Digital PS4 games still up to 48% more expensive outside of the US. AAA Titles up to 57% more
If you are not purchasing your PS4 digital games on the US PSN store, I feel bad for you. I switched to a US PSN account several months ago, and I haven’t looked back.
Last year I published an article showing that PS4 and Vita games are about 50% more expensive in Europe than in the US. After doing the check this year, I can confirm this is still true. This year I am including Japan, Australia, Canada and Brazil in my analysis.
As I needed a sample to work with, I took the best 10 games out of Gamesradar’s 25 best PS4 titles. The list is fairly recent and includes a nice mix of indie and AAA titles.
As was the case in 2013, we see that PS4 digital games are much more expensive outside of the US.
Europe, including the UK, are the most sc*** of all: digital games cost 48% more in Europe than in the US. In other words, this means gamers can buy 3 games in the US for the same money that gets them 2 games in the UK, Germany, France, etc… Worse, if you’re into AAA games, some titles can go up to 59% more expensive in Europe.
Australia is not much better, with digital psn games costing on average 43% more than in the US. And that’s the average. At the end of the spectrum, AAA titles such as watch dogs cost up to 57% more in Australia.
The numbers in Brazil and Japan almost look reasonable compared to Europe, with PS4 games in Brazil being on average “only” 28% more expensive than in the US, and games in Japan 17% more expensive than in the US. Looking at the extremes again, AAA titles easily climb up to 50% more than their US counterparts, in both Brazil and Japan. (Note: for Japan some games were not available in the list, so the comparison was made only for the games available)
At least canada’s prices are more or less aligned with those of the US, actually a bit cheaper thanks to the current exchange rate between the two currencies.
What we see is that Indie titles tend to drive the differences in pricing a bit down. Basically if you’re into Indie gaming, that’s probably good for you. If you like AAA titles however, you get impacted even more by the insane price difference.
Wait, there has to be a catch, right?
No, there is no catch to these numbers. People have told me in the past that US prices don’t include the VAT, which is why they are cheaper. That is somewhat true, but not really. First, sales taxes in the US (the equivalent of the VAT) are typically between 5% and 8%. That’s basically nothing compared to the 50% price difference we are seeing here. Second, given that sales taxes are not enforced in all US states, it is pretty easy to bypass them entirely when purchasing digital goods in the US.
People have also told me that the numbers should be compared to the average income in each country in order to be fair. Well, surprise, surprise, the average income is higher in the US than in any other country in the world (source). If you actually calculate the numbers based on the average disposable income, the numbers get even crazier: games up to 70% more expensive in Australia, 90% in the UK, 170% in Germany (yes, we’re almost reaching 3 times the price at this point), etc…
Is this for me?
So if you live outside of the US, it’s pretty simple, the question to ask yourself is: how much would you benefit from the price cut if you switched to a US account today?
The first condition to switch to a US PSN account it to speak reasonable English. If you need your games to be in your native language, and that language is not English, then it won’t be good for you to use the US PSN. But if you live in the UK or Australia for example, this should be a no brainer.
The second thing to take into account is how much you still rely on physical purchases today. Many people still buy physical discs and resell them to a local store for resale. Basically, if you can resell your physical games for more than 33% of their price, you break even with the US store (except that with the US store technique, you get to actually keep the game – albeit digitally). What I think is that if you can’t resell your games for more than half their price of purchase, you should think about switching to a US account, and go digital instead. Also keep in mind that physical games are not region locked, so you can still buy physical games locally and use them on your US account! This actually means that if you are into physical games, that’s even a better reason to switch to a US account now, so you’ll be ready when the worlld goes to “digital only”.
Finally, people have told me they are afraid to make the switch, because of their previous investments on another account, and that might be the one good reason to not switch. It really depends on how much you have spent so far, and how much games you plan to buy moving forward. To put it simply, it would basically take you less than twice the time you’ve put in so far to break even and start saving. And that’s assuming you want to re-purchase your entire collection in the US account, which most people won’t really do! In my case, I just switch to my old account on the other country once in a while, if I want to play one of my old games. Again, keep in mind that this does not apply to physical games, that you can reuse on the new account.
In other words:
- If your level of English is reasonable
- If you don’t already have many digital games on your “other” account
then you should definitely switch to a US account like I did.
How to switch to a US account and purchase on the US PSN
Switching accounts on the PS4 is easy, just make sure you enter a dummy US address when creating the new account, so that the PS4 knows this is going to be a US account. On the Vita, it’s a bit of a pain but I explain how it’s done here.
The real trick is how to purchase stuff on the US PSN without a US credit card. Paypal or the PSN itself won’t let you do that. The best solution is to buy PSN cards with instant email delivery through Amazon. The basic idea is to purchase a PSN Digital card on Amazon, and make sure to put a US billing address on your credit card. I explain in details how it’s done here.
It’s not only about the “everyday” prices. There tends to be more “flash sales” on the US PSN, and on external stores as well. For example, last year in November it was possible to get 1 year of PS+ subscription for only $30 in the US! Also, having a US PSN account on your PS4 lets you access US-only services such as Netflix, assuming you use a DNS redirection trick.
I have saved hundreds of euros/dollars on my gaming hobby since I switched to a US PSN account several months ago. The only reason Sony charge more in Europe, Australia, Brazil, or Japan, is because people let them do so. You can go the hard way, complain for years to Sony about their pricing policy and see how they won’t bulge, or you can go the easy route like I did, and switch to a US account today. If you’re like me, you won’t be looking back, and laugh at the people who are still stuck on their old habits.