Game distributors are blocking the way for us to buy games cheaply, quickly and conveniently, just to keep them profitable. The great blogging “The World According to Intel” today raises an especially important and irritating point that has lately been causing Israeli gamers more trouble: a lot of games are coming today for digital distribution through systems such as Steam or even the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 PSN , But many of them, and even more important ones, are blocked to Israel and many other countries. The owners of the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3 face an even more basic problem – if they want to connect to the network they must give a fake address abroad, in the US or the UK for example, that the network services of the consoles are not officially supported in Israel. It’s more annoying on the PlayStation 3, of course, because it’s still a device that was officially imported to Israel by Isfar, which had explicitly promised in the past that it would be arranged “within weeks of launching the console”. A year and a half has passed since then, and we will probably continue to wait until Mashiach comes. Why can not we buy the GTA IV in Steam? Computer players also face this problem. This week, for example, it became known that GTA IV, the most successful game of the year, is going to be sold in the new version of the computer via the Steam system. It’s worth it, is not it? Not here. Israelis can visit Steam’s game page and see with eyes how Americans, Britons and others can buy the game for NIS 165 – much lower than the price in Israel – and play for free in Vice City.
But we in Israel are blocked. Gamers who want to buy the game are required to wait until it gets physically to the stores, pay more, and say more thanks. Why is this happening? Money, of course. The distribution rights of GTA IV in Israel belong exclusively to “Hed-Artzi”, which will be harmed if we are allowed to buy the game quickly, conveniently and cheaper through Steam. Game distributors are blocking us so they can keep earning GTA IV is just an example. There are quite a few other games that are blocked for digital purchases outside North America and the UK just to protect local sales. And we have not even begun to talk about how Xbox 360, Wii or PlayStation 3 games are sold in Israel at almost double the price you would buy from abroad and pay for shipping. And no, it’s not just because of taxes. Digital distribution is becoming the preferred buying route for many gamers. It’s convenient, it’s cheap, it’s fast – and you do not even have to leave the house.
If the gaming companies continue to insist on blocking this option for gamers who want to buy games, I’m afraid that some of them will prefer to download the pirate version of the game than wait until it gets to the store and pay 30% more for the fun. so what are we doing? Do not buy games in Israel – until they start investing in us! My recommendation: Do not take games off, it only hurts the industry. Buy them, but buy them from Steam when possible, and buy them for consoles from Play-Asia or from the Canadian VGP. Sometimes you will pay 50% less, and will also bypass the distributors of the Israeli games, which do not count you anyway. Has anyone ever seen an Israeli game server of Hed Artzi, Atari or Isfar? I do not. If the Israeli game distributors want us to continue to buy games in Israel despite the high price, they will start investing in us. Who will give us Israeli servers for their games. To organize competitions and championships for gamers.