lot of lost advertising if best buy or your local computer store won't carry their game on the shelf. And if they sell it digitally for the same or less then retail outlets aren't going to risk buying it.

    1. Agreed, although I'd tweak that statement a tiny bit to say that no transition of an existing market to a digital solution has worked well. If you look at markets like mobile phone apps, which never existed in a physical format, the digital marketplaces have been fantastic for developers, hugely profitable for those than run the marketplaces, and very well received by customers.