Australian parliament to investigate software pricing

Enquiry will address price imbalance in the region compared to other international territories

An Australian parliamentary enquiry will investigate the apparent imbalance in pricing for online content and services in the country versus other global territories.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the enquiry has been signed off by Stephen Conroy, the minister for communications. A primary focus of the enquiry will be the price of content from prominent online game, music, film and entertainment services.

The enquiry will begin later this year, and the report states that Apple and Microsoft will be among numerous major companies asked to explain their pricing strategies, in the hope that the exposure will motivate change.

''There is evidence to suggest that the innovative use of technology is not always matched with innovative new business models in the case of products and services distributed online,'' Conroy wrote in a letter to fellow MP Ed Husic.

"I agree that Australian businesses and households should have access to IT software and hardware that is fairly priced relative to other jurisdictions ... the global digital economy is likely to make it increasingly difficult to sustain business models that are based on a geographic carve-up of markets."

Husic will be on the House of Representatives standing committee due to lead the enquiry. He has been vocal about price discrepancies in software before, and told the Herald that, "People here scratch their heads trying to work out why they get fleeced on software downloads.

"Small to medium-sized businesses might pay over $10,000 more on software compared to overseas counterparts."

The consumer association Choice claims that international technology companies cite a range of factors for their prices, including local taxes, the size of the market, and the prohibitive cost of establishing a national presence.

However, web developer Daniel Myles calls the imbalance, "the Australia tax; the tax we pay just by being Australia."

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Latest comments (5)

Murray Lorden Game Designer & Developer, MUZBOZ5 years ago
The price of games on shelves has always been higher than what seems fair, compared to the US, ever since the 80's. I've assumed some level of this rationale comes from having to ship things here, and we are far away from most things!

But not too sure about online prices. Certainly games on the App Store, for example, seem to be fairly priced, about the same as the rest of the world.

Not sure about music, seems pretty pricey to me. I'd kind of prefer to buy directly from artists, on Bandcamp and such, and know where the money's going. :)

Indie Game Developer
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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 5 years ago
Aye. You look at the prices of Games on Steam, it's nuts. They get conned more the people buying in Euros. Good to see this enquiry, even though I'm not an Aussie. :)
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Tony Johns5 years ago
5 years late.

Also the change happened when the america dollar started to suffer and the australian dollar became stronger.

But the price of new games still remained as they were back 5 years ago.
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Dominic Jakube Student 5 years ago
Ultimatly the market will sort itself out, the major department stores in Australia no longer stock games and several national tech/games chain stores have gone bust or are winding down.The two indie games shops near me both closed earlier this year as alot of people have gone to importing games from UK on-line retailers like Zavvi/the hutt Etc. at often half the price of local stores.
Gamers are simply not willing to pay $100 a game anymore.
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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 5 years ago
@ Dominic

Have a look at the Steam store, will you? Last I checked, Arkham City was the equivalent of $100us. Whilst it may be that (console) gamers aren't willing to pay that much in a store, PC gamers have always been hampered by the lack of shelf-space given to games, which means places like Steam will still price and sell games at ridiculous amounts of money. :/
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