Sure, back in July we were told that games retailers would be taking the hit from the then-recently announced rise in VAT and not raising prices, but now we’ve actually got to it, it seems like that might have been a little bit of a lie. We’ve engaged the TSA Re-pricing Confirmation Force (yeah, I went outside) and checked out the three major high-street games chains to see how hard the new rules will be hitting your wallet.
As it turns out, not so hard: of the three stores we checked, two had indeed upped their prices slightly, but the other had seemingly stuck to their guns and not adjusted the RRPs of games. The main point though is that there are no massive price jumps, and those that have increased theirs have listened to the words of Activision’s UK MD back in July: “In this industry retail tends to work in large price steps rounded to the nearest £5. Is it likely £39.99 will become £40.84?” said Andrew Brown. “Perhaps the VAT change will drive retail to re-think the large price steps being used.” Most of the price increases are indeed only a pound or so.
GAME appears to be the store with the most adjustments, with a lot of the new releases and chart games now up to £40.99 from the usual £39.99, and the same also applies to all of the recently-released Kinect titles. In addition, those big releases like Call of Duty: Black Ops and Gran Turismo 5 have gone up from £44.99 to £45.99. Gamestation appears to be doing much the same, and although my local store hasn’t got round to pricing up yet, online reports say that new releases are now £40.99, with the Move Starter Pack now up from £49.99 to just over £50. Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood and Black Ops were both £45.99 in my branch, though. HMV is the winner out of this one, not upping any of their prices past last week’s levels. Having said that, they still like charging a good £45 for most games out in the past couple of months, so maybe they’re not your best bet for a bargain.
On the plus side, online retailers seem to be keeping to their guns, with Play*, ShopTo and The Game Collection all keeping their prices the same. GAME, Gamestation and HMV’s websites also still have prices at the £39.99 level, not matching the new, higher in-store levels.
So, if you’re looking to avoid the VAT increase, your best bet is still, as usual, to shop around online before heading into stores. Of course, it’s likely that once the current “sales” finish up, we’ll see more games heading up to the new prices.
Are the retailers where you are raising prices to match the new level of VAT, or keeping pre-rise prices and taking the hit themselves?
*Editor’s note: Play are based in Jersey where VAT gets a bit weird. As the Channel Islands are not part of the EU, companies based in Jersey can sell goods on the British mainland without charging VAT at 20% per cent.