Australian game retailers speak out on grey imports

EB Games and JB Hi-Fi confirm policies to import overseas video-game stock for the local market; Interactive Games and Entertainment Association (iGEA) says the move will directly impact local publishers.

The Australian government is set to investigate the high game prices issue.
(Credit: GameSpot AU)

Australian retailers EB Games and JB Hi-Fi have both confirmed that they are importing video-game stock directly from overseas.

According to JB Hi-Fi, its decision to source some video-game titles directly, instead of through local Australian distributors, comes from a desire to provide customers with a competitive price.

"In some cases, consumers could purchase [games] cheaper from overseas than we could locally," JB Hi-Fi marketing director Scott Browning told CNET's sister site GameSpot AU.

"We have decided to act in accordance with our cheapest prices promise, and source selected popular titles directly from overseas wholesalers in order to pass on these cheaper prices to customers."

Browning said that the retailer's decision also stems from its observance of "global pricing realities" in the video-gamevideo-game sector.

JB Hi-Fi's imported stock comes from territories like the UK; in some cases, the retailer is re-stickering imported stock to display Australian classification ratings. Some JB Hi-Fi stores are currently selling imported video-game stock alongside Australian stock, but at cheaper prices.

However, when asked if the decision to source video-game stock from overseas, instead of buying from Australian distributors, had been communicated to its local distribution partners, JB Hi-Fi did not comment.

EB Games also confirmed that it has been importing overseas video-game stock to sell in its Australian stores, but claims it only does so on "rare" occasions, when stocking a product from local distributors is not a feasible option. However, the retailer said it had informed its local video-game distribution partners of this move.

"EB Games is committed to supporting the Australian gaming industry, and, as standard practice, buy our stock from local vendor partners," EB Games national brand, events and engagement manager Debra McGrath told GameSpot AU. "There are rare times when stocking a product from a local vendor is not a feasible option, and stock needs to be obtained elsewhere. This is something that our vendor partners are aware of."

The iGEA, which represents Australian video-game publishers and distributors, said parallel importing into Australia is not a new issue. However, iGEA CEO Ron Curry said that "grey importing" does impact local publishers and distributors, by taking away from locally generated revenue.

Importing stock from overseas "stems right back to the SNES and Mega Drive days", Curry said. "In the past, with a low Australian dollar and high costs of importing product into Australia, parallel importing was carried out in an opportunistic manner — AAA sellers and niche products tended to be the focus of importers. [However,] Europe's continuing struggle, with its worsening economic position, has seen a flood of excess stock hit the open market. Coupled with a very strong dollar, this makes it very appealing for local retailers to purchase this product directly from offshore wholesalers."

Curry said that local publishers and distributors need a level of support from Australian retailers, to maintain their survival in the local market.

"The revenues generated locally support, not only local employment, but fund marketing, in-store displays, advertising, classification obligations, etc. Without this local level of support, retailers in Australia will see a direct impact on their businesses, as will consumers, and other local businesses who survive by supporting the Australian video-game industry."

Last month, the Australian government announced a move to investigate high tech and game prices in Australia.

Via GameSpot AU

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NickH2 posted a comment   

I agree, if a distributor is not on a reasonable pricing structure, whether it be from the manufacturer, themselves or demands by retailers for a premium margin then open slather it will be and the only winner is the manufacturer and the customer. I know of no manufacturer that diddles a legit distributor, I know of distributors who price gouge, but that is quickly going to end.

"grey importing" does impact local publishers and distributors, by taking away from locally generated revenue."

Then drop your price, don't whinge


LostGemini posted a comment   

I am all for supporting local businesses HOWEVER... When they charge $100 each game I find this grossly over the top. I can buy any game I want from the UK for often half the price and that includes postage and packaging! I cannot and they certainly cannot justify that additional cost.


DanC2 posted a comment   

Cut out the middle man, and buy direct. Seems fair to me. Why should I pay for some people to line their pockets?

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