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Improving the PlayStation Store

Soulskill posted about 5 years ago | from the learn-from-competitors dept.

PlayStation (Games) 107

This opinion piece takes stock of Sony's PlayStation Store, examining its flaws and the areas Sony needs to improve as their gaming systems come to rely upon it more and more. The problems and suggested solutions involve everything from UI elements to demo availability to pricing inconsistencies. "Some people may say that the Microsoft Points scheme is a little confusing, but it is consistent. If a game is 800MSP in the US, it's 800MSP everywhere else. What a MSP is worth is up to the store, but for the most part they're close. The PlayStation Store on the other hand can be all over the place. While most games in North America keep to the same price point — such as $9.99 or $14.99, converting that over to Europe is another thing entirely. For example, Flower came out earlier this year for $9.99USD. In Australia a $10USD game gets converted to $12.95AUD. Or does it? Bomberman Ultra just came out, and it's $15.95AUD. Heavy Weapon gets released for $12.95AUD, while Capcom’s previous efforts, like Commando 3, convert to $15.95. The same thing also happens for more expensive titles. Both Battlefield 1943 and Fat Princess were released for $14.99 in the US, but in Australia they're priced at $19.95AUD and $23.95 respectively."

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Its not just PlayStation Store (5, Insightful)

sopssa (1498795) | about 5 years ago | (#29754951)

This non-consistent pricing is not only in PlayStation Store - Steam prices also change heavily based on location. It's even worse with Steam, because the prices used to be same everywhere but they changed it in 2009 (nicely hidden as "local currencies come to steam!")

I haven't personally been able to buy anything from Store because for some reason any of my credit cards don't work with it, even though they work everywhere else. Apparently they finally got the cards to stores here now (it took them what, 2-3 years?), but I haven't bothered to go get any yet.

Re:Its not just PlayStation Store (2, Insightful)

spire3661 (1038968) | about 5 years ago | (#29755023)

Ill take inconsistent pricing over arbitrary 'points' any day.

Re:Its not just PlayStation Store (3, Informative)

TuaAmin13 (1359435) | about 5 years ago | (#29755119)

TFS doesn't explain everything.
  • The PSN Store is divided into multiple regions. Each region has control over their own store. iirc there's more stores than 3 (SCEA, SCEE, SCEJ)
  • Publishers in 1 region may not be the same in others, hence pricing disparities. While SCEA might be the publisher in the US, Capcom could be the publisher in Japan. This somewhat explains the selection available between stores.
  • Each PSN Store is free to run their own promotions. I've picked up Calling All Cars for $4.99 before on the US Store, and gotten a free episode of Voltron

So 800 MS Points is $10 in the US. How much does 800 MS Points go for in other countries? Is it still $10 USD, or has it been adjusted? That's the apples to apples comparison right there.

Personally I like the $$$ option of the PSN rather than the point method of Microsoft. I have a credit card, I don't want to buy some sort of currency first to then buy games. I don't want to have to convert all points to prices to see if something is a good value. Nintendo's is a bit easier, with 1000 points being $10, but Microsoft wants you to spend more points without realizing it. 1200 points, Oh wow, that looks like only $12 when actually it's $15.

Personally I like the PSN UI. The current version is a whole lot better than the old one, particularly with regards to redeeming promo codes.

Not to say the PSN can't be improved. I would love to see either a unified login (for all regions) or a way to change your name with your current account. Right now when people want to change account names they create a new account. That decreases the number of names available for new PSN members. All because they got tired of xxxhazz0rszzzz and wanted omgitssephiroth. So I'm sure you've got guys out there with 5-10 accounts, where Sony could charge $5 to change your name and keep all your DLC/Trophies. Microsoft already allows you to change your name, iirc. I would also love to have some of the content available on the Japanese store, without creating a Japanese account and trying to browse that store. Will it happen? Who knows.

Re:Its not just PlayStation Store (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29755219)

80MSP =

USD $10.00
GBP £6.80
EURO €9.30
CAD $12.79
AUD $13.20
JPY Y 1184
CHF 17.12 CHF
NOK 65.60 NOK

According to the first Google search result.

Re:Its not just PlayStation Store (1)

RaceProUK (1137575) | about 5 years ago | (#29755271)

I think you mean 800MSP :P

Re:Its not just PlayStation Store (0, Offtopic)

TuaAmin13 (1359435) | about 5 years ago | (#29755319)

This is /.

I can't be expected to both Google something *and* RTFS. That's for the later comments to point out.

Re:Its not just PlayStation Store (1)

LordKronos (470910) | about 5 years ago | (#29755309)

Uhhhh, you are off by an order of magnitude. That would be 800 MSP, not 80

Re:Its not just PlayStation Store (3, Informative)

dintech (998802) | about 5 years ago | (#29755555)

So using today's exchange rates vs USD, 800 MSP is actually:

11.01 USD (in GBP)
13.89 USD (in EUR)
12.49 USD (in CAD)
12.17 USD (in AUD)
13.20 USD (in JPY)
16.90 USD (in CHF)
11.85 USD (in NOK)

To me it looks like there's an aditional non-english premium...

Re:Its not just PlayStation Store (1)

dintech (998802) | about 5 years ago | (#29755575)

Actually thinking about this, it's more likely to be caused by the weak dollar. Even if Mircosoft Points were fairly pegged in the past, fluctuations in the currency rate would cause this kind of issue if the number of points is the same in each region.

Re:Its not just PlayStation Store (1)

PhunkySchtuff (208108) | about 5 years ago | (#29762979)

A non-english premium? What, you mean they don't speak English in Great Britain, Canada and Australia?

Re:Its not just PlayStation Store (1)

mattack2 (1165421) | about 5 years ago | (#29763989)

They speak proto-English. They add extra 'u's to words, and say things like "bloke", "criminy", and "gday mate".

Signed, typical American.

Re:Its not just PlayStation Store (1)

IrquiM (471313) | about 5 years ago | (#29756195)

In addition you have to consider local VAT laws for the different countries. 15% some place, 25% other places, etc.

Re:Its not just PlayStation Store (1)

Bat Country (829565) | about 5 years ago | (#29759435)

Don't forget that Microsoft and Nintendo both do the "hot dog vs hot dog buns" deal too, where their points are sold in rounded units but their products are sold in increments between them. Buy 500 or 1000 points, pay 1200 or 800 for a game. Either way, you're going to end up with leftover points which is intended to persuade you to buy more crap because you've still got points left over. Then you end up not having enough points left over to buy anything, so you're encouraged to buy MORE points.

Look at the Nintendo store - you've got 1200 points, 800 points and 400 point titles. You buy 1500 points, buy a 1200 point game. Now you have 300 points and the cheapest game is 400 points. So you buy 1000 more points, buy your 400 point game and are left over with 900 points. Buy an 800 point game, you have 100 points left.

Or say you're stuck with that 300 points, you buy 500 points, you now have 800 points. Hooray, you can buy 2 400 point games and actually empty your account. Except you now have bought 3 games when all you really wanted was that one 1200 point game.

The whole thing is a grand old scam run like a carnival game.

Re:Its not just PlayStation Store (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29759803)

Their online store for zune sells points in multiples of 400, and they are the same thing as points for xbl. Try that out in the future.

Also, they have shown plans to sell dlc with exact cash values, like they do if you purchase a full xbox 360 game on xbl.

Re:Its not just PlayStation Store (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29760267)

Hot dogs come 8 to a pack.
Hot dog buns come 8 to a pack.

Where's the beef with that?

Re:Its not just PlayStation Store (1)

Bat Country (829565) | about 5 years ago | (#29764307)

Beef? You must buy better hot dogs than I.

Re:Its not just PlayStation Store (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29758545)

That reminds me of NIN in Australia. Trent Reznor found out they were charging insane prices in Australia because "They were willing to pay that much for it". The end result was him releasing his free music, which was good for all.

Inconsistent pricing is exploitation of the market, trying to eek out whatever it will bear. I would rather a good or service be a flat price, and if its worth it to me, get it. But at least its the same price everyone else is paying for virtual goods, rather than treating it like there is some sort of digital overhead worth $5-10 more in certain locations.

Re:Its not just PlayStation Store (3, Interesting)

nutshell42 (557890) | about 5 years ago | (#29755571)

EU Mass Effect prices two months ago:
  • Amazon: $10
  • US Steam: $20
  • EU Steam: $75

I don't know what they're smoking at EA Europe but it gotta be good stuff. Too expensive in a recession, though, because after more than a year of the old price they recently reduced it to about $20.

Re:Its not just PlayStation Store (1)

mweather (1089505) | about 5 years ago | (#29758333)

This non-consistent pricing is not only in PlayStation Store - Steam prices also change heavily based on location

That's true of pretty much anyone selling anything in multiple countries. Personally I don't see what's so great about Microsoft points. Instead of having a separate price for each region, you have a separate exchange rate for each region. How is that less confusing?

Re:Its not just PlayStation Store (1)

Wannabe Code Monkey (638617) | about 5 years ago | (#29758431)

Its not just PlayStation Store, it's not just Steam, it's not just video games, it's not just the internet... It's everything. From text books, to DVDs, to jeans, to Big Macs: the same item can cost a different amount (after factoring in exchange rates) based on location. This has been true since there have been different currencies, different cultures, and different locations.

Re:Its not just PlayStation Store (1)

MikeBabcock (65886) | about 5 years ago | (#29761705)

Pricing doesn't need to be consistent and never has been. World markets are all different, earning and buying power change from place to place.

The same car in the USA, Canada and the UK will have different sticker prices based on perceived local value for example.

PlayStation? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29754971)

Who cares? Console shite is not news for nerds. Real nerds game on the PC.

Meh! (2, Informative)

TheReal_sabret00the (1604049) | about 5 years ago | (#29754987)

This is how the world works, there's little parity between the likes of the US and the UK let alone Oz. It's stupid to complain that another English version of the game has a different number next to the dollar sign signifying a different currency which in the real world runs circles around your own currency.

Of course there is parity between the US & UK (3, Funny)

RotateLeftByte (797477) | about 5 years ago | (#29755031)


    $1.00USD == £1.00GBP

These US Megacorps wouldn't have it anyother way...

Re:Of course there is parity between the US & (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29755051)

Sony is a US company now?

Re:Of course there is parity between the US & (1)

RotateLeftByte (797477) | about 5 years ago | (#29755175)

It is partially a US Company as its share are listed on the NYSE []

IMHO, that pretty well counts.

Also, the do have some significant LOCAL(to the US) subsidiaries espeically in the LA area.

Re:Of course there is parity between the US & (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29757305)

The Sony listing on the NYSE is an ADR [] , not an actual stock. Sony shares trade on the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

So no, that doesn't count.

Re:Of course there is parity between the US & (1)

SmlFreshwaterBuffalo (608664) | about 5 years ago | (#29761151)

As the AC already pointed out, Sony isn't a US corporation. Also, Canon does the same thing. In the US, the 5D Mark II lists for $2699USD, and in the UK it lists for £2690GBP.

If we're going to be jumping to random conclusions based on little to no data (after all, this is /.), these two data points should be enough to conclude that Japanese corporations have trouble doing currency conversions. Actually, to be more precise, customers of Japanese corporations have trouble doing currency conversions, otherwise they would know they are being ripped off.

But in reality, these are just two data points and the more likely scenario is that these two companies (among others, I'm sure) have just found another way to screw over some of their customers.

Cool! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29755027)

Cool! Australia apparently lies in Europe now!

Re:Cool! (2, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 5 years ago | (#29755209)

Well obviously. It's right between Germany and Hungary, precisely where it has always been.

Re:Cool! (2, Funny)

Zoolander (590897) | about 5 years ago | (#29755287)

Right next to Sweden.

Re:Cool! (1)

mikkelm (1000451) | about 5 years ago | (#29755675)


Re:Cool! (1)

Zoolander (590897) | about 5 years ago | (#29756263)

Who you wooshin, you insensitive clod?!!?!

Background downloading (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | about 5 years ago | (#29755043)

Is the author stupid? He really expects the PSP to match performance features of the PS3? THe reason the PS3 can background download is because it has multiple work units to process the data, including one dedicated solely to the OS. IM not THAT familiar with the PSP CPU architecture, even though i own one, but im pretty sure its a single core. Neither the Xbox 360 or PS3 supported background downloading at launch.

Re:Background downloading (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29755103)

1 CPU != no background downloading.

Its a function of the OS.

Re:Background downloading (3, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 5 years ago | (#29755239)

Data transfer(especially at 802.11b speeds) isn't exactly computationally overwhelming. Single processor systems have been doing transfers in the background for ages.

Perhaps, with the older PSPs, there isn't any room for multitasking, if certain games expect to have full use of hardware resources; but the fact that they didn't bump the PSP-go's specs just enough to offer background downloading is pure laziness.

Re:Background downloading (2, Informative)

TheKidWho (705796) | about 5 years ago | (#29755291)

PSP is actually a dual processor design.

It has two MIPS R4000 with one of the units missing an FPU.

Re:Background downloading (1)

SuiteSisterMary (123932) | about 5 years ago | (#29755977)

Oh snap, you can't multithread on a single-core processor! Quick, somebody tell Microsoft, Linux, UNIX, and all those other OSes with multiprocessing that they've been doing something impossible for the last forty years!

Re:Background downloading (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | about 5 years ago | (#29760587)

Ok; but it could AT THE VERY LEAST resume interrupted downloads and let you pause them.

I mean, you can defend the "no background downloading" thing, but what's the defense for not being able to resume interrupted downloads? Let's go back in time to what the Internet was like in 1995, folks!

Also, I had desktop computers a lot less powerful than PSPs, that were capable of background downloading while playing single-player games. What makes you think you need a dedicated CPU core to *download a file*, of all things?

I love the Playstation Store (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29755077)

I think it's great that I can download free demos to game and try them so I know which ones to pick up at the $20 bin at a used video game store (and which is the rare gem that is worth more -- Valkyria anyone?).

Won't ever *buy* anything from the PS Store though, don't want to sponsor anything that is such a huge threat to the first sale doctrine...

Re:I love the Playstation Store (1)

metamatic (202216) | about 5 years ago | (#29759951)

Won't ever *buy* anything from the PS Store though, don't want to sponsor anything that is such a huge threat to the first sale doctrine...

I did "buy" a few things from the PlayStation store, because they were games priced at $4.99 in a special offer. That's a reasonable price for an indefinite rental.

$30+ on a game I can't resell when I'm done with it? Oh, hell no.

Terribly worded paragraph (1)

LordKronos (470910) | about 5 years ago | (#29755095)

That paragraph quoted from the article is terribly worded and somewhat confusing. It continually lists things without telling the counterpart value or what the conversion is

1) us the US price, the US to AU conversion, but doesn't tell us the actual AU price
2) What is the US release price for Bomberman Ultra, Heavy Weapon, and Commando 3? I'm assuming it $9.99, but I can't say for sure
3) Battlefield 1942 and Fat Princess...great, we have their US and AU prices, but they didn't mention what the conversion is. Yes, we can calculate it from the previous 10->12.95 figure, but the reader shouldn't have to do that. From reading, I was under the impression that these 2 games were both overpriced, but then I did that conversion and I see a $15US game should be about $19.41AU, meaning that Battlefield 1943 was actually priced normally for the conversion (btw...they should have sold Battlefield 1943 for $19.43AU)

If a game is 800MSP in the US, it's 800MSP everyw (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29755117)

> If a game is 800MSP in the US, it's 800MSP everywhere else.

and your point being? MSP have very different local prices too. Same in iTMS, Steam etc...

Re: If a game is 800MSP in the US, it's 800MSP eve (2, Insightful)

ShadowRangerRIT (1301549) | about 5 years ago | (#29755419)

But you aren't paying a different price for two games priced identically in the States. So a game that costs $X in the States will cost kX in another country (where k is the constantmultiplier MS applies to the cost of points). On the PS3, the cost in another country isn't predictable based on the price in the U.S. Like they said, two games that cost $10 in the states can cost two wildly different prices elsewhere.

MSP? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29755137)

How about MSRP? Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price? Please quit making up abbreviations. We have enough already and can use the ones we already have. Thank you.

Re:MSP? (1)

RaceProUK (1137575) | about 5 years ago | (#29755267)

MSP = Microsoft Points

10 bucks says (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29755139)

10 bucks says the article's author (Ryan Langley) is some 19-year-old college kid who is just being exposed to different currencies and exchange rates for the very first time...and he's thoroughly confused by it. He has this brilliant idea where he says "Hey, wouldn't it be great if everything were the same price all over the world?" and writes an article about it. Then, of course, colonslash posts it to the front page.

I don't get it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29755245)

While most games in North America keep to the same price point — such as $9.99 or $14.99, converting that over to Europe is another thing entirely. For example, Flower came out earlier this year for $9.99USD. In Australia a $10USD game gets converted to $12.95AUD. Or does it? Bomberman Ultra just came out, and it's $15.95AUD. Heavy Weapon gets released for $12.95AUD, while Capcom’s previous efforts, like Commando 3, convert to $15.95. The same thing also happens for more expensive titles. Both Battlefield 1943 and Fat Princess were released for $14.99 in the US, but in Australia they're priced at $19.95AUD and $23.95 respectively."

Can someone clear this up for me?

What's new? (1)

Maskedman (221001) | about 5 years ago | (#29755261)

I don't understand what all the fuzz is about, it has been this way for ages.

Take normal price for a ps3 game in USA, using Uncharted 2 as an example, would be $59.99 at, if you go to the danish store at the same game is 549 danish kroners, converted to USD that would be around $110.

But like I said, it's been this way for ages.

Re:What's new? (1)

Rabbitbunny (1202531) | about 5 years ago | (#29755341)


Re:What's new? (1)

broeman (638571) | about 5 years ago | (#29755579)

That is probably why I never bought a PS3 retail game (and few blu-rays) in Denmark, especially since we have easy access to UK (and the canal islands) prices. I even import from Hong Kong from time to time, and if they get caught by the post office, the company accepts that it will be returned and they send another one.

On topic: In the US, PSN has started to accept competition on its own Store (sounds weird, but apparently Sony likes competition) from Amazon, where you essentially buy a redeem-key. I would hope it would spread to the rest of the world, as a freer market for digital downloads sounds promising (for getting more fair pricing), but it would probably mean a different PSN setup as we are used to (like accessing several stores, and Sony might be the market handler).

Re:What's new? (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | about 5 years ago | (#29761269)

On topic: In the US, PSN has started to accept competition on its own Store (sounds weird, but apparently Sony likes competition) from Amazon, where you essentially buy a redeem-key.

How is that different from the product keys Amazon has been selling for Xbox Live Arcade games for ages? Like this one for example: []

Sounds to me it's just one more area where Sony is following instead of leading.

They missed my biggest gripe... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29755295)

...which is when you download a game from PSN that has been out for a while, you download it, install it, run it and then get prompted to update it! Very frustrating with games like Noby Noby Boy where you download a 200MB game and then when you attempt to play it for the first time you're prompted to do a 350MB update for it. Why not just download the fully updated version to begin with?

No kangaroos in Europe... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29755303)

Is the author aware that Australia is not in Europe ? It's Austria...
And guess what, we, in (real ;) ) Europe, are soooo original that we called our money, not the something dollar, but the Euro !

Not really Sony's problem. (1)

Aladrin (926209) | about 5 years ago | (#29755329)

Almost all of the problems listed are either not problems, or are not Sony's problem. It is up to the game publisher to advertise, set prices, and make sure the customer is informed. I actually applaud Sony for not forcing them to do things like provide screenshots. If they don't want to provide them, they shouldn't have to.

And guess what? I'm free not to buy, either.

The only thing Sony does have control over is the format of the PSN Stores in each area... They are -way- different from each other (Japanese, too) and the US one is the only one that I think is laid out even close to right. The JP one doesn't even have a 'new games' section, but has 'promoted games' instead... Usually that includes the new ones, but not always... And almost never includes things like Themes. You have to actually explore the entire PSN each time you want to see what they have now.

Re:Not really Sony's problem. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29757063)

That's not true. As game developers we can recommend prices to Sony. But they set the final prices to what they want. If you're at a big gaming company you can usually get what you want for pricing. About the only thing you can set is the wholesale price which is basically what Sony gives you.

As for advertising. Usually we have to get on our knees and beg Sony to put up anything on the what's new, and advertising sections of the store. And they normally reserve those for 1st party games, 3rd party games usually don't have any chance, unless its obvious that it'll sell millions. Of course there are the magic words to get Sony to start considering it, those being 'Xbox360 exclusive'.

Re:Not really Sony's problem. (1)

MikeBabcock (65886) | about 5 years ago | (#29761767)

Of course most of us browse the "what's new" every week, so we're going to see your game anyway. That advertising block is almost never clicked by yours truly.

I like it but (1)

Yay Another Nickname (901071) | about 5 years ago | (#29755391)

Why can't I play my old PS1 games on my PSP without having to hack it! Have to agree that the PlayStation Store does need UI improvements but over all I like the whole idea - I have downloaded all the demos and even *gasp* brought a game - heaps better than having a UMD floating around.

Horrible interface (2, Insightful)

biscuitlover (1306893) | about 5 years ago | (#29755605)

I've got to say the interface leaves a lot to be desired... it's quite flashy but not at all intuitive. I'd like something more table-based, where you can see the price, release date, genre etc. of lots of different games all at once. Instead, you often have to calculate where the content you want lives and hunt it down using the right combination of categories and button presses. Yeah, I know there is a search feature, but the browsing experience isn't great and is only going to get worse as more games are added.

If you think this is bad though, try Vidzone - the PS3 music video player you can download for free. It is slow, clunky and so horrible to use that I uninstalled it minutes after first using it. Worst interface I've ever seen, possibly apart from the Sonicstage NetMD software from 10 years ago or so (also by Sony). I think the company desperately needs to hire some usability experts...

Re:Horrible interface (1)

Absolut187 (816431) | about 5 years ago | (#29760163)

I am VERY disappointed with my PS3 as a media center.
It works well for blu-rays and games, but thats it.
Everything is either totally non-functional, or 'clunky' at best.

PSN sucks.
Browser sucks - (wont run Netflix or youtube properly).

If they could get Netflix working I would be a lot happier.
I would def be willing to pay $10/year like (X-box live) if it meant I could do netflix and have a decent browser.

You're doing it wrong... (1)

Nursie (632944) | about 5 years ago | (#29761597)

... or something anyway. Browser on mine does youtube fine.

Also BBC iPlayer works nicely (I'm in the UK), and if you have a linux box you can install mediatomb and have the PS3 pick it up as a media server. It plays pretty much anything. It's great :)

YMMV of course. And from your post it seems it has.

Re:Horrible interface (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | about 5 years ago | (#29760177)

After being subjected to the abomination known as the Sony Connect store, I realized Sony + software = crap.

They simply don't have it in their culture to create usable software.

Even their embedded software is godawful-- my parents' Sony camcorder has two icons to connect to USB. Both icons are identical, with the only difference being that one of them works (i.e. the device shows up as expected on the computer) and one doesn't work (i.e. nothing happens.) Seriously, WTF?!

Easy to buy the wrong thing, too (1)

IdahoEv (195056) | about 5 years ago | (#29762899)

Several times I've come close to buying PSP games, because they're not so clearly marked - and once I actually screwed up and did it. I now own $14.99 worth of software I don't even own the hardware to play.

Would be really nice if I could have a "Just turn off all the PSP content, ok?" setting.

It's certainly not restricted to video games (1)

Interoperable (1651953) | about 5 years ago | (#29755607)

Living in Canada, price differences are frequently apparent. Books for example list a Canadian price and a US price, which was fine when the Canadian dollar traded at 70 cents US. When the Canadian dollar shot up to parity, however, we were inexplicably still paying $15 for a $10 book. I'm not sure what the current book situation is though, it may have stabilized. Cars are another example, it's often cheaper to fly to the US to buy a car and then pay import taxes to drive it to Canada than it is to buy it here.

Online merchandise makes the inequalities more apparent because of the ease of comparing prices and the obvious lack of transport costs that could explain a difference but it's nothing new.

Re:It's certainly not restricted to video games (1)

radish (98371) | about 5 years ago | (#29756243)

The article isn't complaining about price disparity between regions - it's pointing out that different items from the store are more/less expensive by different amounts, so it's not just a straight currency adjustment, there's per-title regional pricing variance going on as well. That's something unique to Sony (vs MS/Nintendo) AFAIK.

the contract of purchase... (1)

rapiddescent (572442) | about 5 years ago | (#29755613)

the other problem with PS Store is that it is difficult to figure out what you are actually buying. Are you buying a game to play? a non-transferable licence to play the game? a licence restricted to a number of PS units? or perhaps a licence for 1 game per unit?

I had the misfortune of having a bluray drive fail and being out of warranty, I simply bought a new ps3 slim. Everything from the backup restored except 60 or so Singstar songs (GBP 50 /USD 80 ish) because, as I found out too late, the DRM in the singstar songs locks the songs for one PS3 unit and, even worse, you can't buy the songs again and re-download them because it thinks you already have them!

I try to avoid DRM for this very reason - but after a few pints one night, I never thought to check that Singstar would have such stupid DRM on it.

in the us tax is not part of the price in the uk a (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | about 5 years ago | (#29755693)

in the us tax is not part of the price in the uk and others places it is.

A simple comparison (1)

ZorbaTHut (126196) | about 5 years ago | (#29755989)

Let's imagine I want to buy a game on my XBox.

The game is 1200 Microsoft Points. I can't buy 1200 Microsoft Points, though. I can buy 2000. But then I have 800 Microsoft Points left over. I don't want that, so I navigate through the menu structure to buy 1000 Microsoft Points (wait for confirmation), then again to buy another 250 Microsoft Points (wait for confirmation). Now I can buy the game (wait for confirmation) and start downloading. Oh, look at this, here is another game I want, I didn't see this before. It is 400 Microsoft Points. I have 50. I go to buy another 500 Microsoft Points (wait for confirmation) and then buy the game (wait for confirmation). Now I've got 150 Microsoft Points, and next time I buy a game I get to go through the dance again, trying to figure out the set of "Microsoft Point" purchases that minimizes my missing money. Thanks Microsoft. Always a pleasure.

Let's imagine I want to buy a game on my PS3.

I find the game. It's $14.99. I choose "buy" (wait for confirmation). I start downloading. Oh, look at this, here is another game I want, I didn't see this before. It's $4.99. I choose "buy". Sony informs me that the minimum credit card charge is $10.00, so I'll have $5.01 left over, but that will automatically be stored and used on the next game. Okay, accept (wait for confirmation). Now I have $5.01 stored on the Sony servers, and my next game - or set of games, since I can buy a bunch of games together - will just be cheaper.

Take a wild guess as to which of these I prefer.

(I'm not going to go into the Wii method because . . . well, there's a reason I've only bought one game ever on the Wii.)

Re:A simple comparison (1)

radish (98371) | about 5 years ago | (#29756183)

Or you could have bought 2000 points in the first place and still have points "automatically stored and used on the next game". You can't buy a $4.99 game for $4.99 from Sony (you end up with cash stored in your account) and you can't buy a 400 point game from MS for 400 points (you end up with points stored in your account). I completely fail to see any difference whatsoever.

You could even say that Sony is worse because their minimum charge is $10 whilst MS will let you buy 250 points which is less than that, but to be honest I don't care. What's the big deal about running a few dollars balance? I have some odd amount of cash sitting at Sony and some odd number of points at MS.

Re:A simple comparison (1)

ZorbaTHut (126196) | about 5 years ago | (#29756299)

Sure, so I buy 2000 points in the first place. Now I have 800 points left over. The next game I want to buy is 1200 points. Now what?

My point is that MS makes the entire process more irritating, more timeconsuming, and more mentally frustrating than the Sony process. Whenever I buy something from MS I have to buy at least two things, possibly more, each one taking five to ten seconds to talk to the servers, and with me having to do some mental math and check my balance to figure out what exactly it is that I have to buy in order to buy the thing I actually want.

With Sony, I push the "give me a game" button, and they give me a game.

Re:A simple comparison (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29756461)

Points are a marketing way of removing the idea of money out of the issue and a easy way to pad the bottom line. Points in most peoples minds does not equal money. You are a good example of that.

The big deal with 'running' a balance is with points they get all the money up front and put it into investments. Where as you are out that 3-10 dollars that you could use for something else until that game you want shows up. I am not in the habit of loaning multi BILLION dollar companies money. Which is exactly what you are doing when you run a balance. They have investment bankers for that. If you think they can spend your money better than you why dont you have a balance of 200k in points? Because it is just as ridiculous but only in extreme.

The one complaint I have about the Sony store is its damn font. Who the hell picked 6-8pt?! Microscopic and blurry on a SD tv.

You also sound like a 'who cares its just a dollar' person. Well spend 1 dollar a day and you end up with 365 dollars in 1 year. What could you get for 365 bucks? How many 'its just a dollars' do you do PER day? It adds up and FAST. If you wondered where all your money is going I can tell you...

Re:A simple comparison (1)

LazyBoot (756150) | about 5 years ago | (#29757043)

Well, personally I think I prefer the Sony method (though I have no experience with the MS one). Because as long as you are over the minimum charge limit, you can add any value you want.

Disable PSP only stuff (1)

Hohlraum (135212) | about 5 years ago | (#29756179)

My only gripe doesn't have to do with the currencies but the fact that all the psp stuff is mixed in with the ps3. I get that sony wants me to buy a psp but bugging me all the time with all the damn psp stuff is a turn off.

what sony REALLY needs to do is emulate the psp on the ps3 so you can play your games on the ps3 or the psp. I'd actually buy one then and there are several psp games i'd buy just to play on the ps3. (loco roco, papaton, mgs, gow, assassin's creed, etc)

Re:Disable PSP only stuff (1)

scuzzlebutt (517123) | about 5 years ago | (#29756873)

That *is* sort of annoying. Especially since the PlayStation Store is also accessible on the PSP (where it only displays PSP-compatible content.) It should at least be configurable. I think the rationale behind not emulating the PSP on the PS3 is that it would cannibalize PSP sales. Remember how PS3 used to be backward compatible with PS2, but is no more? If it were still so, Sony would sell fewer PS2's...

Priced to the market (1)

LoudMusic (199347) | about 5 years ago | (#29756413)

It's the same way with physical goods too. They're pricing to what they think the regional markets will bare. And I'm sure they've done a fair amount of market research to determine those variations.

I want to pay for games, not points. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29756563)

I can't stand MSpoints, or even the more consistent wiipoints. The scheme is that you can only buy them in pre-set increments of $500, 1000, 2000, etc. On MSlive those don't even equate to round numbers in us dollars. Then you buy games in completely different increments, 200, 800, 1200, etc and you're always left with a virtually unspendable few hundred points. This is even worse on the PC version of MSlive, where there aren't even money-sink arcade games and theme-packs to burn extra points on.

Since you pay upfront for these points, any points you can't direct toward a deserving game designer are basically just investment money for microsoft or nintendo. I'll pay random prices on PS3 any day - sure Sony will get its cut, but I get to decide when and via which indie publisher.

Of course it doesn't hurt that I live in the US and can completely ignore the fluxuations with currency. Just remember, those numbers reflect the relative economies of the countries and the publishers of the products, not the value of the merchandise relative to other expenses in a given place. The publisher is going to have to convert their income into their home currency at some point, and $12 dollars US is simply not the same for them as $12 dollars Australian, Canadian, etc.

I like it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29756655)

I like the PSN store, it's not bad. Some kid at Toy's R Us was telling me the PSN sucked cause you can't download classic games. I then explained to him how to install linux and run almost any system worth playing. ALSO, the PSONE line is very affordable! 5 bucks for Jumping Flash 2 ? That's awesome!

Features I would like to see:
* Community games section (accompanied with a good/easy to use dev kit for hobbyist [ala XNA])
* A PS2 emulator we can buy

Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29756695)

I mean, come on. In different places, games cost different prices, and this effects me... how? Other than dialing 911 for the WAHmbulance because someone is paying more/less than me, I don't see the point of this article.

It seems like a lot of negative stories about the PS3 have came out since the price drop/new model came out. FUD, perhaps?

Some of it is deliberate, some of it is "too hard" (1)

EEDAm (808004) | about 5 years ago | (#29756803)

Generally people think there should be some sort of parity of pricing across countries for online distribution systems but this is wrong in the real world for a few reasons. Fundamentally you could break it down to intentional and mechanical.

On the intentional side, this is pretty obvious. Companies exploit the strength of local economies by pricing goods per market. They also have to deal with weak markets. Usually you get some guff about "additional operating costs" but while that's partially true it's mostly intentional price setting. We all know that Good X is cheaper in country Y than your home country Z story. I'm surprised people think companies wouldn't do it to an online distribution system too and expect parity. The nice thing for us as consumers is we can spot it. Look at the effective USD cost in Swiss Francs in that table there - ouch.

Secondly, mechanical. Managing currency exposure is fairly complicated for most businesses and many of them do a not very good job at it. Certainly Steam is woeful at it. FX markets move very very very fast and the nature of the forward contracts you have to purchase to hedge foreign currency exposures also complicates things *a lot* for non expert businesses. If I have most of my earnings in dollars and I'm selling products in Euro, I don't simply convert Euros back to dollars each business day and not mind what is happening to the EUR / USD exchange rate. If the exchange rate keeps on collapsing against me, I would be getting less and less dollars every day. You don't want your non-dollar goods giving you 20% less than you expected at the beginning of the year because of a 20% decline in the exchange rate.

What I should do is hedge my expected earnings in EUR with, say, a three month FX forward contract so that for every dollar I "lose" when the EUR / USD exchange rate falls against my dollar interests, I make a dollar in profit when the FX forward contract expires three months from now. So even if the exchange rate goes against me by 10%, while the USD40 I thought I would make a month from now on the euro sale of a single copy of my game actually becomes USD36 due to adverse currency movements, then I would get back the 4 dollars from the profit on the foreign exchange rate forward. Airlines do the equivalent hedging fuel exposures.

Banks do this all the time and decent currency management would solve a lot of these problems. Games businesses just don't get it right mechanically with decent hedging and frequently it's plain old intentional price differentials too.

Article misses the boat (2, Insightful)

tgibbs (83782) | about 5 years ago | (#29757131)

The Playstation store is the one area where the PS3 falls far short of the XBox 360, but the article misses the major issues. When I look for things in the PS3 store, it is just a jumble, and there is no really useful sorting. I often end up downloading a game for XBox 360 that I might have downloaded for PS3 if the store were not so disorganized. For example, on the XBox360, all games available online have demos, and the full game can be purchased from the demo. On the PS3 demos are separate things, and there is no differentiation between demos for disk games and demos for online available games. What the PS3 store really needs is:

A way to sort games into categories.
-Demos of PS3 games available on disks (subsorted by name, release date, genre, or popularity)
-Demos of *all* PS3 games available online with option to buy full game (subsorted by name, release date, genre, or popularity)
-PSP games (subsorted by name, release date, genre, or popularity)

Screenshots, anyone? (Re:Article misses the boat) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29759595)

Here's another 'wacky' idea... how about something as simple as screenshots of the games?!
Or a ratings/review section like Apple's App Store uses?
When I use Playstation Store, I feel like it's 1992, and I've dialed into a BBS.

Re:Article misses the boat (1)

demonbug (309515) | about 5 years ago | (#29760487)

No kidding. The Playstation store is all but unusable - impossible to find anything. I've only ever downloaded a few demos, but it seems that every time I do I somehow end up with two copies of it. This doesn't exactly instill confidence in the store, making it very unlikely I will ever actually buy something through it.

It also seems to be extremely slow to load, very clunky interface, and basically looks like it was designed by someone who has never, ever visited or seen an online retailer. Pretty bad all around.

Installing (1)

harl (84412) | about 5 years ago | (#29761009)

Add having to install demos to the list. I've had a 360 for years and recently picked up a PS3. I downloaded a demo and then had to install it!? The install took about 10 minutes for a 1.2 GB demo.

Really Sony?

With the 360 you just download and play. There is no addition anything to be done.

Forcing your customer to walk away from the machine, as it's completely unusable during install, is a bad idea. They may find something better to do with their time.

Re:Article misses the boat (1)

MikeBabcock (65886) | about 5 years ago | (#29761883)

While it would be nice of Sony to 'force' demos to be available, I do prefer that they treat their publishers with a little respect and the store has a big huge "Demo" category where you can look at game demos all you like. They're even sorted alphabetically.

Re:Article misses the boat (1)

tgibbs (83782) | about 5 years ago | (#29763895)

So if I happen to see a PS3 game that I think I might want to download, I have to go to a different section and search through an long list to find out if there is a demo (I don't buy games without demos; I figure that the lack of a demo means that the publisher thinks that I wouldn't want the game if I knew what it was actually like--and that they are most likely correct in their estimation). Most of them are for disk games, rather than downloadable games. Then if I do like the demo, I have to go back to the store and search again through a different list to download the game.

Do you see why I'd rather shop for XBox 360 games? There is one entry for the game and the demo. I download the demo and try it. If I like it, the game itself will link me directly to the purchase screen.

This article sucks (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29757133)

Worst article ever. If you want to read a good article, I'll post one about taking a massive shit last night. Holy crap!

Is Price Consistency An Issue? (1)

EXTomar (78739) | about 5 years ago | (#29757245)

I mean no one goes to the grocery store and goes "This is horrible problem...the oatmeal is way to cheap compared to Frosted Flakes. These prices are all over the place!"

I'm all for vendors being free to price their product in online venues at what ever level they want. This also means they can price they are free to price themselves into oblivion but the wonderful things about online stores it is much easier to fix than if they made the wrong price level for on the shelf product. This "problem" really doesn't seem like a problem at all.

Re:Is Price Consistency An Issue? (1)

ukyoCE (106879) | about 5 years ago | (#29757501)

Yeah, not a very compelling summary. The price is consistent for a person in the US with a playstation. Who cares what someone in Japan is paying in Yen for the same game?

Re:Is Price Consistency An Issue? (1)

Nakarti (572310) | about 5 years ago | (#29759929)

That's a terrible analogy!
Of course the price of one game can be different from another!
  A much better analogy is: Game prices(shh) at Walmart.(I work near one(A), my mom lives next to another(B), and my wife works near a third(C).)
I can go to A, mention that Final Fantasy IV is $29, $5 less online(, if I could get that price now, I'd buy it. They match
I can go to B, mention that Final Fantasy IV is $29 online, and they remind me it's the same price there!
I can go to C, mention that Final Fantasy IV is $29, or $10 less online, and they say "Sorry, we don't match at this store." I say "Walmart doesn't match Walmart's prices, but they will match somebody elses?" he says, "Umm, yeah." I say, "Well I'll buy it here, start playing it, order it online for less, and return it here for the higher price, right? Package, UPC, and other stuff you guys check match, so should be no problem," he says "But the serial number has to match," I point out, "No serial number on the package, it doesn't matter," he says, "I guess so."

So I did, only sad part was the online one had different artwork, and it shoplifter-beeped on the way into the store.

Re:Is Price Consistency An Issue? (1)

kramerd (1227006) | about 5 years ago | (#29762587)

Not even close to a proper analogy.

Its more like going to whole foods vs publix vs kroger vs (local businessman) and buying a 2 liter of coke in the new family style bottle.

At whole foods, its $9.
At publix, its $3.
At kroger, its $5, but you have to have a kroger credit card to buy it, but if you have bought a 2 liter of coke before, since its in new packaging, you can get a second copy for a friend who also has an account but hasn't bought it before.
The local businessman charges 2.50, but he is sold out and wont be getting more in for a while due to high return rates.

What do you expect (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29757557)

These are the sort of things that happen when you choose to live outside the U.S.

Man whines about currency (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 5 years ago | (#29758565)

differences, News at 11.

AC complains about starting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29758971)

posts in the title

mod d0wn (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29758969)

Downward spiral. people already; I'8 aal servers. Coming

Resale (1)

CopaceticOpus (965603) | about 5 years ago | (#29760297)

I could care less what the price of a game is on the other side of the world. Why would I even take the time to compare? If the price in my country is fair to me, I will buy it.

The biggest problem is that the games cannot be resold, and yet they are priced as if they could be resold. A $10-15 downloadable game is usually a cute diversion, lacking in substance and soon forgotten. And yet, that same $10-15 could be the net cost of buying a full retail game, playing it, and then selling it.

Some of the downloadable games are nothing more than glorified versions of the Flash games I can play online for free. How about a price of $2 - $5?

I have the solution! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29760303)

Sony should shut down the store and... wait for it...

DISCONTINUE the overpriced train wreck that is the PS3.

Inconsistent, sure but... (1)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | about 5 years ago | (#29760485)

I don't care how much games cost in Japan or Australia or in Latvia. I care how much games cost HERE. MS Points are just vendor lock in. If a game comes out on PSN, I can buy the whole game with out buying "points" leaving me with extra leaving me to buy more points to buy another product on PSN thus leaving me to buy more points and keeping this unholy cycle going. This is, of course, for amounts greater than five bucks, but, there isn't much on the PSN store aside from DLC unlockables that cost that little.

if Sony wants to improve PSN, put out more crap on PSN. PSN is easier to search than the XBLA Marketplace and a whole lot more friendly when it comes to using *real* currency.

Global Supply and Demand? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29762219)

Consistent prices only makes sense if supply and demand is the same everywhere. I'm pretty sure it isn't. Particularly since marketing in different locales will vary widely based on cultural norms. Additionally standards of living will vary widely within the target demographic from one place to another that isn't reflected in the aggregate exchange rates for currency.

Re:Global Supply and Demand? (1)

Khashishi (775369) | about 5 years ago | (#29762461)

Supply is essentially infinite everywhere. The only thing that matters is demand vs price.

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