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. Pidesco says:

    I guess this will eventually spell the end of me making game purchases through steam. They can piss right off with the price hikes.

  2. Heliocentric says:

    price hikes? most everything is cheaper are you not uk then?

  3. James G says:

    @ Heliocentric

    Is that including VAT? Because I’d be up for L4D at £20

  4. jalf says:

    Steam has never really offered competetive prices for me. Occasionally, they’re some $3 below play.com’s prices, but then they add VAT (25% in Denmark), which brings them far above what I pay on play.com. (Even for Valve’s own games. I saved $5 or so by buying L4D on Play.com rather than Steam). Similar story for the Orange Box…

    And from the comments here, it sounds like their Euro prices are worse still. Yay.

  5. FernandoDANTE says:

    Thanks, Heliocentric!

    Now, to find someone in the UK willing to buy me a copy…

  6. Panther says:

    Surely they are shooting themselves in the foot? given that everyone can compare prices, there will be much moaning over who gets what for the cheapest price. There isn’t the same excuse that boxed copies use, of having distribution costs or whatever, so why oh why can they not just normalise prices?

    Mind you, the only digital distribution I use is GOG, so this isn’t likely to tempt me, especially since I get things weeks or months after release when they’re cheaper, or second hand.

  7. Nero says:

    I like STEAM as a service with the ease of buying stuff, but I don’t generally use it to buy new games (except Valve games and indie games). Expensive enough and adding that 25% VAT (Sweden) the prices are just too much for me. So giving us the prices in Euro will probably make me buy more.

  8. Dreamhacker says:

    DONT DO IT! They’re going to start sending bills demanding your souls!

    :P

  9. Adam says:

    I don’t see any real difference…

    L4D is priced at $70 something with VAT here in Sweden, and €49,99 in “euro”-Steam which is both around 530 SEK. Retail expensive stores only take 450 SEK for L4D and really chep online retailers charge 399!

    Why would I buy on Steam? No benefits at all! I don’t even get a backup disc!

    I’d expect at least half price from an online digital store. Especially since I’m locked into their solution for my whole life…

  10. nakke 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 did the same. Now what’s even more silly is that I just entered the CD key to Steam, and voilá, it downloaded the whole game through Steam and I never had to even touch the DVD. Hooray! Amazon could’ve just sent the 20 digit code to me immediatly for all I care.

  11. Hi, I blurgh says:

    Heh, they never add any VAT on my purchases. Probably because Norway is not a member of the EU.

  12. frymaster says:

    don’t forget most prices on steam were regional anyway (though this was mostly moaned about with 3rd-party publishers; I don’t know if valve themselves kept used a global single price for their games or not

    part of it may be the introduction of this is forcing publishers to re-evaluate the prices. A lot of the time, the prices stay high on steam long after they’ve tumbled elsewhere, mainly I think coz the sods forget to update them

    and part of it may be breakage

    oh, and since all prices of steam are publisher-set, it’d be rare to find it more expensive at retail. What publisher could undercut the RRP and expect retail shops to pay any attention to them in future? none

  13. Pidesco says:

    @Heliocentric: Nope, not UK. Portugal here. From now on the only games I might buy from Steam are Valve games, I guess.

  14. Vega says:

    The new prices are great for UK customers but for the rest of Europe it is fucked up. The games are so overpriced now that it is ridicules. New games are now 15-20 USD higher for European customers then they where before…

  15. A-Scale says:

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

    I’m not invading anyone, and I doubt I’m doing any more to muck up the environment than you are. Perhaps I use more water, if my trip to England showed me one thing, it is that your people shower less. Anyhow, enjoy your 80 dollar L4D.

  16. Frankie The Patrician[PF] says:

    COD4 costs 55 euros nao, hahahahahaha… Oh my God, I hate Gamersgate’s 1USD=1EURO conversion rate and now Steam is going nearly the same way? Time to start using sendit.com and cdwow.com, continental Europe prices are truly fucked up (both in retail and now on Steam even more…)
    Doh, I knew it!

  17. Rob says:

    Another one; Pirates! £6 vs $30

  18. Hmm-hmm. says:

    I don’t understand the whole Steam hubbub. Sure, it’s handy to be able to download games if you can’t easily get them at a regular store (if at all). And if the games on there are more expensive than they are in stores.. well, colour me confused, bemused and not interested.

  19. Hmm-hmm. says:

    *addendum* That doesn’t mean I have condemned Steam to the depths of the fiery pits, however.

  20. Y3k-Bug says:

    @John Walker

    I believe it is regional, yes.

    I live in New York, and Bioshock is $19.99 on the Steam site.

  21. FernandoDANTE says:

    Well, FUCK ME SIDEWAYS, Team Fortress 2 is TEN DOLLARS, this weekend only.

  22. qrter says:

    Why would I buy on Steam? No benefits at all! I don’t even get a backup disc!

    The big benefit to me that Steam gives is that I can download and install the Steam client on any PC, login to my account and download and install any game I own. I can install my games to multiple PCs (although I can only play on one PC at a time – the one I’m logged in at). All of that is, to me, a big deal.

    And when Steamcloud finally works for every game (it only works for L4D at the moment, I think), which automatically saves your config and save files to Valve’s servers, it’ll be even more convenient.

    (And Steam does have an inbuilt function that lets you make backups of every game you own, which you can burn to CD-R and/or DVD-R, so you can quickly reinstall it without having to download again.)

  23. Jonas says:

    Ergh, if I’m not terribly mistaken, the price of Hinterland went up by about 40% after the conversion (20 Euros as opposed to 20 dollars).

    Maybe I should get it before the beta is over.

    Also, interesting that their “localized currency” lists prices in Euros for me when Denmark isn’t part of the EMU. I guess converting to all the different national currencies outside of the EMU or the GBP just isn’t worth the trouble.

  24. Adam says:

    And Steam does have an inbuilt function that lets you make backups of every game you own, which you can burn to CD-R and/or DVD-R

    So I have to pay a higher price and pay for the DVDs myself? Nice…

  25. Pags says:

    Um… how do you normally make backup discs Adam? I don’t know of any games that come packed with several blank discs for you to copy the game onto, but perhaps I’m just unlearned. Not that you actually need backup discs anyway with Steam; unless you forget your password (which I’m pretty sure you can always recover) or something, you’ll never be faced with the problem of ‘losing’ your game – a problem you could face more easily with discs, seeing as you can physically lose a disc.

    Your original point about it being way too expensive for no real benefit is valid – in many cases it’s cheaper buying nice boxes with manuals and such – and it certainly seems like they screwed their European customers who aren’t British. Just your recent line of argument that perhaps needs some rethinking.

  26. Shadout says:

    Will surely buy less if we end up getting screwed over by the euro prices :/ Even though I like steam a lot, and are fine with paying same price as retail, ill pick digital copy over DVD whenever possible really. But not as overprices as a 1:1 dollar-euro convertion would give.

    Because of the low dollar the last year, games on steam has actually been reasonably priced for a while imo.

  27. RotBot says:

    I bought boxed copies of Orange Box and L4D on release for $5-$10 cheaper than Steam even with its pre-order discount. So Steam really has never been cheaper than retail here in America, if you know where to look (CheapAssGamer).

  28. qrter says:

    So I have to pay a higher price and pay for the DVDs myself? Nice…

    I don’t know where you order your DVD-Rs from, but a DVD-R costs about €0,21 a piece for me.

    For a game like Fallout 3 (which I bought through Steam), that’s €0,42 spent on DVD-Rs.

    Just thinking of all the cents I could’ve saved makes me mad! ;)

  29. Rei Onryou says:

    I succumbed…

    Eidos Pack – £53 vs $100 (£77.30 incl. 15% VAT) = £24.30 saved!!!
    Ghost Master – £3 vs $5 (£3.86 incl. 15% VAT) = £0.86 saved.
    Civ 3 Complete – £3 vs $30 (£23.20 incl. 15% VAT) = £20.20 saved!
    Arx Fatalis – £3 vs $10 (£7.73 incl 15% VAT) = £4.73 saved!

    Wow, I just saved £50 through conversions. The question is, what have I now lost out on (where conversion has resulted in a higher price)? Although, for now I suppose I have the choice of UK/US prices depending on if I’m using the beta on site or normal through client.

    Now I know what a shopaholic feels like…

  30. Stijn D says:

    Prices are ‘normal’ in €.
    World of Goo -> $19.99 or €19.99

    -_- And just on a moment I though of buying my games on Steam. -> Epic fail Steam!

  31. drewski says:

    Excuse my lack of sympathy, but Australians have been getting screwed over for a year or so with local Steam pricing. Purely because publishers won’t let Valve undercut their shopfront prices.

    Yay for internets imports – same boxed copy as you get at home, half the price. And no risk Valve go belly up and you can’t play what you’ve paid for.

    GoG is the only DD service that isn’t crap, frankly.

  32. GrantTLC says:

    “GoG is the only DD service that isn’t crap, frankly.”

    After years of listening to people worship Steam as some kind of second coming, this thread has been a breath of fresh air.

    More, please.

  33. Adam says:

    What I’m trying to say is that (Valve game) retail boxes comes with a disc. Digital purchase does not. I can still download the game in Steam if I have bought the retail box.

    So, best of both worlds. If I buy retail, I get a disc and I get a downloadable copy. For a cheaper price.

    I just don’t see how they can justify their prices that way. It’s not really an issue of the cost of Blank DVD-R discs (which deteriorate faster than pressed retail discs, by the way). It’s just an issue of value for money for me.

  34. El_MUERkO says:

    I’ll enjoy paying in £s instead of $s but if Valve take the cash change as an opportunity to rip me off then I’ll happily wait for their games to appear in the bargain bin :)

  35. Raff says:

    Outrun 2006 – £4.99!

  36. Rob says:

    Good catch Raff; thanks.

  37. Arnulf says:

    All I can say to this:

    The British should finally lose the Pound and adopt the Euro!

  38. lumpi says:

    We got a chance here! Keep your foot in the door!

    Valve will be forced to explain why the hell sending a f#&%ng BIT to Europe costs 15$ more than sending the same bit to the US. There’s always been VAT and vatnot, but don’t let this slip away. I’d LOVE to see Steam being the first online distribution platform to have a sane idea of the global market.

    Even if some greedy companies don’t wont to let their inflated prices for us poor Euros go.

  39. Taalen says:

    Nevertheless, they’d have to pay me for letting Steam infest my computer.

    Enough to get another computer solely for that purpose.

  40. Larington says:

    British Pride & the British Newspapers (Interesting combination eh?) would never allow the UK to make a sudden switch to the Euro.

  41. Heliocentric says:

    Bugger are we going euro! We are cheapest on steam mostly. gbp ftw tbh. Also rofl

  42. jonfitt says:

    Try to avoid falling into the trap of treating the currency exchange rate as the same thing as a “price of goods conversion rate”. That only works when you are free to choose ‘where’ you buy your goods as in what currency.
    The Internet looks like it makes this possible, but in many situations it does not so long as the retailer maintains different access rights for different countries. Importers of boxed copies get around this, but digital distribution is easier to control.
    Europe had a nice ride while Steam was only available in Dollars, but now they are separating access in different currencies expect to see your local prices lose connection with whatever the currency exchange rate happens to be.

  43. Arnulf says:

    Hehe. Way to make a discussion lively again. In secrecy I admire the Brits for their idiosyncrasies. So for the time being they can keep their precious Pound.

    Anyway, importing software into Europe inflicts a kind of balance tax. So it’s not Valve to blame but the Eurocrats. But I would be careful to lay too much blame at their feet. As far as I understand it, the thing is that developing software in Euroland is way more expensive than in the Northern Americas. This is a way to evening out the odds, so to speak.

  44. Heliocentric says:

    To me and as for as long pay pal operates in the ol usd i can buy most things in either £ or $. So if they make any one cheaper? Thats what i pay in. Failing that i have thralls friends in the US.

  45. Andrew says:

    Just did a test and added a load of games i want to my cart.

    Total comes to £152.82. Using a currency converter thats $228.355

    Switch back over to Dollars on steam and it comes to $383.82/£256.849

    In conclusion £=FTW!

  46. NutMan says:

    A lot of the prices quoted in this article are wrong. Civ 4 Complete is $49.99 not $59.99 USD and Bioshock is $19.99 USD not $54.99 USD

    Also a commenter said that Far Cry 2 and COD 4 are $54.99 USD which is wrong. They’re both $49.99 USD

  47. Lewis says:

    Original Stalker is about three quid.

  48. NeoXF says:

    I thin you guys should check this…
    link to store.steampowered.com
    Look at the “Individual” price, then at the “Package”. Oh, and did I mention Full Spectrum Warriors is a free game now?

    Wow, Steam is a mess right now, I don’t even know if I’m gowing to get VALVe Complete Pack anymore…

  49. OneOne says:

    I’m mystified at anyone thinking Steam has ever been competitive. It may be more convenient, if you have a large and unlimited internet connection, but ever since its inception, Steam has *never* been cheaper than getting a box from Play, Amazon, CD-Wow or Sendit.

    Now that they’ve hiked their prices by 40% or more in the “Eurozone”, I’ll keep chuckling as their sales inevitably tank into the gutter. Those of you buying £ – get in there fast before they rise again. The USA and UK could end up propping up the whole of Steam as ther marketplace for the rest of Europe’s 650 million people look elsewhere for games software.

  50. jalf says:

    I know a few people for whom Steam *was* competitive. It’s a bit of a special case, but because Norway is not a member of the EU, they had to pay VAT on purchases from play.com, but they *don’t* have to pay VAT on downloaded products, so Steam used to be cheaper there. Which is why they’re *really* pissed now… :D

    For the rest of us? Yeah, play.com was cheaper before, and is *certainly* cheaper now.
    The only reason this pricing fiasco bugs me is that I was just looking forward to being able to buy EA games without the DRM through Steam.