Video Games | Price | Steam Sales | 25th July 2022 | Virtual Wire
Over the years, we have seen the prices for video games drop significantly, whether it was through the rigorous competition between game publishers or the drastic sales enforced by game distributors.
Although Steam and Epic Games Store periodically unleash a wave of substantial sales across their platform, they are hiding their lowest prices from their United States and European clients. On my recent trip to India, I logged into my Steam account to browse through the weekly sales they were putting on games. Most of the games I purchase are usually under $20, regardless of their status, because I tend to hunt for sales, so I was stunned to see that the sales cut much deeper into the prices of games in India, than they did in the US. However, when I converted the price from rupees to dollars, I was shocked to see that the original price of the game was significantly lower than the US price. For example, Elden Ring is a $60 game in the US, but, when I use the conversion rate of ₹80 to $1, Elden Ring stands at the low price of approximately $31.
Elden Ring was already dramatically undervalued, but now for a low, low price of $31, plus the marginal cost of a $2000+ plane ticket, you have just saved yourself $29. As you can see, Elden Ring’s Indian price arrangement is accompanied by a plethora of other games that have reduced prices. Obviously, there will be a few games with only marginal cuts in prices, such as Activision Blizzard’s egregious prices on Call of Duty games; however, CoD games have always had trouble appropriately pricing their games. However, Steam does not only alter the price of its games in India but in a multitude of countries, such as Brazil, Russia, and Argentina. While Steam’s price arrangements may seem arbitrary, they are carefully priced to take into consideration a number of factors that ultimately add to the price value of games, at least for locals.
Low Living Standards
India is afflicted by a surfeit of ubiquitous social issues that beset Indian locals to such a degree that gaming is not even on the list of desires for many locals. A recent study found that approximately 68.8% of Indians live in poverty, which is defined as living on less than $2 a day. Purchasing food is difficult enough for most Indians, so buying a game would be completely impractical. Therefore, Steam primarily arranges its price based on a market survey that scrutinizes India’s income per capita, and, from there, they decide upon a price that is affordable to Indians. Thus making games a more reasonable purchase that allows Indian clients to savour their gaming experience without worrying about whether or not they made an erroneous financial decision.
Slow Internet Speed
A prominent factor that adds to the price value of games is the slow and erratic internet speeds that all Indians suffer from. In my personal experience, I have noticed how households periodically suffer from power outages, despite having relatively low power demand. A 2022 report revealed that India received a ranking of 115th, while the US received a ranking of 13th, in a global ranking of internet speed. Therefore, an internet speed difference of that magnitude will engender a considerable drop in the quality of the gaming experience, which Steam compensates for by curtailing the price.
Exorbitant Gaming Hardware
Whether you are gaming on a console or a PC, India’s customs duty will force you to spend an excessive amount on the added fees. A 2018 study found that a PS4 in India was 1.6 times the price of the US version or an Xbox One S in India was 1.3 times the US price. These brutal markups also apply to India’s vast PC market and are the result of India’s customs duty. Therefore, Steam reduces the prices of its games to incentivize local consumers to purchase an expensive PC and justify their expenditure by purchasing a multitude of cheap games.
Rigorously Competitive Economy
Video games are not the only aberrantly cheap product that the Indian economy has to offer, because, whichever store or marketplace you set foot in, the price of the goods and services available are substantially lower than what they would be in the US. For example, I have eaten at around 4 or 5 lavish restaurants by now, and, out of all of those restaurants, the highest price for a single item was $7.50; otherwise, the price for most items would usually remain within the $1 to $2 range. Meanwhile, Indian restaurants in the US, such as Rasraj, charge around $10 for main course meals. Similarly, I received a haircut that took approximately the same time and yielded the same amount of mistakes as a visit to Great Clips, and the price of the haircut was ₹60 while a haircut from Great Clips will bury your hand in your wallet for a total of $11 to $16. Therefore, the same competitive pricing applies to Steam, whenever it tries to reach customers at a lower price than local competitors.
What Does This Mean For You?
Before you install a VPN and region switch back and forth to get the best deals, Steam has already implemented measures to prevent customers from exploiting its pricing systems. However, a trip to India can allow you to cross off all the games on your wishlist, with Steam’s low, region-adjusted prices, so that you can download and enjoy them in the US. So, whenever you are feeling the itch to roam the streets of New Delhi, witness the beauty of the Taj Mahal, or indulge in its breadth of flavours, feel free to book a ticket to India and take advantage of Steam’s low prices.
List of Must Buy Games in India (Without Discount)
Stray - Approximately $9
No Man’s Sky - Approximately $23
Raft - Approximately $7
Red Dead Redemption 2 - Approximately $40
Overcooked 2 - Approximately $2
Sea of Thieves - Approximately $11
The Quarry - Approximately $28