The federal government has launched an inquiry into the inflated prices of technology software, including video games, in Australia.
Major hardware and software manufacturers, including the likes of Apple and Microsoft, will be asked to defend their pricing structures and explain why Australians pay more for games, music, movies and software compared to our overseas counterparts, reports The Age.
Minister for Communications, Stephen Conroy, has signed off on the inquiry, along with other MPs who hope publicly asking the question will result in reduced prices.
Sydney MP Ed Husic says this is the first time software publishers have been asked to explain their prices.
"People here scratch their heads trying to work out why they get fleeced on software downloads," Mr Husic said. "When the Productivity Commission asked IT companies why they charge so much for downloads, even they found the answers were not persuasive."
"Small to medium-sized businesses might pay over $10,000 more on software compared to overseas counterparts," he added.
The debate over inflated software prices surfaced again last week when Adobe announced Australians would pay $1400 more than North Americans for its complete software suite.
Likewise, Australians are often forced to pay extra for new release video games, just for living in Australia. While Americans expect to pay around USD $60, Australians are asked for up to AUD $120 for the same game.
Even digital versions tend to cost more. Last year, Batman: Arkham City was accidentally available to pre-order on Steam in Australia at the American price of USD $39.99. It was quickly changed to USD $99.95 ahead of release for no apparent reason.
A Productivity Commission report released last year found little reason as to why Australians pay significantly more for software compared to overseas markets.
"In most cases are not persuasive, especially in the case of downloaded music, software and videos where the costs of delivery … are practically zero and uniform around the world," said the report.
By Ben Salter - Tweet @Ben_Salter