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It's a good job you don't have to understand something to be able to exploit it - Her Most Regal Majesty, the Queen of Snark
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sesquipedality
sesquipedality
It's a good job you don't have to understand something to be able to exploit it
Those of you who are gamers will probably be aware that Bioware have released a game called Dragon Age, which is a hack and slash fest very much in the tradition of Baldur's Gate (which will mean a great deal to some, and nothing to others). I wasn't going to pick it up, but the reviews were so positive, I couldn't not. It is about as fantastic as the reviews make out, although if you're not a fan of tactical RPGs, it should definitely be avoided.

All the non-gamers have probably now TL;DRed, which is a shame, as I'm actually posting to talk about modern economics, and why it's borked. Now this is an example from a computer game, but to be honest I've done similar things with all sorts of stuff from PC speakers to espresso machines, and I don't get it.

Cost of Dragon Age online via Steam: £30
Cost of Dragon Age special online edition, with a bit of extra content including a moderately useful shared stash: £40

Cost of DVD Dragon age from a UK seller on ebay dispatched to arrive on release day: £22
Cost of extra content via online purchase: £4.70ish

So, I have paid 27 quid for something I could have bought for 40 on Steam through a delivery system that's supposedly cheaper than physical media. Pedants among you will be aware that I'm down a couple of extra magic items by doing it this way, but essential I've got the special edition for less than the price of the standard edition, and got to play just as soon as everyone else.

It seems sad to me that modern economics penalises people who don't do basic investigation. I'd also be really gutted if I'd bought the special edition, then found out the content is available for less than the difference in price between editions. But not only is it harsh, it's also incomprehensible to me. How do the economics of this work, exactly?

(I don't understand why I didn't get the ring you're supposed to get for pre-ordering, but them's the breaks - to be fair I only pre-ordered two days before release, but it's still technically a pre-order, right.)

(BTW, Dragon Age players - be sure to download the character creator, roll yourself a quick character then upload it. This will net you a moderately nifty attribute increasing ring that's well worth having.)
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Comments
tylorva From: tylorva Date: November 7th, 2009 09:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
I got mine off Steam for £30, well aware that I could get it cheaper from Amazon etc. However, I'm (sadly!) the very epitimy of a 21st Century shopper really - when I want something, I want it NOW!

So at 11pm last night, when I decided to take a break from writing stuff for Consequences, I read some reviews and decided I wanted to play the game NOW! I didn't want to wait for the two or three days it would take to arrive from Amazon, so I paid the extra for the convenience of getting it straight away at an ungodly hour.

Was worth it to me!

I'm not too worried about the physical bits of a game purchase (ie the box and CD etc). Al they do is clutter up the shelves. The other reason I like using Steam is because all my purchases are saved on their server and accessible from any PC anywhere if I log into my account.
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sesquipedality From: sesquipedality Date: November 8th, 2009 01:16 am (UTC) (Link)
27, and yes, it did.
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sesquipedality From: sesquipedality Date: November 8th, 2009 07:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
Adobe are in general pretty evil. It's only because they aren't anything like as big a market as MS that the EU hasn't chewed them up and spit them out yet.
crocodilewings From: crocodilewings Date: November 7th, 2009 09:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
It seems sad to me that modern economics penalises people who don't do basic investigation. I'd also be really gutted if I'd bought the special edition, then found out the content is available for less than the difference in price between editions. But not only is it harsh, it's also incomprehensible to me. How do the economics of this work, exactly?

It's called price discrimination. It's basically a method of charging more money for the same product to people who are less sensitive to the price. It's also not that modern.
undyingking From: undyingking Date: November 8th, 2009 05:27 am (UTC) (Link)
Mm, this. The more you can segment your market into groups who are prepared to pay different prices for your product -- whethe that be through ignorance, laziness, barriers, or whatever -- the more profit you can extract from the market as a whole. You get taught in intro Economics courses that this is a particular characteristic of monopoly, but in practice it can occur in any market where there's less than perfect information and opportunity (ie, any market).
invisible_al From: invisible_al Date: November 7th, 2009 10:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's part of the deal the Steam have with the big publishers, they're not allowed to charge less than retail shops. You can see this with their own games which they discount regularly and with the deals they run every so often - Mass Effect for £6.49, Stalker for £6.

I picked up the digital special edition for £39.99, simply because it was easy impluse buy for me. Had just got paid, wanted a game that would keep me occupied for 60 hours ish. Seems like a good deal.
zandev From: zandev Date: November 8th, 2009 06:27 am (UTC) (Link)
I've been integrated into the Amazon borg, so got mine for 25 quid from Amazon, then paid the 4.70 or whatever for the extra content.

The whole launch of Dragon Age has been rather controversial. Particularly the different editions, and people having trouble getting the downloaded software.

For major games I still prefer getting physical copies of games. Dragon Age for one has a surprisingly good manual. You can also lend physical games to other people (though see my journal for a mini rant about the one-time dlc for Dragon Age).
zandev From: zandev Date: November 8th, 2009 06:28 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, and for reference, Amazon emailed me the codes for the pre-order items, so I guess it's down to the seller.
davywavy From: davywavy Date: November 8th, 2009 09:28 am (UTC) (Link)
Having now used Steam, it's clear they specifically designed the system to fuck me off as badly as possible
sesquipedality From: sesquipedality Date: November 8th, 2009 07:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
Really? I've always found Steam to be by far the least offensive digital distribution platform on the planet.
davywavy From: davywavy Date: November 9th, 2009 09:46 am (UTC) (Link)
Assuming you aren't on dialup, I agree that may be true.
sesquipedality From: sesquipedality Date: November 9th, 2009 02:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh dear. Yes, I fear Steam is not for you.
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