If there was ever a dereliction of duty in reporting, I think this is it. Last week, GOG.com announced they would be making three newer titles available for pre-order, in line with their strategic push into newer games. This was accompanied by the news that they will use a regional pricing structure, meaning that US, European and Australian customers would be charged differently for the same digital title. The same structure will be rolled out to the existing classics catalogue.
As of writing, it appears that South Africa has dodged that bullet (not for long though — keep reading). Elsewhere, tempers flared a little bit — enough that Guillaume Rambourg, managing director for GOG, yesterday published a letter to customers outlining the company’s strategy going forward for new titles, the existing catalogue, and the “necessary evil” that is regional pricing.
GOG has apparently already gathered up most of the available classics that are legally obtainable, barring those of big hitters like LucasArts and Bethesda. “We need to sign newer games or else just fire everyone and keep selling the same limited catalogue,” says Rambourg. And in order to do that they needed a compromise for the opportunity to convince publishers and developers that GOG.com offers a legitimate channel for new releases under the DRM-free model.
Rambourg explains further that regional pricing is tied to the VAT structure of different countries (sound familiar?), meaning that developers supposedly can lose up to 25% by going DRM-free with GOG, a proposal most developers find untenable. It also means that, in the future, South Africans might be seeing a bump in the pricing on GOG titles. “Still, we know some countries are really being screwed with regional pricing (Western Europe, UK, Australia) and as mentioned above, we’ll do our very best, for every release of a new game, to convince our partners to offer something special for the gamers living there,” he continues.
But what does this mean for their classic catalogue? Bad news: it’s getting the same makeover. Good news is that, according to Rambourg, GOG’s unique position in the marketplace has given them huge leverage to dictate the terms. “GOG.com is the store that made this market visible and viable digitally, and we’re the ones who established the prices we charge. We believe that we have a good record to argue for fair pricing with our partners,” he states, and will therefore be aiming at true price parity across the different currencies.
“We have always argued that classic games only sell well if they have reasonable prices. Unfair regional pricing equals piracy and that’s the last thing anybody wants,” he continues.
GOG have made a strong case for themselves (at least by my standards) by providing exceptional customer service and going against the grain of the industry on DRM policy. If regional pricing is the cost of obtaining DRM-free new releases and GOG’s continued existence, I’m not against it. But what about you? Post your feelings and thoughts in the comments!