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Buying game keys on the internet is a great example of a stupid business method
sheldon, wikipedia
We've finished Diablo 3. One and a half times in my case, two and a half times in Julie's case. It's still fun (I just hit level 60 with my main), but we'd quite like to play on into the expansion. Which means buying an upgrade.

There are two main ways of doing this:
1) Buy an upgrade via Battle.Net, the official Blizzard app. This will cost you £32.
2) Buy a physical copy, wait for it to arrive, type in a code, and then throw it in the bin. This will cost you £29. And take longer. And be physically wasteful.

The third method, which I used, is to use a site like GameMafia Pro, which will charge me £20, and then email me a _photo_ of a cd-key taken from a box, and then throw that box away for me.

Which, admittedly, is both cheaper and easier than buying the box myself and throwing the box away myself. But it is absolutely ludicrous that the cheapest option involves boxes at all. Presumably, Blizzard sells boxes for £17-or-so, so that shops can have a markup and still sell it for £30. And presumably they'd rather not sell game keys in bulk without the attached DVD, because they want you to buy upgrades digitally direct from them, and make the extra £12. (And I also assume that they can't undercut their own RRP, because that would piss off Amazon and the rest of their supply chain.)

But the overall resulting situation is just ridiculous, and wasteful.

Original post on Dreamwidth - there are comment count unavailable comments there.

That's silly. I guess it would be for the markup in the end, but people like fast and without clutter - that's the modern way. You'd think they'd recognize that. There's a reason why Kindle books on Amazon are usually cheaper - because there's no physical copy, it shouldn't cost as much.

Which is even more impressive in the UK since physical books don't have VAT on them, but ebooks do.

VAT might be the reason for the existence of the physical box and key, printing the key on the box = no VAT, e-key = VAT. Maybe.

Trying to get my head around the idea of taxing a digital download, but not a physical object offered for sale. Value added is value added, right?

In the UK books, magazines, newspapers and the like are not eligible for VAT because they are presumed to be valuable adjuncts to the intellectual and social well-being of the nation [0]. This is different from things like children's clothing and basic foodstuffs (fruit, vegetables, meat etc.) which are zero-rated i.e. they have a VAT rate of 0% since by European law they are required to be covered by VAT but the government has set the current rate for such things to be zero.

As I understand it paid-for downloads of computer entertainment such as games, music, movies etc. are subject to VAT as they're not printed materials like books. If the actual download is free but to play a game or other entertainment requires a paid-for key then downloading or transferring that key electronically will require VAT to be paid. If it is printed material then it is not subject to VAT. Sending someone a scan of a key AS LONG AS IT WAS PRINTED IN THE FIRST PLACE is therefore not subject to VAT either, or so the operators hope.

[0] Decades ago there were rumours that the Chancellor was going to put VAT on books and newspapers. This inspired me to, for the first and only time in my life, to write a letter to the Office of the Exchequer and cced to my local MP politely asking them not to do this. I like to think my letter tipped the balance as no VAT was ever imposed on books.

I do find it baffling when the digital option is more expensive. Nintendo Wii shop has this often. Very annoying.

This whole internet thing is laminated out of Make It Up As We Go. This is the pre-Cambrian explosion of attempts at social superstructure, especially in business models. So bizarre architectures and evolutionary dead ends are only to be expected.
Internet time or not, humans are still on human time. It'll shake itself out, but not without oddities, sparks, and occasional explosions.

That will be fixed, trivially, if and when Diablo 3 ever gets a PC release.

(No, it's not available for the PC yet. I know you think it's available, but you're wrong. Crap Steam-competitor "exclusives" are functionally identical to "not released at all, ever" because they're crap and don't work right and are overpriced and also are run by idiots.)

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