JB HiFi made headlines earlier this week when it announced that it is going to openly parallel import games and sell them at a lower price compared to the grossly overinflated Australian Recommended Retail Prices.
It’s hardly a new practice. It’s how online retailers have made their name, and EB Games, GameTraders and the struggling GAME have all tried their hand at it. However, never openly as imports. GameTraders, for example, imported copies of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D from the UK because it was inexplicably delayed in Australia, but then sold them for a massive mark-up at the local RRP.
That’s not real importing.
If you’re not up with the times, parallel or “grey” importing is the practice of buying stock from an overseas warehouse at a much cheaper price compared to local distributors, and then selling it in Australia (in our case).
Europe shares our Pal region, and once it has the Australian classification stick put over that crazy PEGI logo, it is exactly the same as the local stock the costs up to double the price. ; although, to really be picky, Club Nintendo cards also don’t work and sometimes DLC and servers are region locked in the rare exception that Australia gets its own.
Once it has the Australian classification stick put over that crazy PEGI logo, it is exactly the same as the local stock the costs up to double the price.
It’s the first time a local retailer has advertised that it is mass importing mainstream games and sold them at the discounted, near UK, rate. Online stores have boomed in the wake of doing this, both those based in Australia like MyGames, and those internationally that focus on shipping to the world, like OzGameShop. Previously it has been reserved for niche items, as a way to get games early and to make a sneaky inflated profit.
Consumers know that they will have to wait a little longer to get the European imports, but the savings can be massive. As far as I can remember, games have always been around the horrendous $99.95 mark, with a few brief attempts at increasing that to $120. The same game in Europe is close to $60. And yes, that’s Australian dollars and is compatible with your Pal console.
Already we’ve seen what JB could be capable of. The import of Super Mario 3D Land is listed as $44. The Australian version is still available in-stores for $59, and that’s $10 under the Australian recommended price.
Perhaps local distributors are starting to take note. Ghost Recon: Future Soldier was released today with an R.R.P. of $89.95. That’s crazy! Somehow it allows JB to sell the Australian stock for as little as $69 at launch. Following their normal conventions, it’ll rise to near $89 following the launch period, but that might not matter if it can get UK stock and sell it for closer to $59.
JB would essentially dominate the market. The only way for it to get enough stock to satisfy the launch rush would be to purchase from local distributors. To get customers through the doors, it has always sold games very close to cost during launch week, and raised the price soon after.
That could all change with increased parallel importing. JB could essentially cut-off local distributors after launch, and focus on the much cheaper UK copies. Price is the most important thing to JB customers, and those who desperately want an Australian copy can get it for a reasonable price at launch.
That would be terrible for the local industry, but great for local consumers, and the customer is always right.
I wouldn’t be surprised, however, if JB is only doing this in a rash attempt to force video game prices down. It doesn't want its bargain-conscious consumers to head overseas for games. It wants them to come in and buy a local copy. If that can’t happen, it wants them to come in a buy an imported copy in a local store. If it’s a successful model, which all signs suggest it will be, local distributors will have to adapt and figure out a way to lower Australian prices or face extinction.
By Ben Salter - Bio