Prices Rising? Modern Warfare 2 For £40

By John Walker on July 16th, 2009 at 6:50 pm.

A scene outside Activision HQ, this morning.

As you’ll have heard, there’s a game called Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 coming out this Christmas. A game that’s expected to be so huge that other publishers are hiding their games in cupboards until it goes away. Even publisher Activision doesn’t want to launch its own games against it. But there’s one country where consumers might be a little surprised when it comes out in November. That’s the UK, where it’s been given an RRP for £40 on PC, and a whopping £55 on 360 and PS3.

It’s the fault of the weak pound, apparently. And it doesn’t look likely to stop at Activision. According to an MCV report, “retailers have been warned that other publishers are likely to follow suit.” They go on to quote THQ’s Ian Curran who explained that a combination of factors is leading to a hike in prices.

“Exchange rates between the Euro and the pound are making it very difficult for publishers to show an acceptable operating margin in the UK. You can’t continue to trade as normal when the biggest territory in Europe has seen cost of goods increase by 30 per cent due to the strengthening of the Euro… Also, development costs for next gen software has increased at a time when the take-up on these machines is slower than expected and therefore the opportunity to sell more units is limited. The increase in cost of goods due to the weak pound has added to this burden, and therefore something has to happen to ensure publishers’ return on their investment.”

(Read the full article on MCV to get the rest of the quotes.)

The consequences of this, especially if the increases spread across all games (and think about it – if one publisher is going to raise prices by a tenner, every publisher is going to try the same), will be very interesting. It would seem reasonable to expect that the proportion of people to spend £55 on a game (or £40 on the PC version, of course) is going to be significantly lower than those willing or able to spend ten pounds less. It really is a quite extraordinary amount of money.

Things get more confusing when you consider digital distribution. The point here isn’t that it’s expensive to distribute in the UK. It’s that the money that comes in for it isn’t worth enough once exchanged into Euro. So presumably online prices will be similarly high. But is the audience going to stump up? Clearly MW2 is a massively anticipated game across all three major formats, and a big mainstream audience is gagging to get at it. But pricing like this flies wildly in the face of everything that the trends are currently suggesting. As the iPhone rockets into the stratosphere, making people rich on their 79p games, and while Steam regularly demonstrates that halving the price of a game far more than doubles the sales, is launching a AAA game into a recession-hit market at a 25 to 35% higher price than the norm going to be effective?

Of course, there’s always the perspective that game prices have only ever come down. PC games cost less today than they did 15 years ago (mid-90s RRPs were around £40 to £50 for PC games), and have stayed at £30 to £35 while everything else has gradually become more expensive. This can be somewhat countered by the, “Bloody hell, £30 is a LOT of money for a game” position. Render this in capital letters for the £40 version.

Earlier purchasers will notice that retailers are selling the games at pre-order prices that match standard game shelf prices if you order now before they’re released.

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350 Comments »

  1. Adventurous Putty says:

    That sucks; hope it doesn’t spread to the US.

  2. JKjoker says:

    so, games get shorter and we get to pay more for them, awesome, what could possibly go wrong ?

  3. Vinraith says:

    Heh, I still haven’t bought Modern Warfare 1 because the price has never dropped to my satisfaction.

  4. shiggz says:

    I’m sure none of you Brits took joy when America was struggling with a weak dollar last year, thus i shall take no joy in your suffering now.

    That said lets hope David Cameron can save UK from itself the world needs a strong US and a strong UK.

  5. dhex says:

    dang. at current exchange rates that’s 65 bucks (USD) for a game. now, i believe some consoles charge 60USD for their new AAA titles (xbox or sony i think), but on pc 50 is where things have been for new releases for a long time.

  6. Mil says:

    Funny how the weakening of the dollar with respect to the euro didn’t seem to have any effect on American or European prices.

  7. Flappybat says:

    Wow, imagine what piracy figures are going to be like after this.

  8. Serondal says:

    Though this has no direct effect on me (being in the US) I do feel like they’d be better off trying to re-coup their money in a diffrent way. I don’t know exactly how but maybe setting up some offices and production in the UK might help?

  9. the affront says:

    CoD4 was already on steam for $70 for us 3rd world Europeans back when you could pay in $, iirc.
    Just another case of “let’s milk the fanboys, because we can! oh and please pirate our stuff, by the way!”

  10. Tim James says:

    In a Trine thread on QT3 I commented on how only the big dogs are able to try to change price points. Looks like one is about to try!

  11. AlexW says:

    This is an acceptable argument. Oh no wait, it’s no longer 2006 and this is not an entirely new engine.

  12. Archonsod says:

    “It would seem reasonable to expect that the proportion of people to spend £55 on a game (or £40 on the PC version, of course) is going to be significantly lower than those willing or able to spend ten pounds less.”

    And the proportion of people raising the Jolly Roger will be significantly higher too I bet …

  13. John Walker says:

    Eight comments in and an Australian hasn’t told me off for how crazy their prices are. Come on Australians!

  14. Legionary says:

    I will not be purchasing MW2, then. And if they don’t want to see soaring piracy figures, they’d better have some hardcore DRM.

  15. Dead Fish says:

    That sucks. :/

    And it only adds to my suspicion that the Night Vision Goggles Edition of MW2 will be the most expensive/silly game pack ever put on shelves…

  16. Serondal says:

    I’m surprised no one has tried making DRM that doesn’t do anything until you try and rip the game then it calls the local police and has them come arrest you ;P

  17. bansama says:

    £40? That’s still relatively cheap! Wait till publishers do what they do here and attempt to charge you £50 for most console games. Increase the price by say £10 to £20 for PC games then reduce the availability of PC games to basically 1 or 2 new domestically released titles a year (oh and only sell them in London) and top that off with zero price reductions ever.

    Then arrive at the conclusion that it’s cheaper to buy via import than domestically and you’ll know what we’ve been dealing with for years. =)

  18. teo says:

    I don’t get game pricing, I really don’t
    I think 50€ is a lot to pay for a game and I very rarely pay that much nowadays, but then I see people saying that they’ve pre-ordered the 150$ edition of MW2 because it comes with a pair of NVGs. One of the reasons I’m not interested in consoles is because the prices on their games are higher and they never seem to come down. I can’t understand how people are willing to pay so much

  19. cyrenic says:

    Along with piracy, stuff like this makes used games sales that much more attractive. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot.

  20. ilves says:

    yea, i also haven’t bought the first one since it still costs $40 at minimum… maybe that price will drop when the 2nd comes out and I can play the first one, then play the second one like 4 years later.

  21. FunkyLlama says:

    CoD4′s campaign lasted about five hours… if this one is as short… well… I imagine more than a few people would be a little unhappy about paying £55 for 5 hours of gameplay. (yes, I realise people don’t like reducing a game to a simple measurement of its duration, and that multiplayer is a factor as well, but still… eek)

  22. Serondal says:

    Wait a second, let me get this straight. If you buy the 150 $ version you get REAL night vision goggles? How much does a similiar pair of NVGs cost without the game?

  23. JKjoker says:

    don’t forget about the very probable DLCs, probably doubling or tripling the price

  24. Hardtarget says:

    aw boo hoo for the UK

    Prices raised by 10 bucks over a year ago across the board in Canada for all games due to a weak dollar, it sucks but thems the breaks.

    by the way don’t expect the prices to ever go back down, when our dollar got strong again the inflation stayed.

  25. BarkingDog says:

    I’m going to pirate the hell out of this. But I suspect it’s because I don’t expect much replay value from it (I know the multiplayer’s going to be awesome but I’m still not going there) and £40 for something which will last me a weekend or so strikes me as a tiny bit too dear. Unless they have a brilliant zombie mode. Then I’ll buy it.

  26. Serenegoose says:

    hah! I won’t be buying it til it’s £20ish, so that they want to retail it for much higher is irrelevant to me. Still, call of duty has been getting shorter, and shorter, and shorter, so consider me cynical as to their motives, and concrete in my desire to not financially reward them for it.

  27. BarkingDog says:

    @Hardtarget- but aren’t your dollars worth about 50p?

  28. Hardtarget says:

    so I just did some conversion
    $70CDN (which is what we now pay for games) = 38 pounds. So basically now you’re paying the same as us. oh on, the horror!

  29. Radiant says:

    Can’t they at least pretend that the contents of the box justify the price?
    Like throw in a pity ‘extras’ dvd or something damnit!
    SF4 squeezed people out of £60 for the abysmal ‘collectors’ 360 edition; which comprised of two 3 inch figurines [left over from an e3 goody bag?] and a strategy guide which…well it was more a strategy pamphlet.

    I had more reading material from the pizza delivery menu that came with the same mail.

  30. Jeremy says:

    That seems strange, talking about weakening currency, as our US dollar has been weakening for quite awhile (at least 50 years). Still, games will cost $50 for us, which is somewhere around 30 of yonder pounds. Can’t imagine why you guys would be seeing a 10 pound increase, based solely on the value of Euros, especially since our dollar is laughable compared to the value of a pound, let alone a Euro. Not fair in my opinion.

  31. the affront says:

    At a 100 bucks for their AWESOME night vision goggles they should market them with “ze goggles! zey do nothing!”. Sounds like a scam, like 95% of all bundles, ever.

    I’d LOVE to see a review by some guy who knows his stuff about ze goggles comparing their quality and price to other, “serious” goggles.

  32. l1ddl3monkey says:

    As the first game wasn’t actually that great and the online was just a grenade dodging simulator I think I can safely say that Activision can stuff their £40 price tag up their collectively over priced arse.

    Charging £40 for a game will only catch on if mugs pay it.

  33. Radiant says:

    Wait what’s this about a $150 version with nvgs?
    The fuck?
    Have people lost their minds?!?
    *pre orders from amazon*

  34. Clovus says:

    I assume this strategy will actually work on the consoles, especially for this genre. I think a lot of people play mostly the multiplayer part with a group. It only takes one or two of the group who don’t care about price to pretty much force the whole group to join. You don’t want to be the lone dork still playing COD4, do you?

    On PC, I think the audience is different. And by different I mean smarter. If PC games starting retailing for $75 bucks in the US, I just wouldn’t buy them. I don’t buy them at the normal $50 price point anyway. The big MP games are heavily moddable, so there is not such a strong need to move onto something else. The PC also has a gigantic collection of easy to secure (digitally) games that can be played until prices drop. I actually own like 3 games right now that I haven’t even played.

    Regardless of the actual piracy (which will increase to a degree), if there is a huge gap between console and PC players paying up it will definitely be sited as proof of a piracy problem. Luckily England would never try to pass crazy 3 strikes laws like France right? Hahahahahaha…..

  35. Duouk2000 says:

    Yeah, I’m not paying that. £30 is too much as it is and the £35 they’ve been trying to bump their prices up to for a while now is unacceptable. £25 is the max I’ll ever pay for any game.

  36. Larington says:

    I’m somewhat unimpressed by this, games are supposed to be moving closer to prices that would result in massive impulse buys, to higher sales, not further away from it.

    I cannot support being charged more for my games, it’s the business model that is broken, not the retail model.

  37. Katsumoto says:

    Yeah, I also never spend more than £25 on games these days, me thinks it will be a while before I bother picking this up. Considering World of War is only just coming down to that sort of price range now I fear it will be a while! Call of Duty games seem to stick to their original pricing for a lot longer than other games.

  38. Heliocentric says:

    Hello, I’m (not) a representive of activision. As such i would like to explain to price point as only a person in my position can.

    A dog can lick its balls, some theorise thats why it does it, but i want to push a theory of my own. The dog benefits from licking its balls, probably even likes it. (T)Here at activision we(read as they) like money, call of duty is a dope cash cow, activision benefit from milk, activision might even like milk.

    Also money.

  39. unclelou says:

    I’ve been paying 40 quid and more (at the current exchange rate) for PC games for years.

    I am not Australian, but that’ll have to do for now. ;)

  40. Andrew Wills says:

    Wow… I’m out too, £40 is too much. Big shame, as I was looking forward to this. Like a previous poster, the fact that they still haven’t brought down the price of the first Modern Warfare game, has kept me from purchasing.

  41. teo says:

    About the NVGs
    “Real” NVGs cost reeaaally much and they’re really sensitive pieces of equipment. If they’re exposed to daylight they break, and the ones they were showing off here didn’t have anything covering the lens. I doubt they work very well

    Besides, the reason they’re there is because the profit margin on them is much bigger than on the game. The whole point of them is to be a bad deal because that’s how they make money, just like with the plastic guitars and whatnot

  42. teo says:

    Btw, I don’t have any issues with pirating Activision games because they’re so damn anti consumer. I waited more than a full year for them to drop the price or at least give a good weekend deal on CoD4, but nope. So I downloaded it and was fairly disappointed with it, but I don’t feel bad about doing that. I don’t have a problem with buying games from people I like supporting or from people who make an effort to try to sell you something.

    It’s not Activision’s fault that I pirated it, clearly it was my own choice, but it’s their own fault that I never bought it.

  43. Dante says:

    Well I was wondering which of the holiday glut games I was going to pass up on until next year. Guess that call has been made for me.

  44. Cigol says:

    I think I paid more than that for the original ‘Modern Warfare’ over STEAM. Oh and shouldn’t this have a ‘piracy’ tag for completionists sake?

  45. Serondal says:

    wtf is a quid and how do they relate to pounds? I’ve been confused on this ever since I saw Shawn of the Dead but I’ve kept my mouth shut until now. Maybe I look at WikiUK to see the difference.

  46. Serondal says:

    The full, official name, pound sterling, (plural: pounds sterling) is used mainly in formal contexts and also when it is necessary to distinguish the United Kingdom currency from other currencies with the same name. Otherwise the term pound is normally used. The currency name is sometimes abbreviated to just sterling, particularly in the wholesale financial markets, but not when referring to specific amounts; for example, “Payment is accepted in sterling” but never “These cost five sterling”.[5][6] The abbreviations “ster.” or “stg.” are sometimes used. The term British pound is commonly used in less formal contexts, although it is not an official name of the currency. A common slang term is quid (singular and plural) which is thought to derive from the Latin phrase “quid pro quo”.

  47. seras says:

    not a big concern for me, will be buying the game anyway.

  48. The Apologist says:

    Ahaha…no, not buying.

  49. Serondal says:

    ^ Waiting for that UK John guy or whatever his name is to show up and say this is another example that shows PC Gaming is dieing in the west and will be replaced totally by console games.