Paradox reverting recent regional price increases

Paradox Interactive, the gang behind games including Crusader Kings and Hearts of Iron, have pledged to undo their recent increases to regional prices across much of the world. While many of the price rises were minor, others were huge. For example, the price of Stellaris in Russia went from 699₽ to 1199₽. Paradox had said the increases were “to make our prices match the purchasing power of those areas” but have since decided they communicated this poorly, so they will roll the prices back.

The changes in mid-May sparked upset among players, I’m sure you can imagine, which spilled over to more gripes about Paradox’s business plans. Yesterday, Paradox CEO Fredrik Wester responded in a public statement.

“In regards to the price changes you are absolutely right. You deserve more transparency and better communication from Paradox when it comes to changing of our prices and pricing policy. Therefore I have decided to roll back all price changes made; any price changes will have to be for future products well communicated in advance.”

He says that Paradox can’t roll back prices during the Steam Summer Sale, as they’d be required to remove their games from the sale, but they will make the change after it ends – which is on July 5th. For people who bought at the higher prices, including during the sale, they hope to refund the difference or reimburse it with gifts of games, if possible. If it’s not possible — and Wester does note “I do not in detail know the limits to the Steam platform” — they’ll donate double the total difference to the UN Refugee Agency.

Wester also noted that “Some of the frustration has been expressed due to our DLC policy and how we handle additional content for our games”. He responded:

“Since the release of Crusader Kings 2 (Feb 14, 2012) we have adopted a policy where we release paid content and at the same time content for free even if you do not want to pay for the DLC. This means that if you only paid for the original game, you still have a completely different game today with thousands of additions, upgrades and changes. This doesn’t mean you should stop giving us feedback on how we conduct our business but if you straight out just hate our DLC policy I respectfully say that we have to agree to disagree.”

I do find some of Paradox’s DLC releases unexciting, especially for the price. But many aren’t ‘essential’, they do often go on sale, and they have funded keeping Crusader Kings 2 and other games refreshed and expanded with free content updates for far longer than most publishers would. Games like Stellaris have seemed a little light at launch, though, needing a good few updates (and expansions, really) to bloom into more interesting and long-lived games.

And because no video game discussion is complete without accusations of selling out, Wester says:

“Finally – as much as I love a good conspiracy theory; to be frank, the whole ‘Tencent bought 5% of Paradox and now they’re all greedy’ and ‘They’re now a publicly traded company and therefore do things the market wish for’ is below the level of intelligence of this community. I still hold 33.3% in Paradox, I am still CEO, board member and avid gamer. All you need to know is that the buck stops here. All problems/feedback can easily be sent my way, I will not always agree but I promise to listen.”

As for what caused this whole stink in the first place, changes to regional pricing, I would probably expect those to return at some point. As a Paradox representative said back in May:

“The reason for this is to make our prices match the purchasing power of those areas, as well as create a more equal price point for our products across the globe.

“Our prices have remained pretty much the same for several years and it’s only natural for us to re-evaluate price points at regular intervals based on the strength of various currencies, fluctuations in world markets and many other factors. This is something that all publishers do and we are no exception.

“Sadly this means that the price has gone up for certain regions and whilst this is something we’d like to avoid, it’s necessary to keep our price point more in line with our other markets.”

That underlying condition hasn’t changed, and Paradox have only said that they handled communicating the changes poorly – not that the price rises were wrong. (Whether they are wrong or not, well, I’m sure you have your own opinions on the many facets of globalisation.) It seems likely they’ll return to this at some point, only with a lot more caution and warning next time.

21 Comments

  1. smeaa mario says:

    Good. Now in Turkey, we are eagerly waiting for more to follow. Activision, Namco, Bethesda, Capcom, EA, Sega, Squeenix and Ubisoft (there are more names, but they aren’t so significant) have all surrendered to one evil monopolizing distributor, which relentlessly forces them to up their prices to unaffordable amounts even on Steam (though it is primarily a distributor of physical media, dvds and whatnot). National authorities are too indifferent to the whole gaming scene to do anything about it. And we suffer. In turn, unbeknownst to them, all of these publishers also suffer, as the community is driven into piracy, the only remedy.

    I know, what happens to game prices in that godforsaken country probably doesn’t interest anybody here. But if I can get the attention of at least somebody relevant, it will be a big win for me. I am actually thinking of sending all of these publishers an open latter about the issue, detailing it at length. For now, I’ll have to make do with just a comment.

    • Lordcrazy says:

      I’ve never heard about this before, would you be able to elaborate or at least send a link? (Not Paradox, just a curious analyst here)

      • smeaa mario says:

        link to aral.com.tr

        This above is from the website of the aforementioned distributor. On that exact page, you can see the publishers it represents. It actually distributes physical copies of their games (and at really unpleasant prices), but ever since Steam started selling games also in Turkish liras, these guys started applying pressure on them to kick the prices up.

        One example I can remember is Tekken 7. It was offered for preorder at around 75 Turkish liras and 114 for the digital deluxe version. Both prices were alright for an AAA game. And later these guys found out about it and contacted Namco to increase prices to match their local pricing policy for physical copies. Right now the price is 149 liras (of course double the initial price) for the vanilla version and 223 for the digital deluxe version. Note that the price increases are not related to the game having exited preorder period. After launch, the initial prices remained for a while. That is of course until Namco was instigated to modify them.

        After Steam started accepting our local currency, prices were usually between 60-110 liras for AAA games, which was quite affordable. Frankly, it saved me from piracy. I dropped that bad habit at that time and am still resisting not to go back. Aral royally screwed us though. After their foul intervention, Steam started launching all AAA games at prices ranging between 200-300 Turkish liras. The problem is that Aral is the only firm here that is dealing in this area (game distribution) and publishers are probably not even aware of what it is doing to the market. They just follow the instructions and believe they are only making profit.

        This firm was actually recently fined by the Turkish Competition Regulatory Authority for fixing prices for game DVDs among major electronics retailers in Turkey. There are even a whole lot of leaked e-mails documenting it. Not linking that though, as it probably won’t make sense, being in Turkish and all.

    • Jokerme says:

      Preach it, brother. Aral can go to hell. Bastards.

      • smeaa mario says:

        Top lel. I know all of this just sounds peculiar to you all. I struggled with myself to not carve those walls of text here, but temptation got the best of me.

    • Antipirate says:

      No one forces you to pirate software. We’re not talking about food or water here. “Cars are too expensive so I had to steal one.” “iPhones are expensive, so I have to steal one.” That argument doesn’t work when applied to the real world.

    • defensestar says:

      Does turkey not have anti trust laws? cause that sounds like a monopoly.

  2. BaronKreight says:

    This is good! I’ve been thinking about this situation. And I thought to myself ‘They damaged their reputation with this’. The only thing they could do to remedy it is to return things back to the way they were.

    • LexW1 says:

      To regain trust they need to do more than just revert it, frankly.

      They timed the price-rises to coincide with summer sales, particularly the Steam sale. They’ve refused to revert them until the Steam sale is over, on the incredibly dubious excuse that they’d lose sale pricing on all products until the sale is over if they did that. Honestly, sounds like horseshit to me. Pretty sure Steam would cooperate if it meant good PR for both companies.

      So you have the choice – buy at inflated base prices with a discount now, and hope they decide to refund the inflated amount – which they’ve made no guarantee of, or buy full-price later, or wait for another sale, by which point they may have brought the prices back up.

      Frankly a bigger problem from my perspective is that a lot of the DLC has not only had bumped-up base prices but ALSO has lower reductions than previous sales. Like 50% or 66% off instead of 75% off.

      • Ampen says:

        About wether or not they’d guaranteed to refund after the sale and so forth, it’s a company based in Sweden, and considering the statements made by Wester they are of the kind that would hold up in swedish courts as a commitment. With the statements Paradox is now compelled to live up to it, the statement is now considered part of any purchase contract made for the duration mentioned by Wester.

      • April March says:

        Pretty sure Steam would cooperate if it meant good PR for both companies.

        I’m not that sure. The probability that a sentence starting with “I’m pretty sure Steam would…” is correct is even lower than one starting with “I know all wars would end if just…” Especially considering Steam must have their hands full with the sale and they wouldn’t hesitate to throw a relatively small developer of niche games under the bus, let alone just let it hang.

  3. LexW1 says:

    I’d just like to say that the “regional purchasing power” appears to be a euphemism for “randomly gouging certain regions with no rational basis”, because there is no apparent actual connection between the regions where they’ve boosted prices, and changes in purchasing power in those regions, nor do the prices actually appear to reflect currency fluctuations.

    The claim that “all publishers” do this to all their products is also, let’s be an clear, and outright, bald-faced lie. Generally speaking publishers only do this for new products, whereas Paradox went through their back-catalogue to do this.

    • April March says:

      That’s my feeling as well. They hiked prices in Russia, and if Aligaming below is correct, in Brazil? Are they mad? Compare with regional pricing for these regions in Steam or GOG.

  4. Alligaming says:

    I am a fan of the paradox for many years having in my collection several titles and dlc (only company that I buy dlc), for the work of updating the games not only with content paid as many free updates keeping alive its games for many years, a beautiful community Active that help not only with mods but taking questions in the forum, and then they come with this, I live in Brazil, we are in recession, never the dollar, the euro has been so high in recent years, and paradox prices have risen more than 100% , Would Brazil be a country with high purchasing power? Now? By the text prices should have fallen, I finally understood this movement as an attempt to change the target audience, so I would like to say goodbye to the community that, like me, do not fit into the new model of the company.

    • defensestar says:

      If brazil is in a recession now, that means that you’re money is sadly, worth less than before. Imagine it like paradox is trying to make their games the equivalent worthof 1 loaf of bread. Now in france, lets say a loaf of bread is worth 2 euros, but in brazil lets say a loaf of bread is worth 20 reals, paradox could charge everyone the same price(2 of whatever currency), but that means in brazil, people are buying the game for 10x cheaper, because paradox can only buy 1/10.
      TL;DR, if youre economy sucks, your money is worth less, and you need more of it to be equal to other types of money.

  5. Ghostwise says:

    Wait, that means that the purchasing power of Russians hasn’t doubled in recent months ? But I assumed…

    Dang, I’m never trusting Paradox again for my macro-econ info.

    • defensestar says:

      correct, the purchasing power of the russians has halved according to paradox.

  6. Fiatil says:

    There’s a lot of really really shoddy understanding of economics going into the complaining here, but good on Paradox for reverting it! They’ve chosen to listen to their community and charge a subset of regions significantly lower prices than the US and Europe — it’s very nice of them, but it’s terrible that the community acts like they’re entitled to pay that lower price forevermore.

    • defensestar says:

      does this make a loophole by allowing steam users to convert their currency into russian rubles and get the games for half off all the time?