The higher price of digital games on Xbox One and PS4 laid bare

Wednesday, 12 November 2014 10:01 GMT By Matt Martin

A year since the new-gen consoles released and anyone in mainland Europe and the UK buying games directly from the format holders are being ripped off.

20131211_ps4_xbox_one_controllers

Last week we discussed the raw deal that console owners buying the digital versions of games are going through on release day and beyond. This week we wanted to look at the numbers behind the prices of digital and physical games, to see if there’s still a significant disparity between the two on next-gen consoles.

In short, there’s a huge gap.

We looked at the pricing of five multiformat console releases in November on Xbox One and PS4; Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, Far Cry 4, Dragon Age: Inquisition, Grand Theft Auto V and Assassin’s Creed Unity. We also looked at one exclusive on each console; Halo: The Master Chief Collection for Xbox One and LittleBigPlanet 3 for PS4.

Comparing the titles across multiple regional stores, both digital and physical, it’s clear that physical games are still significantly better value for UK and European players. Here’s a summary in a handy infographic, looking at the average price of the games in our list:

Untitled Infographic (Conflict Copy) Copy

Highlights

Pulling out pricing in specific countries, we can see the following savings and disparities between physical and digital prices:

  • If you were to buy all the games on our list in the UK on PS4 it would cost you £270.36 on disc and £319.94 on digital formats. That’s a saving of £49.59.
  • If you were to buy all the games on our list in the UK on Xbox One it would cost you £260.19 on disc and £324.94 on digital formats. That’s a saving of £69.75.
  • In stark contrast in the US, the differences between physical and digital prices is marginal. All the PS4 games on our list cost $354.39 for the physical versions and $354.70 for the digital versions. A saving of only $0.31.
  • France is the region in mainland Europe with the biggest pricing disparity – there’s a €67.10 difference between prices on the list of physical and digital games on PS4, and €80.90 on the Xbox One.
  • In Germany there’s a little saving for buying PS4 games on disc – €404.90 – rather than digital – €409.94. Xbox One owners get much better savings – €399.90 for physical and €419.94 for digital.
  • In the UK, the difference between physical and digital prices ranges from between £0.46 and £15.14. In all cases digital prices are higher.
  • Xbox One digital game prices in Germany, France, Spain and Italy are universal at €69.99, and yet physical prices can be cheaper by more than €13.
  • The biggest price disparity we can see is for Dragon Age: Inquisition. The UK digital price is £54.99, but a physical copy will only cost £39.85 – a saving of £15.14.
  • Sony’s partnership with Rockstar/Take-Two means that one week before release GTA V still isn’t available to preorder digitally in some regions on the Xbox One.
  • LittleBigPlanet 3 is more expensive on physical formats in Italy, France and Germany, bucking the trends seen elsewhere.

November’s blockbuster release prices in full:

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare

call_of_duty_advanced_warfare

PS4

U.S.
Digital price: $54.75
Physical price: $54.50

U.K.
Digital price: £49.99
Physical price: £49.53

Germany
Digital price: €69.99
Physical price: €59.99

France
Digital price: €69.99
Physical price: €53.69

Spain
Digital price: €69.99
Physical price: €59.90

Italy
Digital price: €69.99
Physical price: €61.90

Xbox One

U.S.
Digital price: $59.75
Physical price: $64.73

U.K.
Digital price: £54.99
Physical price: £48.49

Germany
Digital price: €69.99
Physical price: €59.99

France
Digital price: €69.99
Physical price: €54.29

Spain
Digital price: €69.99
Physical price: €59.90

Italy
Digital price: €69.99
Physical price: €59.99

Grand Theft Auto 5

gta_online_money

PS4

U.S.
Digital price: $59.99
Physical price: $59.96

U.K.
Digital price: £54.99
Physical price: £44.00

Germany
Digital price: €69.99
Physical price: €69.95

France
Digital price: €69.99
Physical price: €48.79

Spain
Digital price: €69.99
Physical price: €59.29

Italy
Digital price: €69.99
Physical price: €64.99

Xbox One

U.S.
Digital price: $59.99
Physical price: $59.96

U.K.
Digital price: £54.99
Physical price: £44.00

Germany
Digital price: Unavailable to preorder
Physical price: €69.99

France
Digital price: Unavailable to preorder
Physical price: €48.79

Spain
Digital price: Unavailable to preorder
Physical price: €59.29

Italy
Digital price: Unavailable to preorder
Physical price: €64.99

Assassin’s Creed Unity

assassins_creed_unity_1

PS4

U.S.
Digital price: $59.99
Physical price: $59.99

U.K.
Digital price: £54.99
Physical price: £44.99

Germany
Digital price: €69.99
Physical price: €69.95

France
Digital price: €69.99
Physical price: €53.99

Spain
Digital price: €69.99
Physical price: €59.29

Italy
Digital price: €69.99
Physical price: €59.99

Xbox One

U.S.
Digital price: $59.99
Physical price: $59.99

U.K.
Digital price: £54.99
Physical price: £44.00

Germany
Digital price: €69.99
Physical price: €69.95

France
Digital price: €69.99
Physical price: €53.99

Spain
Digital price: €69.99
Physical price: €59.29

Italy
Digital price: €69.99
Physical price: €59.99

Far Cry 4

far_cry_41

PS4

U.S.
Digital price: $59.99
Physical price: $59.99

U.K.
Digital price: £54.99
Physical price: £44.00

Germany
Digital price: €69.99
Physical price: €69.99

France
Digital price: €69.99
Physical price: €54.89

Spain
Digital price: €69.99
Physical price: €59.29

Italy
Digital price: €69.99
Physical price: €59.99

Xbox One

U.S.
Digital price: $59.99
Physical price: $59.99

U.K.
Digital price: £54.99
Physical price: £44.00

Germany
Digital price: €69.99
Physical price: €69.99

France
Digital price: €69.99
Physical price: €54.98

Spain
Digital price: €69.99
Physical price: €54.95

Italy
Digital price: €69.99
Physical price: €59.99

Dragon Age: Inquisition

dragon_age_inquisition

PS4

U.S.
Digital price: $59.99
Physical price: $59.96

U.K.
Digital price: £54.99
Physical price: £39.85

Germany
Digital price: €69.99
Physical price: €64.99

France
Digital price: €69.99
Physical price: €57.00

Spain
Digital price: €69.99
Physical price: €59.29

Italy
Digital price: €69.99
Physical price: €59.99

Xbox One

U.S.
Digital price: $59.99
Physical price: $59.96

U.K.
Digital price: £54.99
Physical price: £39.85

Germany
Digital price: €69.99
Physical price: €64.99

France
Digital price: €69.99
Physical price: €57.00

Spain
Digital price: €69.99
Physical price: €59.29

Italy
Digital price: €69.99
Physical price: €59.99

Halo: The Master Chief Collection

halo_the_master_chief_collection

Xbox One

U.S.
Digital price: $59.99
Physical price: $59.96

U.K.
Digital price: £44.99
Physical price: £39.85

Germany
Digital price: €69.99
Physical price: €69.00

France
Digital price: €69.99
Physical price: €56.99

Spain
Digital price: €64.99
Physical price: €56.96

Italy
Digital price: €69.99
Physical price: €59.99

LittleBigPlanet 3

littlebigplanet_3

PS4

U.S.
Digital price: $59.99
Physical price: $59.99

U.K.
Digital price: £49.99
Physical price: £47.99.

Germany
Digital price: €59.99
Physical price: €69.99

France
Digital price: €59.99
Physical price: €66.49

Spain
Digital price: €59.99
Physical price: €56.91

Italy
Digital price: €59.99
Physical price: €65.99

Summary:

When you consider that digital delivery of games is on the increase, it seems backwards of the format holders not to have at least price parity with retailers such as Amazon in an effort to compete. Margins should already be higher as there’s no physical box, distribution or warehouse costs for digital games. Not only do PSN and Xbox Live charge more for their games, there are fewer price matches after release day. So physical retail is able to undercut once again, whether through price-matching, promotions or second hand sales. It’s clear that Sony and Microsoft are not retailers. Pricing is far too high for console games on PSN and XBL, and there seems very few other incentives to buy digitally either. If you simply must play a game at midnight of release then pre-downloading games on console offers a few hours headstart, but is it worth a £15 price difference?

The real question is if there’s no difference between digital and physical game prices in the US, why is there such a gap in the UK and Europe? In countries such as France in particular, the price difference for physical discs is so much cheaper any consumer would be foolish to opt for digital.

If the convenience of digital downloads is a myth, the price of digital downloads is extortionate.

A note or two on methodology: We chose 5 multiformart titles due for release in November 2014, as well as one big exclusive for both the Xbox One and PS4. We chose the standard editions of all the games.

The PS4 prices are from PSN, the Xbox One prices are from Xbox Live.

Physical prices are taken from Amazon US, UK, Germany, Spain, France and Italy.

All prices were correct at the time of going to press, 11-11-14.

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