Oh huh. when Horizon Zero Dawn PC came out it was very cheap, ZAR 236 (~USD 13), and I bought it quickly because I knew I wanted it and I assumed it was a mistake on steam’s part that I could take advantage of. They later tripled the price to ZAR 680 (~USD 40), which I thought was them fixing it.

Turns out what actually happened was that this was just steam’s regional pricing adjustment at work, but the adjustment was so steep (particularly in Argentina, which was only USD 7 equivalent) and for such a popular game that loads of people used VPN’s to buy the game at foreign pricing.

Lowering the effective price for other countries is a pretty sensible move on Steam’s part, and I hope they don’t stop doing it. The South African Rand is nowhere near the weakest currencies out there, but the amount of disposable income here is much lower (heck, South Africa only /got/ a legal minimum wage last year, and it’s about USD 1.3/hour after a 10% hike this year) and paying dollar prices is hells of expensive. 60 dollars is pricey in the USA, but paying ZAR 1000 in South Africa is hideously expensive for many people. It’s even worse in places like Kenya or Indonesia. There’s a reason why I’m considering moving my server infrastructure to Russian providers who work in Rubles.

The GOG store makes a selling point of “you always pay the base price” which I guess attracts euros and pounds but means that I sometimes find software 30% cheaper on Steam because they actually sell at local adjusted prices. SteamDB actually lets you see prices per country and you can see how wide some of the adjustments are.

@rustingbridges said

dang that’s a low minimum wage. what’s rent / general expenses like

Big Mac index is about 50%, i.e. you pay half as much for a big mac here than in the USA in raw currency terms, and that calculation more or less carries to a lot of food products, cost of living and so on. As you can imagine, ½ USA expenses but ⅙th USA minimum wage means living on minimum wage Is Not Great.

If you work 40 hour weeks at minimum wage you make ~ZAR 3300 (USD 200), and the lowest rent 1 bedroom apartment you can get anywhere near a city is usually around ZAR 2000. Rural areas are cheaper but there’s actually an adjustment on minimum wage for farm workers that drops it to like ZAR 18 per hour, or about One Dollar. You can make up to 3-4× minimum wage without a degree in most cases if you manage to work up to like, store manager or whatever, but that’s kind of your cap without some kind of professional training. Food and other expenses eat the remaining money extremely fast.

If you’re on minimum wage and on your own it’s extremely hard to get by, and even with roommates or family it’s very rough, if you want to try renting. A lot of people live in multigenerational homes for historic, cultural and economic reasons. What “if you want to try renting” means is something I’ll get to under the cut, because unfortunately for this explanation, South Africa is less one economy as much as it is like three in a trench coat. We’ve already covered Low Income, but there’s also The Professional Class and Informal Economies.

Keep reading

yeah that’s not great


#adventures in human capitalism #South Africa #interesting #the more you know

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