Britons shafted in console rip-off

8th Apr 2007 | 23:00

Britons shafted in console rip-off

Continuing the Rip-off Britain series, we look at consoles

There surely cannot be a better example of rip-off Britain than in the games console market. Britain's dedicated game lovers are being royally screwed by games hardware manufacturers, and we've got the figures to prove it.

Go out and buy a PlayStation 3 console in Japan today and you can expect to pay around £214 for it. In the UK the ugly figure is £425; very nearly twice the price.

But the PS3 is not the only example of gaming hardware being heavily overpriced in the UK, and the Japanese are not the only Earth dwellers significantly better off than the British. In fact, the UK is the most expensive place to buy games consoles in the whole world.

Take a step outside into the lovely spring weather, journey down to your local town centre, or if you'd prefer, stay in your seat and shop online... If you were to buy a PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 , Nintendo Wii, Sony PlayStation Portable ( PSP ) and a Nintendo DS Lite in Japan, you'd be asked to hand over about £680 in total. Not bad for such an array of powerful and desirable gear.

Shocking statistics

The same shopping spree in rip-off Britain will set you back a heinously ludicrous £1,032. That's a difference of £350 - enough to buy you an additional PlayStation 3 console AND a second Nintendo Wii in Japan.

The same shopping basket in the USA will cost you over £250 less than the UK, and you don't have to cross mountains and high sees for these rip-offs to reveal themselves, either. A trip to Germany, home of the other big European economy, would save you £127. It's almost worth a walk and a quick swim just to get there.

And if you're young and think this great British rip-off is a new concept, you'd be wrong. When the Playstation 2 launched seven years ago, it cost around £300 in the UK, and around $300 (plus a bit of tax) in the USA. That's almost half the price. Our American cousins, it seems, are regularly being charged significantly less in comparison to us Britons across the Atlantic. Rip-off Britain has been around for some time, and it seems it's here to stay.

Just yesterday, Sony reduced the price of the PSP in the USA to bring it in line with Japanese prices. The Sony handheld will cost you around £80 in Japan and America now. And the current price on Amazon UK? A whopping 140 smackeroos.

A history of neglect

It was a similarly horrific rip-off story with the original PlayStation in 1995.

When the Sega Mega Drive was launched in Europe in 1990, the price in pounds was only slightly less than the price in dollars was when it launched in America a whole year previously. It was a comparable tale with the 3.4MHz 8-bit Sega Master System in the 1980s.

And it's not just gaming gear that's being given the price hike treatment, either. The biggest selling consumer electronics device in the world is the Apple iPod : more expensive in the UK than almost anywhere else in the civilised world.

It's also worth mentioning that rip-off Britain is not just defined by price; choice is also a significant factor. For instance, in North America, gaming fans have the option of buying a Premium 60GB PS3 or a cheaper 20GB one which costs $100 less. In the UK, buyers have only one choice; the more expensive version.

But as always in cases such as these, there is some consolation to be found; it could be worse. In Serbia, for instance, the retail price of the PlayStation 3 is almost £500.

GamingiPodMicrosoftMobile computingPlayStation 3Portable audioPortable video
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