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Students Demand Fairplay over Video Game Prices

Written by: Hugh Lowry
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Students Demand Fairplay over Video Game Prices

Students who are regularly stung by the high price of PC and console software will soon be given the chance to have their voices heard, say the organisers of a new campaign.

The Fairplay campaign, led in part by industry journalist Stuart Campbell, plans to boycott the purchase of all video games from December 1st to 8th; one of the industry's most lucrative periods in a bid to drive down prices.

New games for the three major consoles currently range from around 35 on Sony's Playstation 2 up to as much as 45 on Microsoft's Xbox, although the Fairplay website (http://www.fairplay-campaign.co.uk/) suggests that: "there isn't a single reason that games couldn't be sold at 20." High retail prices are cited as being: "a disaster for the industry as well as us," since they dissuade potential consumers from making impulse purchases as they might with music or video products.

Currently game publishers must pay a flat rate fee to distribute their software on Microsoft, Nintendo or Sony's hardware. The primary aim of the boycott, which takes place during a period when around 80% of annual sales are made, is to replace this flat rate fee with a percentage of the game's store retail value, thus driving down prices.

The campaign website states: "Currently, a game sold at 40 requires a flat-rate licence fee of around 8-9. Clearly, this would make selling the game at 10 or 20 economically impossible for the publisher - they're being unfairly forced to set high prices."

The organisers predict that nobody would actually lose out through a price reduction - stating that if prices were cut in half, "sales would - at least - double." However, such claims have met with some opposition from figures in the industry, who point out that: "no evidence is ever presented to support this claim".

Miles Jacobson, head of Sports Interactive (producers of the popular Championship Manager series) says that the campaign has: "interpreted their results in a very journalistic way, rather than a business way."

"If the campaign works it's more likely to make more of the smaller companies go under and leave us with a non-creative software industry. And that would suck."

Speaking to Student Direct, Mr Campbell said: "Students are exactly the sort of young, enthusiastic demographic videogames are most popular with. There are hundreds of thousands of them out there who would love to be buying and playing videogames, but simply can't justify the ludicrous expense in the extremely difficult financial situation students find themselves in these days." He went on to add: "Affordable gaming would not only bring the industry short-term gain, but create a huge market of people who, coming out of university and into a comparatively healthy financial environment, would already be dedicated gamers ready to buy lots more games with their new wages (and of course, graduates tend to attract rather better wages and hence more spending money than school-leavers too). Sadly, that's just one of the many things the games industry is too short-sightedly stupid to see."


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