Pillars of Eternity and City Skylines publisher Paradox Interactive has performed a U-turn on its recent price increases after an intense fan backlash.
Several weeks back, prices for Paradox games and DLC were raised in some countries to “match the purchasing power of those areas” – a reasoning which provoked a strong reaction from fans. The UK was one of the countries affected.
Paradox also publishes Stellaris, Europa Universalis 4 and Crusader Kings 2, and it was these titles which then saw their Steam user reviews bombarded by negative feedback.
In its defense, Paradox argued it had not raised prices for years – but regular users of Steam were not convinced.
“Our prices have remained pretty much the same for several years and it’s only natural for us to re-evaluate price points at regular intervals based on the strength of various currencies, fluctuations in world markets and many other factors,” Paradox wrote on its forum last month.
“Sadly this means that the price has gone up for certain regions and whilst this is something we’d like to avoid, it’s necessary to keep our price point more in line with our other markets. We sincerely apologise for any frustration this may cause and hope you can understand why we are doing this.”
The backlash did not die down, however, and only this week Paradox boss Fredrik Wester was maintaining the company line: “We stand by our new prices,” he wrote on the company’s forum, trying yet again to explain the company’s reasoning for “harmonising” costs across countries.
Less than 48 hours later, and it’s all change. After about a month of steadfast denial, Wester has confirmed a complete backtrack.
Prices will be “rolled back”, future changes communicated “well in advance”, and refunds given for those who’ve paid more over the past few weeks.
It’s not as straightforward as that – as Wester’s full statement explains. The ongoing Steam Summer Sale means, according to Wester, that prices can now not be edited until the sale is over.
Wester himself has taken the rap for the whole episode, describing himself as a “pig-headed CEO”.
“All you need to know is that the buck stops here,” he said, in response to fan criticism that the Paradox pricing change was anything to do with the publisher’s growth in size or part-ownership by Chinese conglomerate Tencent. “All problems/feedback can easily be sent my way, I will not always agree but I promise to listen.”
Anyone eligible for a refund should receive it after the Steam Summer Sale concludes on 5th July.
“For anyone who bought any of the games during this time (including during the summer sale) we will try to refund (if possible in the Steam platform) or reimburse with games of a value exceeding the difference,” Wester concluded.
“If none of this is possible (I do not in detail know the limits to the Steam platform) we will internally calculate the difference in revenue before and after the price change, double the value, and donate the money to the UNHCR [the UN’s refugee programme].”