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Counting pennies? It could be worse: you could be Danish

Wednesday, 21st December 2011 08:02 GMT By Mike

Next time you ready a whinge about our mutual hobby, spare a thought for gamers outside Japan, the UK and US – like Mike Bowden, whose lament for our Danish brethren is echoed across Europe.

In Denmark, we have 25% VAT on everything. That means items over here compared to those of the UK are relatively expensive. However, games really do take that idea and run with it. Most new console games are 450-550 Danish kroner. The current exchange rate is 0.87 at the time of writing so that means Skyrim, for example, is about £50. It’s astronomically high compared with the UK.

The last time I wrote something I said I didn’t like games any more: they bored me, I said. That, of course, wasn’t strictly true and was more some desperate cry for some kind of fundamental change in the way games are composed and executed. Now every developer has heard my plea and the very foundations of the industry have been shaken to the core, I’ve got something else to moan about: being a gamer in Denmark.

The fundamental problem is price. Denmark, for those of who don’t know, has 25% VAT on everything. That means items over here compared to those of the UK are relatively expensive. However, games really do take that idea and run with it. Example? Alrighty then.

Most new console games are 450-550 Danish kroner. The current exchange rate is 0.87 at the time of writing so that means Skyrim, for example, is about £50. I can, of course, go online and get a deal knocking an enormous £5 off the RRP, but it’s still astronomically high compared with the UK.

“Why don’t you buy games from the UK and get them sent over?” That was once an option: not any more. Amazon now whacks loads of VAT and shipping on games, so the difference is much of a muchness, and Play.com now only sells games in euros, which puts it up considerably, and more and more people are getting their stuff stopped at customs (as Play operates from Jersey, which is outside the EU).

There are some sites that send to Europe but their prices aren’t as competitive as the aforementioned, and when you’ve factored in shipping it really isn’t worth it.

Then there’s the PC market. Again, the same. So much money. No wonder Pirate Bay is based in Sweden. Seriously. There’s nothing more annoying than hearing “Skyrim is £22.95 is GameStation!” when posting on forums. For those interested, that’s under 200 Danish crowns. It’s 350 crowns in the shops here. Digital downloads don’t help, either. With Steam charging €50 a pop for a new game and no real competitive market driving the price down, it’s no surprise people with a more liberal conscience visit shady sites instead of investing in the industry.

€50? It’s a joke. A really, really bad joke.

It’s extremely difficult to sit back and watch as other communities pay less than half. Gaming retail has to realise that the world is now a tiny place, made even smaller by the internet, and that we all read the same sites, see the same ads and want the same things at the same price. Our markets aren’t that different.

My next point is localization. Or the lack of it. I’m not talking about wanting games for my kids to be dubbed into Danish (although that would be nice); I’m talking about features that seem to be open and available to the rest of the word, but not to Denmark and the rest of Scandinavia. For a start, the recent Xbox dash upgrade has caused quite a furor about the location of the Indie Games tab. Forums have filled up worldwide with complaints that the service is being pushed aside by Microsoft and sections of the community and industry alike are (rightly) up in arms about it. The thing is, in Denmark, the Indie Games section had Kingdom for Keflings and, well, that’s it, actually.

I’ve written to Microsoft, asked people in the industry and so on, but the only response is “rights” – and that’s it. If I was an indie developer I’d be more concerned that my game is getting zero visibility in certain countries using the same service, paying the same subscriptions over and above the issue of decreased visibility – although it is the lesser of two evils, I’ll admit.

Post dashboard update I skate over to my Apps screen and I’ve got Facebook, Twitter and nothing else. There’s no promise of the services given to British 360 owners. How much is a Live sub?

Another Xbox dash change is the addition of the Apps screen. Forums were buzzing about Lovefilm, Netflix, iPlayer and the like. So, post-dash update I skate over to my Apps screen and I’ve got Facebook, Twitter and nothing else. There’s no promise of the services given to British 360 owners. How much is a Live sub? “Well, that’s £55 a year, thank you very much. But you only get to play multiplayer and use Twitter and Facebook, OK?”

It’s as though Denmark has been kicked into touch and completely forgotten.

Denmark is a small country of 5 million people. Therefore competition isn’t exactly at a premium, which explains retailers’ lack of motivation to even begin to compete internationally. If Microsoft’s explanation of rights having been the issue since the Indie Games service began, then I can’t see them investing the necessary time and money into sorting it out any time soon.

So us Danish gamers continually have to sit on the sidelines whilst the rest of the western gaming community enjoys low-prices, special offers and added services at a lower premium. Will it ever change?

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40 Comments

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  1. Talkar

    Dont forget the 48% taxes on our paychecks ;)

    #1 2 years ago
  2. Gurdil

    Hum I get your complaint but you make it sound like Denmark is one of the few countries having those problems because it’s small. We have exactly the same here in France, which is not really a small country, and I know that lots of other countries are in the same situation (a lot of vg247 “complainers” are from those countries). And I think Microsoft is right (to an extent) saying it’s about rights. I mean all those streaming services and stuff don’t even exist in our countries, so how could we have apps for that? The only difference I see is the number of indie games. We actually have plenty of them but that’s about it. Our PC games are at least 50€ and rarely drop the price. Skyrim’s going to be 50€ for at least another year…

    #2 2 years ago
  3. MFBB

    Well Denmark is not alone.

    Pricewise i know that Germany and Australia also get screwed over and some others to.

    I live in Germany, but i have no problems with importing games/movies from the UK.

    No delivery cost (sometimes 99cent per item) or customs fee etc.
    You should try shops like zavvi.com or thehut.com (same group).

    I dont even pay half the price it would cost me in Germany.
    Everything is so cheap in the UK.

    Just bought Uncharted 3 and Infamous 2 for ~40Euro.
    Which in Germany would cost me ~110Euro.

    You are part of the EU, why do you have so much problems importing?

    Even if customs opens my package, they add a bill for like 6Euro….still super price for me.

    By the way, for steam (if you have no UK friends):
    You buy games with a UK proxy server (create UK steam account) for the cheap UK price and gift them to your account.

    #3 2 years ago
  4. Patrick Garratt

    Skyrim’s come down a little in France now. It’s €50 on Steam and €40 on Amazon for the disc. Still, the 360 and PS3 versions are €55 on Amazon. It’s not cheap.

    http://www.amazon.fr/s/ref=nb_sb_noss/278-5969575-2621908?__mk_fr_FR=%C5M%C5Z%D5%D1&url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=skyrim&x=0&y=0

    #4 2 years ago
  5. PapaJustify

    Hi Mike, I have been thinking a lot like you, as a German coming just as a visitor to Denmark.

    But since a few months I live here and I must say that if you are paying 450-500 kr. for a game, you are downright stupid. I was thinking too that the prices for games in Denmark are a rip-off. Of course I blamed the tax system for it. But ever since I live here I took my time and I was forced to look out for good prices.
    And believe it or not: it is not hard to find them. EL Giganten always has great prices for games on launch day. For my FIFA12 (PS3) I bought back in September on launch day, I payed less than I would have had payed in Germany that day (349kr. = 48EUR vs. 55EUR in DE). Games in UK are and always have been a bit cheaper due to their economy and you could always save a few coins. But Amazon.co.uk ships free to Denmark, so its no big deal to get hands on games for a good price in Denmark, one way or the other..

    #5 2 years ago
  6. sleepyfox

    Damn you danes! Except the price issue is true for the whole Scandinavia. And probably many other countries… All the while our local retailers are lamenting how people just keep ordering from abroad!

    It’s still a lot cheaper to buy a new game from pretty much any UK store online. Except that is getting somewhat changed now too for some stores, as there was this “let’s go around the taxes” thingy companies like Play.com were able to use when they were located in Jersey, inside EU but outside EU tax area. Can’t remember the details but now such companies apparently can’t skip the taxes, so it’ll affect the prices.

    “and Play.com now only sells games in euros” – they’ve been doing that for years now.
    Try stores like http://www.zavvi.com, http://www.base.com, http://www.shopto.net, even http://www.game.co.uk has some cheap games sometimes (when our local Game has x2 the price), http://www.bee.com has very occasionally some very cheap movies and games (probably the last few copies in stock). http://www.amazon.co.uk also has free postage if you order +25$, as long as it’s eligible for “super saver delivery” or what it was called…

    #6 2 years ago
  7. Gurdil

    @Pat Sure, on the internet it sometimes comes down but I was thinking about brick and mortar retailers. Starcraft 2 just saw its price drop like a month ago in FNACs, Micromanias and the likes. For example most console games are €55 on Amazon at launch but they’re all at €70 (sometimes even more) in those retailers and it’s incredibly rare that the price comes down before 8 months or so!

    #7 2 years ago
  8. Patrick Garratt

    @7 – I live in the middle of nowhere, so I hardly ever go to a games shop. I’m pretty sure my nearest dedicated games shop’s in Limoges, which is about 60km away. €70 is completely ridiculous. You’d have to be mad.

    #8 2 years ago
  9. Takeshi

    I’m a Dane and the real problem for me is that I want the European version of a game, not an UK import. I want the game that I would get if I bought it in Denmark, and I am not sure that is what I get from Amazon UK. Of course that isn’t always a good thing. My friend bought Resistance 2 for me only to discover that it only had the Danish dub. No original English voice over. Quite a pain having to listen to voices I would recognize from Danish TV.

    PC games aren’t that expensive if you just requent GMG enough and are only looking for digital versions.

    What’s really expensive is console games. Mike is right about the 450-550 kr., sometimes it’s 600 kr. Modern Warfare 3 on cdon.dk is 499 kr. On Amazon UK it’s 276 kr.

    Honestly although it bothers me a bit and I wouldn’t mind it changing it’s just something you learn to live with. I’m sure all the other “victims” feel the same way.

    #9 2 years ago
  10. uomoartificiale

    I’m Italian (ok stop laughin’ at us and just f**kin’ invade us, please). Here the situation is crazy as well, even worse perhaps.

    1) the price for a game new here is 69 euros new (!).
    2) the used marked is stricly controlled, so “bargain bin” is an unknown word here. Used games like far cry 2 still are sold at 39.90 euros (!). No kiddin’.
    3) We have a sort of “right defense agency” here. It’s called SIAE and it should ensure that rights are paid to rightful owners during concerts, public shows and media sales. It doesn’t work (as every institution here) but it gets in the way of everything. For example, every product connected to entertainement (music cds, movie dvds, games…) has to have a sign that says that siae rights have been paid for that item. Result: I buy games from France or UK but I can’t sell it here back to a game store because they won’t be allowed to sell them again as used product if they lack that siae sign.

    I usually buy new from amazon uk with fre shipping, but it’s getting pricey because VAT taxes have been raised here as well. I bought Catherine from the US a couple of month ago. I paid 35$ and 12$ for delivery. Compared to what I’d get here it was still a good deal. Yes, we are that desperate.

    #10 2 years ago
  11. Old MacDonald

    The Euro price is the main reason I hope the whole thing just fails. I’d love to be present at Valve and all the others who are exploiting Euro users with ridiculous prices when/if that happens.

    #11 2 years ago
  12. endgame

    yeah? well we have the same rates in Romania but we make less than half of what u make every year in Denmark so don’t act like it’s the end of the world over there. there r much much worst places to live in.

    #12 2 years ago
  13. YoungZer0

    @MFBB: Where exactly do you buy your stuff?

    #13 2 years ago
  14. matirishhh

    I live in POLAND where average wage is at around 300 euro A MONTH !
    We have a tax rate of 23%
    Games cost 50euro+
    and Petrol cost 1,30euro/L
    and You know what ? I don’t moan
    I buy games from UK, we are in EU so there are no customs charges, plus if You order from AMAZON for more then £25 You get shipping for free.
    Zavvi is also a very good place to get good bargains with delivery at 0.99 per item.

    I’m sorry for You guys in Denmark but You know what ? Who forces You to buy stuff in there ? We are in EU so take an advantage out of that.
    It’s not like we are sending the money to CHINA or something. Money stays within Europe.

    Cheer up and have a Merry Christmas guys !

    #14 2 years ago
  15. back_up

    another lame excuse for PC gamers to pirate

    #15 2 years ago
  16. hives

    #15 – Oh, you’re silly… He’s talking about console games mostly. BTW, it is sad. All countries in Europe which does not have euro as currency suffering from too expensive games.

    That’s why it’s so funny to hear Americans moaning about “expensive” games…

    #16 2 years ago
  17. mojo

    50 pounds? cute.
    the official rrp for ps3 games in germany is 69.99 sometimes 74.99 €. 50 pounds are currently 59 euros
    What now?

    and there are enough outlets who still didnt get that gaming is big and actualy sell those games for that price.
    And even more unfortunately there seem to be enough ppl not knowing that u can get the games cheaper for those outlets to make profit with that price point..

    #17 2 years ago
  18. scratchy69

    Seriously, given how fit the women are there, you have nothing to complain about.

    #18 2 years ago
  19. Malmer

    Takeshi: Change your PS3 system language (or something like that) and you’ll get the english voices. At least that’s how the swedish version works afaik.

    #19 2 years ago
  20. FabioPal

    Come to Italy, they asked me 75€ for Vanquish, and the average console game is around 60-65 euro.

    #20 2 years ago
  21. freedoms_stain

    @11, prices on Steam are publisher controlled.

    I think the main reasons that prices are so good (relative to the EU) in the UK are the dealy with Jersey that allows online companies to keep the prices low, and a general lack of regulation on pricing which allows a bit of competition in the door.

    Really, you don’t see games selling at RRP except brand new games in bum-rape dumps like Game, Gamestation and HMV.

    #21 2 years ago
  22. Lahanas

    Hey, Greece FTW (NOT!)

    #22 2 years ago
  23. Mike

    Thanks for all the comments guys. Good to know I’M NOT ALONE here in DK.

    Also, as far as Amazon.co.uk is concerned, they always add extra VAT when you get to checkout. I remember ordering a PC game for what was listed as £5. I could stomach the 5-6 pound shipping as it was still cheaper than in DK. However, when I got to the checkout, the price + VAT was £9. So that plus shipping plus the wait meant it wasn’t really worth the time to save a few pennies.

    So all this “free delivery to Denmark” stuff is something I personally haven’t seen or experienced. Not saying it’s not true, it’s just I haven’t seen it myself.

    But still, this is obv. a problem that isn’t limited to DK. Problem is, what do we do about it? Stop buying games? A difficult one.

    #23 2 years ago
  24. Mike

    @18: Good point.

    #24 2 years ago
  25. Butcher8

    I’m from Jersey and yes we have play.com based here but a law will kick in next year that will mean no more cheap games for you!

    Still I get all brand new games for around £25-£30 even when I buy from amazon in the uk because we don’t have vat, so hey come and live here where the hills are flowing with milk and honey and the poor here earn as much as the middle class in the rest of the world!

    Seriously though people at mcdonalds here get payed over £7 an hour which is over 8 euros an hour! I swear if my government joins the euro…

    #25 2 years ago
  26. Freek

    So next week we’ll be getting an article by a Dutch person about how game prices are 50 to 60 euro’s and that we have no streaming services? Week after that Luxemburg, etc etc. Untill we have every small country in Europe write something.

    Sure, game prices are high. But the overal quality of living and happiness in western europe and especially the scandinavian regions are some of the highest in the world. The high taxes also means a nice health care system and a healthier national budget that isn’t about to completly implode.

    Have some perspective people, entertainment might be expensive, but everything else in Europe is awesome!

    #26 2 years ago
  27. absolutezero

    Why not look into importing from America?

    Its not all that hard to find a store that will lie on the customs form (http://www.videogamesplus.ca/ for example) the shipping might be a problem but it will still work out cheaper than buying it new.

    If you are interested in sales just find a friend in the UK and get them to buy games for you, gift them over and send them the money for it. I know a few people that might do that morriss at least.

    #27 2 years ago
  28. DSB

    Danish prices aren’t that bad. Looking at the American prices, they might be 10-20% lower, but then an American generally gets paid far less than 80% of the average Dane, doing the same job.

    It’s the same when people start talking about “work hours” as opposed to productivity. The average Dane may work less than more “industrial” nations, but they also make a lot more money for businesses per hour of work.

    In the same way, Play.com is cheaper because it’s located on Jersey and doesn’t have to worry about VAT. Although as an EU citizen, that means you should worry about toll.

    It’s easy to cherrypick facts to support a certain argument, but I personally haven’t had a lot of grief over pricing in Denmark myself. It’s a lot worse with music in my opinion. Denmark and the surrounding countries have some of the most expensive music in the world. There’s no doubt that the music industry is nothing if not self-destructive, but given how hard a time they’re having in reaching customers, they really should take a hint.

    #28 2 years ago
  29. Crab of Thunder

    @25 Been to Jersey a couple of times, very nice place, if a little on the small side :P.

    #29 2 years ago
  30. Sadismek

    @26 “The high taxes also means a nice health care system and a healthier national budget that isn’t about to completly implode.”

    Wait, what? Romania says hello! Huge taxes, an average salary of 350 euros and games at 50 euros, we have it all!

    We don’t even have PSN/XBL support, so we must make accounts in UK to just play online. Getting games from SUA doesn’t work either, so yeah, there are worse places to live in than Denmark.

    #30 2 years ago
  31. mpiwo

    Mike,

    Denmark’s population is 5 million people and you don’t have Netflix and the rest of the stuff on Xbox Live.

    Poland has a population of 38 million and we don’t have Netflix and the rest of the stuff on Xbox Live.

    If you invaded us or we invaded you, maybe our problems would be over. I think the Germans will let our armies pass if we ask them nicely.

    Getting back to the topic at hand – the Polish version of Xbox Live was launched last year and I still can’t buy Resident Evil 5 on Games on Demand because according to MS, we were part of Germany for the last 5 years and their cenzorship laws applied to us.

    #31 2 years ago
  32. DSB

    @26 It’s not just healthcare though, it’s also education and government oversight.

    It can’t surprise anyone that the people who live here yearn for lower taxes, while the people who live in a country like the US yearn for more and better services.

    The grass is always greener. Having used the American healthcare system myself, I’m not in a hurry to destroy the Danish one any time soon :)

    200 dollars for a case of bronchitis.

    I’m also not sure that the Danes would love to have to put aside a million Danish kroner by the time their kid grows up so they can get an education.

    @30 I don’t know if Mike is just well integrated or what, but Danes love to complain. I think it has to do with their love for charter travel. It means they don’t get to see a lot of the world that isn’t designed for them, and it’s easy to complain when you stay inside your own little pen.

    I’d say there’s an overwhelming number of places that are far worse off :P

    #32 2 years ago
  33. The Evil Pope

    I don’t pay more than £20 for my games, no matter the title. Even £20 is too expensive.

    Publishers are taking the piss with such prices at £30/£40 or €50.

    #33 2 years ago
  34. Double2Seven

    lollllllllllllllllllll

    Here in Portugal there are games that cost 69/70 euros….and it takes more than 6 months for prices to go down if they are really good.

    We pay 23% taxes in videogames and the government is doing all crazy reforms and cuts everywhere….So dont complaint because its easyer to live in Denmark the in Portugal…

    And times will get worst :(

    #34 2 years ago
  35. osric90

    Denmark is one in a huge, huge list.

    #35 2 years ago
  36. NoPostOnSundays

    As a gamer in New Zealand, I feel your pain. New retail games usually cost around $120 NZD (~$92 USD). Shipping from other countries isn’t really an option because of our geographic isolation – postage and handling costs are often higher than the actual game itself.

    #36 2 years ago
  37. 2EX08

    “I was mad when I had no socks until I met the man with no feet!”

    #37 2 years ago
  38. Crab of Thunder

    Times are hard it seems, just grin and bear it!

    @37 Very appropriate :)

    #38 2 years ago
  39. speedxl01

    I may repeat myself, but why would you pay yearly for a gold subscription on 360, with that money you can buy a game, besides, if you are short on money your best option is a PS3, now they are beginning to add more full games on the PSN store, there are a lot of discounts, and you can access every PSN store (US, JPN, ASIA, EU) and buy any game without a geographic restriction, you don’t need a proxy or anything.

    For example getting US PSN cards online is easy, you can buy them on Best Buy or Amazon, you got them on your email in less than 5 minutes, you can share the cost of the game with a family member and have the same game on 2 different ps3, take for example these offers on the US Store

    L.A. Noire Complete Edition Bundle $34.99 dlls
    Red Dead Redemption Digital And Undead Nightmare Collection Bundle $34.99 dlls
    Resident Evil 5 Gold 19.99 /2 members = 10 dlls

    In my country games are expensive too, I would not support a company like MS that is polluting the gaming ecosystem and generating revenue of a service that should be free (online), how is that every other online service is free and they charge for it.. Many Xbox gamers don’t care to pay, maybe they have a lot of money, but they are doing a disservice to the gaming community supporting this kind of rip off.

    End of Rant.. for the time being.

    #39 2 years ago
  40. JRNO

    The 22% VAT in Finland isn’t much better either.
    Thankfully for us though, there are ways around it; We can purchase regular editions of games VAT free from Åland.

    I’ve completely abandoned buying games from retail stores as such, because most stores (nowadays ~80% of stores) sell new releases [of console games] at 69,90€. Meanwhile, I can pre-order the game from an Åland warehouse and get the game for as low as 43,40€, postage included.

    As for the lack of services on Xbox Live, I’m pretty sure that applies to all of Scandinavia. I noticed they had added DailyMotion earlier this week, but that doesn’t quite make up for the lack of YouTube [if you were to ask me].

    #40 2 years ago