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Is Collecting Physical Games Worth It (Part III)

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My Into the Breach pre-order from almost arrived: I received a nice letter from Bpost, the Belgian post company, in which they claim I bought something without VAT outside of the EU. Here we go again… Naturally, after the necessary cursing, I started questioning physical game collecting—again. Here’s some rough math to get you up to speed.

Perhaps read Part I and Part II first.

Consider the following games and price breakdowns:

  • Dicey Dungeons: eShop €14.99, physical £47.18 (£9.99 shipping, £8.19 tax)
  • Castlevania Anniversary Collection: eShop €19.99, physical €47.75
  • Axiom Verge 1+2: eShop €35.98, physical $72.00 ($49.99, $10.26 shipping, $12.86 tax)
  • Into the Breach: eshop €14.99, physical €59.37 ($34.00, $5.17 shipping, €20.25 tax)
  • Bug Fables: eshop €29.99, physical €65.00 ($39.99, $10 shipping, €15 tax)

By equating €=$=£, I ignored currency conversions which can be very painful as the Euro is doing bad on all fronts. Game sources are Super Rare Games (Dicey Dungeons), Fangamer (Into the Breach), Limited Run Games (the rest).

Breaking these games down by digital and physical retail price, we get the following graph:

Physical prices in red (upper graph), digital in blue (lower).

It’s fairly obvious that there’s a huge gap between both plots. Physical games cost 3.1, 2.4, 2.0, 4.0, 2.2 times as much—on average, 2.7, almost three times more than a digital copy at full price. What the hell happened here?

When analyzing the base cost, shipping, and taxes, it becomes clear that tax is a huge contributor to that large modifier. For Limited Run Games, which is based in the US, I once had to pay €15 extra (Bug Fables), but they recently changed their packaging and shipping procedure to include VAT payment for EU countries on beforehand. By buying at non-EU companies that do not do that—Fangamer, for instance—you risk additional administrative flat rate fees because customs has to “process” your package. These “inklaringskosten” are €15 for packages under €150 in Belgium for Bpost and only €4 in The Netherlands for Postnl. Into the Breach’s extra VAT charge is only €5…

Some more useless calculations:

Game Shipping Tax
Dicey Dungeons 21% 17 %
Castlevania Anniversary ?? ??
Axiom Verge 1+2 20.5% 26%
Into the Breach 9% 34%
Bug Fables 15% 23 %
Avg. 16.4% 25%

Even without taking the epic fail of Fangamer into account, taxes still account for +20% of the total physical game price—thank you, EU import regulations. Physical game collectors in the EU are getting hammered.

I bought every one of those games except Dicey Dungeons. I just could not justify paying three times as much for a game that’s nice but not superb and I’ll probably get bored of within ten hours of repeated gameplay as it’s a roguelike. The sad state of these numbers is made even more fun of when taking regular discounts of the Nintendo eShop into account. For example, I just saw that until next Monday, Dicey Dungeons is 90% off and now costs €1.49.

Although I love to support physical game manufacturers like Limited Run Games, I’m beginning to wonder whether or not I should give up this ridiculousness. Instead, I could buy three games instead of one, and send the money where it belongs: the developers. Furthermore, manufacturers aren’t transparent about their base prices break-down: how much of that is actually needed for production?

What annoys me the most are the very steep prices or sometimes even the unavailability of a lot of compelling retro and game-related collectible stuff for people living in the EU. If you’re an American, your Limited Run game will not come with extra taxes, and the shipping costs will be halved. So that’s $45 for Bug Fables compared to the (roughly) $30 eShop price; 1.5x as much, not more than twice or triple the price!

I’m perfectly fine with having to pay twice as much (Hollow Knight: eShop €14.99, €29.99 Amazon), but let’s keep it that way, shall we?

tags icon games collecting

I'm Wouter Groeneveld, a Brain Baker, and I love the smell of freshly baked thoughts (and bread) in the morning. I sometimes convince others to bake their brain (and bread) too.

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