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Study reveals digital console customers paying well over odds in EU

Downloaded games still overpriced compared to physical

A price comparison study compiled by VG247 has shown the relative disparity in prices between digital and physical copies of console games in the US and EU, revealing just how much more expensive it is to buy games directly online.

Digital games have always been more expensive on console that their disc-based equivalents, with the long-running excuse being that console companies and publishers alike had to keep high-street shops happy in order to ensure that games, and more importantly, consoles, had a share of the space in shops. However, as console and other platforms swing increasingly toward a digital economy, that distinction seems increasingly incongruous.

With no distribution, packaging or retailer costs to pay, the cost of a digital copy should be much lower in real terms. Even when the cost of hosting and transferring large game files is taken into account, there's still a saving which is very obviously not being passed on to the customer.

By comparing the price of a number of 2014's biggest games, both direct from Xbox Live and the PSN, and from online retailer Amazon, the study has shown that European customers are bearing the brunt of this manufactured distinction. In the UK, for example, customers pay an average of £8.26 more for a digital game than a physical copy on PS4 and £9.62 more on Xbox One. In France, the disparity is even more stark, with an average gap of €12.51 (£9.81) on PlayStation and €15.65 (£12.27) on Xbox.

"If you simply must play a game at midnight of release then pre-downloading games on console offers a few hours headstart, but is it worth a £15 price difference?"

Matt Martin, VG247

In the US, however, digital and physical prices are almost exactly the same. VG247's calculations found an average gap of just 1 cent between digital and physical copies of the games under scrutiny on PS4, alongside a slightly larger disparity of 83 cents on Xbox One.

Retailers on both sides of the Atlantic have made great strides toward embracing digital in recent years, lead by major chains such as Game and GameStop. However, with companies as large as EA and Nintendo seeing digital sales soaring, a tipping point of over 50 per cent digital revenue cannot be far away. Whether that situation will signal evolution or withdrawal by the shops and online outlets like Amazon is undoubtedly the subject of intense discussion.

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