We all know why games got expensive in South Africa. While we could try to sugar-coat it, there isn’t really a reason to — the rand is in the toilet.
It’s strengthened a little against the dollar, but not even America’s election of the class clown was enough to fix the sorry state of our currency.
What South African distributors really need, though, is for the rand to strengthen against the Euro. Although it has made some gains, our currency has not been able to bounce back to its mid–2015 levels.
Britain’s decision to take a sledgehammer to its economy, on the other hand, has been great for our end of the pound-rand exchange rate.
However, as the tables below will show, the weak pound didn’t really change the outcome of this comparison.
Movies as a baseline for entertainment value
|Movie ticket price comparison||Price||Adjusted for PPP|
|US Regal 3D||R207.39 ($15.50)||$15.50|
|US AMC 3D||R236.69 ($17.69)||$17.69|
|UK Odeon Camden||R244.85 (£14.75)||$21.28|
|UK Odeon London Tottenham||R281.37 (£16.95)||$24.46|
This comparison tries to answer two simple questions — How many movies can you watch for the price of a single triple-A game in South Africa and how does it compare to the US and UK?
Movies offer an easy basic measure of entertainment value, as it is typically a set price for roughly 2 hours of escapism.
Ticket prices may vary, but so may the price of games. For the sake of simplicity we set the following conditions:
- We used the prices of a newly-launched, big-name games on Steam like Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare.
- Movie ticket prices of Real3D screenings in standard cinemas were used. No Prestige cinemas, full adult ticket prices — no discounts.
Out of interest, we also converted prices to International dollar using the World Bank’s purchasing power parity conversion factors for 2015.
As the table above shows, South African 3D movie prices are about in-line with US prices, and somewhat cheaper than UK prices when looking at purchasing power.
How many movies can you watch for the price of a game?
|New digital release||Price||Adjusted for PPP||Movies per game|
|Steam US||R802.67 ($59.99)||$59.99||3.87|
|Steam UK||R663.83 (£39.99)||$57.71||2.71|
When it comes to the price of games, however, South Africa doesn’t fare as well.
Even if you look at top-shelf games like Dishonored 2 which sell for slightly cheaper in South Africa (R799 on Steam), you can still watch 8.78 movies for the price of that one game.
To be clear — this does not mean that we’re overpaying for games, or underpaying for movies.
All it shows is that there is a massive disparity in video game pricing in South Africa compared to alternative forms of entertainment.
Our judgement of whether a game is worth the price will therefore be very different from markets like the US and UK, because for us buying a game is a far more significant expense than it is for them.