Import debate heats up following JB HiFi advertising imported stock

Leigh Harris
Import debate heats up following JB HiFi advertising imported stock

With JB HiFi and EB Games importing copies of games, the debate about its effect on the local industry is increadingly important.

A little while ago, MCV wrote about the potential risks of the high prices of Australian videogames, including ramifications for local publishing arms if an accord couldn't be brokered with retailers.

Now, it looks like the potential has become real, as JB HiFi publicly moved to advertise its imported stock earlier this week, amidst a parliamentary inquiry into IT sector pricing.

After the news broke that EB Games was importing copies of Star Wars: The Old Republic earlier this year, the company issued a statement indicating when it considered such moves necessary.

Ron Curry, CEO of the iGEA, has now weighed in with his concerns for what further moves in this direction could mean for the local publishers.

Curry told GameSpot: "[Importing stock from overseas] stems right back to the SNES and Mega Drive days. 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."

"Wholesale parallel importing does have a direct impact on local publishers, distributors, and the companies who support them. 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."

With high profile titles like Ghost Recon: Future Soldier and The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings coming out at AUD$89.95, and even triple A games like Max Payne no longer breaking the $99.95 mark, it would seem that publishers are looking to meet retailers half way.

Local publishers remain the only feasible way for retailers to get large quantities of stock for day one, so at the moment stock is a hybrid of imported and locally sourced copies, and even then only on select titles.


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Tags: Retail , pricing , Publishers , imports , politics , eb games , igea , ron curry , JB HiFi

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