Steam Goes European – Prices Go Crazy

Pound signs!

Steam is going native for Europeans. Currently in beta, you can log in to the website version with your account and see all the prices in pounds, including VAT. Which brings both good and bad news.

The good news is some of the current prices. They’ve gone a bit mad. The bad news: it might be the end of future savings when buying things via Steam.

So let’s take a look at some of the good news. These are all in GBP. The beta looks at your location and assigns the correct currency, so I’m afraid I can’t work out the same for Euros. Perhaps readers can.

Right now there’s some odd prices up there. Bioshock is currently £13.99. On the US Steam it’s at a mystifying $54.99. Which when bought at UK prices, with tax, would be £42.38. That’s a mysterious saving of over £28. Er, blimey. The Complete Pack for Civ IV is a whopping $59.99 for Americans. That would have been £46.21 for us. It’s £26.99 on the EU beta. Even some brand new games, like GTA 4, have notable savings. US converted price: £30.80. EU price: £26.99. And the complete publisher packs are currently insanely cheap. Fire sale prices.

Edit: Have to include this one. Civ 3 Complete US: £23.12. Civ 3 Complete UK: £2.99. Huh?

Which all sort of leads you to suspect that something’s gone wrong. Which should then lead you to login to the beta page and buy this stuff before someone fixes it. Because even if these prices are intentional, they might not last.

The bad news is the UK is very used to paying hugely hiked up prices when compared to those in the US. In many cases you can swap the $ for a £ and keep the numbers. Steam’s universally dollar-based sales, despite adding on VAT, have often kept things a lot cheaper, which seems entirely reasonable since it’s digital distribution. But publishers must surely have been infuriated by this? Some, like Ubisoft and Atari, have flat-out refused to even sell their games to Europe via Valve’s platform, although have repeatedly declined to explain why. Could it be because they’re undercutting themselves? If your converted dollar price is cheaper than your shop shelf price (or indeed that of your own digital distribution), people can start to see quite how much more they’re being asked to pay.

Of course right now the pound is so useless that the US dollar prices are actually converting to UK rates, which is a tad frightening, and an example of how peculiarly over-priced PC games are in the US when compared to the rest of their economy. So while the forthcoming Empire: Total War’s UK price of £39.99 is obviously quite mad (you can currently pre-order it for under £25 at Game), it does work out to be the same rate as the equally daft $49.99 expected for the States. Should the GBP recover, however, this will become less equal once again.

We contacted Valve to find out what’s the what. Their response? Cryptic:

“The future is now (in beta anyway).”

Interpretation? Prices are coming down on Steam? Not for Euros they aren’t. Bemused.

Right, that’s the closest to economical nonsense I’m ever going to get. But the key thing is here: shit! The UK prices on the Steam beta are CRAZY. Buy stuff!

Huge thanks to Theory and the RPS Steam Chatters for the tip-off.

104 Comments

  1. The Poisoned Sponge says:

    Also interesting: Arx Fatalis and Civ 3 complete are both £3, which can’t be right, can it?

  2. qrter says:

    As far as I can see the euro prices are 1 on 1 with the dollar prices – GTAIV is €49,99.. L4D is €49,99 etc.

  3. The Poisoned Sponge says:

    Not the same for Euros, apparently a lot of the time it’s more expensive, according to the forums. It’s a weird situation.

  4. qrter says:

    Not completely true.. things like Far Cry 2 and CoD4 are €49,99 while being $54,99

  5. Bobsy says:

    £14 Bioshock? Deal.

  6. Ian says:

    If I didn’t already have games I’ve bought and not even got close to finishing I’d be all over this.

    Must. Show. Restraint.

    :(

  7. Luka says:

    euro prices are CRAZY! total rip-off!

  8. Therlun says:

    This wont end well.

    In six months Europe will have its new games on Steam terribly overpriced. That will cause a few angry blog posts here and then almost everyone will accept it and pay more money for digitally distributed products on Steam.

  9. qrter says:

    BioShock is €19,99 which is more in line with retailers here.

  10. JohnP says:

    Bioshock is a tenner at Play at the moment if you’re willing to wait for them to get it in stock, so it’s not like £14 on Steam is a great deal. (Apart from getting it now, etc.)

  11. Naurgul says:

    Note that even though they didn’t just exchange a $ for a £ and kept the numbers, they pretty much did exactly that for euros. Granted, the prices now include VAT but they’re still more expensive than they used to be. For example, L4D used to cost 50$, which translated to 37.5€ meaning you would pay 44.5€ if you included the VAT. Now it costs 50€ meaning it’s 10% more expensive.

    I really do hope Valve reconsiders and decides to leave the base prices as they are. We’re not made out of money, even though the dollar is weak in comparison to the euro, you know. :(

  12. qrter says:

    I’m not sure when Steam suddenly became a “rip-off”, they pretty much always were – they were never cheaper than retail prices to begin with and the prices seem to be more or less the same when bought in dollars and converted, or am I missing something?

    (I’m not complaining – I buy a lot through Steam, I like the convenience etc.)

  13. Therlun says:

    £14 Bioshock? Deal.

    I saw Bioshock for 10 € a few days ago in my local super market…

  14. Colthor says:

    “The bad news: it might be the end of future savings when buying things via Steam.”
    When did Steam ever have competitive prices? It rarely compared favourably to actual shops, never mind online retailers.

    These new prices in £ are actually pretty reasonable, and I hope they keep them. It would be a massive improvement in the value-for-money of the service, as well as actually telling you the amount you’re going to pay up-front.

    Big thumbs-up.

  15. Erlam says:

    What’s with Steam screwing europeans over. Aren’t they often Valve’s bread-and-butter?

  16. qrter says:

    World of Goo has finally gone worldwide on Steam, I just noticed.

  17. rodti says:

    I tried to buy Left 4 Dead from Steam (not a pre-order) and it worked out at £40+ after conversion from USD and with VAT added, so picked up the box for £19 from Amazon. That’s a £20+ saving on a boxed copy from a third party, as opposed to a download-only version from the developer itself. SILLY.

  18. DiGi says:

    Is Steam still hidding VAT? Last update was ugly, I must confirm Paypal payment and after THEN I get final price :(

  19. Björn says:

    FWIW Civ3 complete is still €5 in euroland.

  20. Therlun says:

    I dont think Steam is “hiding” VATs. Prices on the other side of the great pond are given without VAT most of the time, aren’t they?

    @rodti
    Very silly indeed.

  21. TychoCelchuuu says:

    On my US Steam Bioshock is only $20. So that’s not exactly right.

  22. Paul Moloney says:

    Yeah, I’ve bought a lot on Steam, but rarely new full-price games. It’s mainly been bundles on sale – the iD pack and Max Payne for example – and relatively cheap indie games.

    P.

  23. danielcardigan says:

    I think some of the weekend specials made Steam cheap for some stuff but in general I’d have to agree that buying off amazon.co.uk or play.com was cheaper than buying from Steam, 9 times out of ten at least. Perhaps that’s exactly what they’re hoping to address with localized prices.

    link to store.steampowered.com

    £52.99? Oh cheeses… must hide credit card…

  24. Premium User Badge

    John Walker says:

    On my regular Steam, in USD prices, it currently states $54.99. Dunno if this is regional in some way.

  25. James G says:

    Given the currency gymnastics over the last few months (the pound appears to be performing impressive contortion as it dives down the toilet and round the U-bend) I understand why Valve decided to make such a move. Between the beginning of August and mid November, the pound dropped from buying 2 dollars, to under 1.5. This had the effect of raising steam prices by 33%, whereas high-street prices did not change anywhere near as significantly.

    ETA: Reading Euro posters it seems that the pricing system is all over the place at the moment. Perhaps they haven’t checked the Euro-Dollar exchange rate for the past seven years.

  26. roryok says:

    I tried to buy Left 4 Dead from Steam (not a pre-order) and it worked out at £40+ after conversion from USD and with VAT added, so picked up the box for £19 from Amazon. That’s a £20+ saving on a boxed copy from a third party, as opposed to a download-only version from the developer itself. SILLY.

    I agree, I’m a big fan of Steam but that’s shocking. Digital downloads should ALWAYS be cheaper than the boxed version, whether it be games, music, TV or books. in essence here you are paying double the cost for something you can never re-sell.

    Also, I notice the 1:1 dollars to Euros price, hugely unfair since the Euro is worth a good bit more than the dollar and almost the same as GBP at the moment.

    In the Euro localised Steam, Left 4 Dead is €49.99, in the UK store it’s £26.99, which works out as €29.99 at the moment.

    If we try to attribute that to higher VAT vs UK rates it works out as 100% VAT, which is obviously not the case ((29.99/118)*100 = @25, 49.99/ 25 = @2)

  27. Dave says:

    …an example of how peculiarly over-priced PC games are in the US when compared to the rest of their economy…

    Yes and no. On the one hand, my wife is still pissed at EA for asking $50 for Spore.

    OTOH, that $50 in other entertainment fields could have been just half a concert ticket, 4 movie tickets (without popcorn), or 3 weeks of basic cable TV. So games compare very favorably as long as you buy good ones (hello, Orange Box!)

  28. Dain says:

    Empire Total War is 40 quid? Hello again Amazon my lost love..

  29. Owen says:

    Outrun 2006: Coast to Coast is £4.99
    Multiwinia £5.99
    The Longest Journey £5.99

  30. danielcardigan says:

    John Walker says: “On my regular Steam, in USD prices, it currently states $54.99. Dunno if this is regional in some way.”

    Sure that isn’t the THQ ACTION pack? Which is £32.99… hmm. The conversion isn’t so hot but the actual prices for what you get is still pretty decent.

  31. jonfitt says:

    I’ve only recently moved to the US from the UK, and have bought games in both countries and I can confirm that compared to the cost of other things in the US, games are more expensive.
    $50 / $60 + tax goes a lot further than £30, and I would regularly buy my games a few weeks after launch when GAME usually had them down to £20. Brick-and-mortar retailers rarely ever drop their prices either. Games seem to be either full price or gone.

    The conversion rate made it cheaper to buy games from Steam even at US prices, but looking to the future, I think you’ll find Steam matching MSRP for UK games not online prices.

  32. Pags says:

    Currently buying Arx Fatalis for three effin’ pounds, hoooooly craaaaap.

  33. Steve says:

    At least L4D is now sensibly priced, instead of bloody £35. That was just silly.
    Bit late, really – this is how it should have been from the start.

  34. Nels Anderson says:

    I remember back when the US and Canadian dollar were on par and buying things off Steam was an absolute steal. No tax, no mark-up just because you’re in Canada; it was a good $10-15 less than store price. Tragically, that did not last and now the exchange rate is around .8, the prices are about the same (Steam’s still more convenient, of course).

  35. Fede says:

    Arx Fatalis £3

    Probably to compete with GOG ($9.99)

  36. Heliocentric says:

    Uplink/Darwinia Pack £5.99

  37. Heliocentric says:

    sorry for spam

    Rome: Total War – Complete £9.99

  38. Hypocee says:

    Completely incidentally, I find it pretty funny that whatever Google algorithm picks RPS’ ads keeps putting a US Congress Drill Baby Drill political ad into such heavy rotation on a British entertainment site – yes, I know there are plenty of us colonials here, and probably some earthscorching neocons too, but still.

  39. Hypocee says:

    Oh, sorry. One second after posting I remembered the Oiligarchy post. Should have gone there, I r dumb.

  40. BC says:

    Waa! I still get the US version :(

  41. FernandoDANTE says:

    HEY GUYS, anyone up for a Left 4 Dead four-pack? How about helping an overseas pal? I live in Brazil, and our currency is worse than yours right now.

    If anyone is up for the FOUR-PACK, let me know, I’ll PayPal the money.

  42. Heliocentric says:

    Hinterland £13.99
    score!

    its £16.49 over impulse :) ah… £2.50 to be free of any drm hmm..

    I think that’s it from the low end.

  43. Down Rodeo says:

    Hypocee: I’ve had nothing but PKR for the past few weeks. I am getting annoyed at the lack of originality here. Plus it means I can block all of RPS’s adverts with one AdBlock+ rule (which I don’t, even though it does destroy my browser performance. Bloody Flash. I hate it.).

    In other news, watch me spend all my moneys!

  44. Heliocentric says:

    okay £22.99 for the unreal pack (£29.94 on impulse), more than the anthology and ut3 would cost from retail though.

  45. FernandoDANTE says:

    Could someone please tell me how much the L4D four-pack is going for?

  46. Acosta says:

    This may mark the end of of my relationship with Steam as a replacement for boxed copies purchases (will be interested in offers and so but that’s it). I don’t want to sound melodramatic but I fail to see the point of introducing higher prices for exactly the same product an American is downloading. They had already the mandatory VAT, they should keep the exact price it has depending of the euro/pound conversion to dollars.

    I am not going to pay more to Ubi and the rest when I have ways to bring the games here and pay in dollars. Steam was convenient and fast, but I won’t buy anything that I can get cheaper in other market.

  47. A-Scale says:

    We Americans like using price conversions to screw you over as retribution for the tea tax. Surprised you haven’t caught on yet.

  48. Pags says:

    You basts.

  49. roryok says:

    We Americans like using price conversions to screw you over as retribution for the tea tax. Surprised you haven’t caught on yet.

    Whew. Good thing its just price conversions and you’re not off invading countries or mucking up the climate or anything. =P

    I jest, I jest.