Steam Region-Locks All Games From Russia, Asia, South America

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Steam Region-Locks All Games From Russia, Asia, South America

Steam logo

Users from these regions will no longer be able to send or receive gifted games from any other region.

One of the greatest things about Steam is how consumer friendly and non-invasive it is to its massive user-base all over the world. However, a move made by the company earlier in the week has taken away a huge chunk of freedom from users in some regions. Fans have discovered that Valve "flipped the switch" on every game sold in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), Russia, Southeast Asia, South America, and Turkey regions, disallowing users in these places from sending or receiving gifted games with other users.

For a bit of insight on why and how this happened, we need to look back to December of last year, when Valve introduced a AllowCrossRegionTradingAndGifting tag, that publishers could turn on to stop gamers from gifting its game across regions. As for the why, well, global currencies rise and fall in strength, so that that games in say Russia, when converted to the local currency, can be considerably cheaper than games in the USA. There's also the matter of censored or banned games, which players in unaffected regions can trade in.

Anyway, according to some reddit sleuths, Valve went ahead and took that AllowCrossRegionTradingAndGifting and turned it on for every game in the affected regions. While it won't affect games already in players' inventory, any new game purchased by these users will be greeted with some variation of the following message:

Gift purchases for Crusader Kings II can only be added to the gift recipient's library if they are in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Republic of Moldova, Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan

PC gamers are understandably upset at this change, as the ability to "grey import" a title from a cheaper region is something we have been able to do ever since importing existed. Region-locking has always been a "console problem," but now it looks like its seeping its way onto the PC too.

Source: Engadget via reddit

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Its cool guys. Valve totally is your benevolent dictators and would never ever do something solely to dick over customers in the name of profit margins!

Now that that is out of my system, that is pretty jacked. It'd be one thing if they never allowed it in the first place, but its been allowed for so long that at this point most people assumed that's what you were supposed to do in the first place. Its totally within Valves right to do so, but its never not goin to be a dick move.

while on the surface this appears to be another case of "old corporations being unwilling to move with the times". I'm not so sure it is. Valve isn't one of the old guard who is afraid of change. If this was say, Nintendo, then that would make a lot more sense. But as it stands I'll give Valve the benefit of the doubt until more information comes out.

I am wondering if this has to do with certain countries currencies dropping very low because of the lower cost of crude oil and that led them to just localize the games, but I do wonder how much further Valve might take this.

Eh, as long as they're not breaking games that were already purchased, I don't see a problem. I suspect they're doing this out of necessity, to prevent people from buying in regions where the games are already sold at a ridiculously low price to curb piracy, and then reselling them and undercutting the Steam store. I mean, sometimes these games can get really cheap (think $5 USD for new games) just because otherwise they'd be pirated; I'd be willing to bet some online store has been snatching games up at those prices and selling them at almost what Valve is charging in the US (which is still less than most of Europe, Australia).

P.S Thanks

I am perfectly fine with this. Those regions prices are low to help combat piracy and to balance against lower wages, not so other countries can exploit it to get discounts.
Its the same reason countries like Australia frequently pay more for stuff, because the minimum wage is higher. When people exploit the regional pricing, they are ripping off the developers more than Valve, costing smaller indie companies a lot of money, so I see this as a positive.

Yeah, games are practically measured by TF2 crate keys on some boards, it's kinda funny. Oh hey, cool new game you got, how much was it? 5 TF2 keys! Meanwhile EUR to USD is still 1:1, so the world hasn't gone completely mad.

Considering that steam prices are already extremely low during the many, many sales the service has, I don't mind this change that much. Sure, it might mean I can't buy games as cheap from key vendors anymore, but eh... just gotta wait for the normal sales instead.

Except that reasoning makes absolutely no sense considering A:) Most developers are based in America and B:) We're talking about digital products.

There is no reason a game SHOULD be more expensive in Australia. Technically, it COULD be more expensive considering the higher average wage, but its not "ripping the developer off" by offering it at the same price. Example:

Developer A sells game X for Y dollars in the US. It decides to localize the game for the Australian Steam store. As it's a digital product, the only thing it really needs to do is get approval to sell in the region from the various channels, which means it essentially costs the developer absolutely nothing to sell the game in Australia.

Of course, the AUD is weaker than the USD, so taking into account the exchange rate... the game's price rises to Z. This is were it should stop. The developer is still getting the exact same amount of money on every copy of the game sold, at no detriment to itself. It has allowed people in another region to purchase the game.

Rising the price of game X to Z+$20 because "Australians can afford it" is actually exploiting Australians. Yes, our minimum wage is higher, but why should middle-class earners, who are earning the same as middle-class earners in the US, suffer because of it?

Hope that clears things up.

Does this apply to Japan? I'm asking because I know people there and this would be unfortunate news if they were included in the region lock. Especially since games aren't that much cheaper there. Is there a list of countries this affects? The title says "Asia" but only southeast Asia is mentioned in the article.

Steven Bogos:
snip

Everything you said is true, but I don't think it applies in this situation. I'd imagine (I'm only speculating) that it was done to combat people buying games for a under cut in places where it's economy isn't viable. People would spoof their IP's and buy games for pennies, then sell them for a profit, and undercutting VALVe. I'm curious if australlia is actually impacted by this cause sometimes it's grouped up with Asia as a region.

It would be nice if they allowed you to gift/send games from the place with a higher value.

E.G) if it costs 50USD for COD in the US, and it's 10USD in Egypt you would be able to gift it to Egypt but not the other way around. And maybe add a US region tag on the item so you can ship it around if need be.

I'm no economist though so I dunno how bad of an idea that would be.

Steven Bogos:
Except that reasoning makes absolutely no sense considering A:) Most developers are based in America and B:) We're talking about digital products.

There is no reason a game SHOULD be more expensive in Australia. Technically, it COULD be more expensive considering the higher average wage, but its not "ripping the developer off" by offering it at the same price. Example:

Developer A sells game X for Y dollars in the US. It decides to localize the game for the Australian Steam store. As it's a digital product, the only thing it really needs to do is get approval to sell in the region from the various channels, which means it essentially costs the developer absolutely nothing to sell the game in Australia.

Of course, the AUD is weaker than the USD, so taking into account the exchange rate... the game's price rises to Z. This is were it should stop. The developer is still getting the exact same amount of money on every copy of the game sold, at no detriment to itself. It has allowed people in another region to purchase the game.

Rising the price of game X to Z+$20 because "Australians can afford it" is actually exploiting Australians. Yes, our minimum wage is higher, but why should middle-class earners, who are earning the same as middle-class earners in the US, suffer because of it?

Hope that clears things up.

Because the EU is updating its taxation laws on digital purchases, Steven. As of January 1, purchases are taxed based on the location of the purchaser, not the seller. That means that if someone buys from a seller not in their own country, it's not just a currency exchange that has to take place; that seller must pay tax to the country the buyer is located in.

That may not sound like much of a pain in the butt, but when you are talking about 75 separate tax codes that have to be filed quarterly, it becomes pretty attractive to a marketplace to say, "You buy from developers in your country and nowhere else."

I can understand why Valve wants to guard against other regions doing the same thing and threw the switch for everybody instead of just Europe.

Well what a surprise its all happy and dandy to the majority here and elsewhere from the looks of it. Even top heel "Big Bad" Microsoft have that region lock off (current)... and there was a bit of stink from what I recall when Sony said they were once again going to have the region lock off (which they've had off for ages), but Microsoft wasn't... well I suppose region locking was the least of Microsofts problems at the time... anyway getting sidetracked.

Actually... best I calm myself. I just got done going through threads involving CM Christ you see so my tolerance for this stuff is at all time low at the moment, forgive me.

First thoughts was it was stemming from the money problem they are having over in Russia... but more than Russia is affected. Why isn't good old Britain included? VAT and all that after all.

That makes sense, they've been doing this for a while, and I'm only surprised they've admitted to it. I had a few long and angry email exchanges with them because I live in asia but I tried to use my US credit card. They asked me for scans of my passport and scans of my drivers license as well as a scan of my credit card including the security code on the back. And this was just to ask a question about whether or not they were region locking content based on my IP or if I had not changed my currency settings correctly. Needless to say I was 100% grandfathered into steam through counter-strike and even though at one point I quite liked steam, I really feel like the industry needs to kill this service. They have so much power and they are so controlling. They are more controlling than apple, and they feel more closed off that consoles do now. No console is region locked at this point except the Wii U and 3DS respectively and the gaming community is much better off for it.

Valve I hope will one day be irrelevant. Personally I think a replacement service could not come soon enough.

War_Dyn27:
I am perfectly fine with this. Those regions prices are low to help combat piracy and to balance against lower wages, not so other countries can exploit it to get discounts.
Its the same reason countries like Australia frequently pay more for stuff, because the minimum wage is higher. When people exploit the regional pricing, they are ripping off the developers more than Valve, costing smaller indie companies a lot of money, so I see this as a positive.

like how dragon age inquisition costs three times the price walking into a store here vs picking it up on amazon ripping off developers you mean?

Well, if to choose between jacking the prices up or getting region locked, I say Valve chose the lesser of two evils.
Then again, the real evil here is international politics.

War_Dyn27:
I am perfectly fine with this. Those regions prices are low to help combat piracy and to balance against lower wages, not so other countries can exploit it to get discounts.
Its the same reason countries like Australia frequently pay more for stuff, because the minimum wage is higher. When people exploit the regional pricing, they are ripping off the developers more than Valve, costing smaller indie companies a lot of money, so I see this as a positive.

Bullshit. Corporations shouldn't get to exist in a global marketplace when it suits them(outsourcing service labour and production to cut costs, having a hundred different international entities for the Tax Avoidance Conga etc), then fall back to old-timey Protectionism whenever it disadvantages them. If they can afford to sell the game for $5 in Uzbekistan and make money, they can afford to sell it globally for $5, they just don't want to because it means they can gouge people. "Region locking" is and always has been a crock, and it's annoying to see Valve getting in on the hypocrisy.

hmmm. I'm a UK expat living in Russia (yeah...great time to be here). I wonder how much this will affect me. I pay using my UK card and my steam account is still listed as being in the UK. I actually pay higher prices when purchasing games at UK rates. Would I be forced to buy games localized to Russia? My Russian isn't good enough to have to play through everything in Russian.

Good to see there is a lack of corporate apologists in here today.

I love steam but, seriously? They should cut that shit out. They are massively profitable as it is, the gifting from russian gamers to european gamers is not serious enough that it needs to be banned.

I can understand why they do it. Increasing the cost of games in these countries instead would mean that many gamers in those countries could not afford video games. I have bought a few keys from those countries before and this change means I'll have to wait a lot longer (until a decent sale) before I can buy games. In the end it means I'll miss out on some games (or will have to wait longer).
However, the alternative is them matching prices in which case I'd end up in the same situation and people from other countries would be completely fucked. So this course is the better choice.

I just love how valve gets away with things that other companies would be crucified for.
I will never approve of region locking. I don't like when Nintendo does it, and I don't start liking it because Valve does it. Its the same as DRM, a cynical and obstructive system put in place solely to prevent a largely theoretical loss of profit.

Li Mu:
hmmm. I'm a UK expat living in Russia (yeah...great time to be here). I wonder how much this will affect me. I pay using my UK card and my steam account is still listed as being in the UK. I actually pay higher prices when purchasing games at UK rates. Would I be forced to buy games localized to Russia? My Russian isn't good enough to have to play through everything in Russian.

Once a game is registered in your game library (not your gifts), it's yours. Any game's language will be the one you chose at Steam's settings (Unless that language is unavailable, but English is always available). I don't think that it'll change anything for you.

One thing I'm very concerned about, is if this region locking will be global, such as EU/US region locks.

Some companies like Capcom frequently forget that my country exists(small European country), and just a few months ago, I was forced to trade for copies of Dark Souls, because it was apparently never coming for me.
Similarly I notice that I have dead rising 3 on steam for me, but nothing else in the series, I may NEED to trade for dead rising 2 if I want it.

Does anyone know anything about that?
Or is this region lock JUST for poor countries to the western ones?

I guess I picked a good time to buy Dragon Age: Origins for my friend in the UK as I would have been denied from here on. It makes me sad I can't surprise people with games on Steam anymore. I have quite a few friends in other regions that I do gift games to which I guess I won't be able to now. Hopefully there is some clarification in future.

Covarr:
When people exploit the regional pricing, they are ripping off the developers more than Valve, costing smaller indie companies a lot of money, so I see this as a positive.

Bull fucken shit. If someone is paying for the game via legit channels then they are not ripping the devs off, double so if it's Australian/New Zealands trying to get a fair deal. This is especially true in Steam's case where I'm paying in USD, so their getting the exact same amount of money that someone in the US would pay. It double sucks when paying more in USD so not only am I being ripped off by being charged more but then I have to pay conversion ontop of that, fuck you steam/publishers. They are ripping us off by charging ridicules prices to the point that our government encourages grey importing to force the prices down and it succeeded. The reason JB Hifi was able to get their game prices down to a fair level was that they said to the suppliers "give a decent price or we'll import ourselves". It's the only way to keep the market fair otherwise 1 or 2 suppliers could set whatever price they wanted.
Funny thing is that it's now cheaper to buy at the retailers than steam....

Whatever man, the last thing I bought from steam was BNW expansion for Civilization V.

And considering that prices of blockbusters on Steam cost as much as on consoles, I'd rather buy PS4 in the future (if situation in Ukraine will become better in a few years) and buy good old games for PC from, well, Good Old Games. Oh, and modern PC exclusives that I actually care about? They are also are/will be released on GOG.

Although I wonder if I'll lose all of my Steam collection if this service ever falls?

Captcha: "Way to go!" Thanks, Captcha, you are a doll.

In other news - Australia still getting screwed by insane prices on games. Because yay. Australia.

OT: I get why they do it, but is it really that big of a problem that this happens? Why don't they just allow trading of games for free between different steam accounts, or place a timer on how long must pass before you can gift another game out of your own country, or even make it so that for every X games gifted from a country such as Russia you have to buy Y games on the account being gifted to, to stop people from abusing it.

Literally anything except for a total ban, seems a little bit shite to me.

I live in germany and only have the option of buying the garbage censored version of certain games despite being an adult.
This allowed me to get the actual versions of certain games the was it was intended to be played.
Being exempt from valves blatant "$=€" money grubbery was only a bonus.

But now, if I wanted to buy, say, half life 1 off of steam, I only get to have the version without blood, the robot soldiers and the scientists who sit down and waggle their heads instead of dying and I would be pretty much irreversably stuck with that version on that steam account even though I know someone in south america who could gift it to me?

Steam is a lot less useful to me then as it was the only way besides piracy to get some non-neutered games without paying ridiculous prices for imports.
Or at least the ridiculous prices my local game retailer was asking.
Amazon kinda disagrees there. And so does gog.
Humblebundle keeps growing too so thankfully I am in no way stuck with steam to get games anymore.

shintakie10:
Its cool guys. Valve totally is your benevolent dictators and would never ever do something solely to dick over customers in the name of profit margins!

Now that that is out of my system, that is pretty jacked. It'd be one thing if they never allowed it in the first place, but its been allowed for so long that at this point most people assumed that's what you were supposed to do in the first place. Its totally within Valves right to do so, but its never not goin to be a dick move.

Lure the customers in first, then when they are too invested to switch....fuck em over.

Personally I dont buy much games on steam anymore, if any. Either I buy at some other online retailer and register it on steam afterwards, or preferably on gog.com

Hey guys don't forget about GOG and there willingness to give support to consumers.

I know a few ppl who are going to be mad at this.

shintakie10:
Its cool guys. Valve totally is your benevolent dictators and would never ever do something solely to dick over customers in the name of profit margins!

People were buying the same product in a cheaper region and gifting it to themselves. If you've ever used any product like "Hidemyass" then you'd know changing your region is remarkably simple through the wonders of proxy servers.

Valve already provides the best game deals there are. This wasn't dicking over customers. This was closing an exploit. The alternative was to not allow crippled economies to buy the games at a price they can afford. Hmm... which would we want more? Russians to be able to play games themselves or for Americans to be able to plunder the exploit?

This move will only encourage the few people who bothered with out-of-region gifting and trading to turn to piracy. Valve should have just ignored it.

Bunch of bonehead moves from those guys recently.

Yes, good guy Valve. Don't worry guys, they are doing it for our own good. Oh look, Nintendo! How dare they region lock their products?!?

The hypocrisy in some of this posts is astonishing. Time to move onto Origin. They even had better sales recently.

BiH-Kira:
Yes, good guy Valve. Don't worry guys, they are doing it for our own good. Oh look, Nintendo! How dare they region lock their products?!?

The hypocrisy in some of this posts is astonishing. Time to move onto Origin. They even had better sales recently.

*sigh* Valve isn't region locking games. They are preventing an underground market in which games can be purchased more cheaply in regions with crippled economies and then gifted to regions that can afford to buy them.

Why are people not understanding this? It's an exploit being closed.

Lightknight:

BiH-Kira:
Yes, good guy Valve. Don't worry guys, they are doing it for our own good. Oh look, Nintendo! How dare they region lock their products?!?

The hypocrisy in some of this posts is astonishing. Time to move onto Origin. They even had better sales recently.

*sigh* Valve isn't region locking games. They are preventing an underground market in which games can be purchased more cheaply in regions with crippled economies and then gifted to regions that can afford to buy them.

Why are people not understanding this? It's an exploit being closed.

You mean the same markets that have been helping tons of people to get games they otherwise wouldn't get because they live in a country with a crippled economy but Valve is selling them games at a price higer than in Germany or the rest of west Europe?
The market that allows people to get games which they otherwise couldn't because Valve decided to not sell those games in their region?

This isn't any different than what Nintendo does. Buy a game in Russia, can't activate it in Europe. Buy a game in Japan, can't play it on a US 3DS.

This is what will happen thanks to Valve. People who managed to buy games and support devs through those "black markets" will stop buying and start pirating. People who supported devs and bought games that Valve refused to sell in their region will stop buying games and start pirating.
Geeee.... thanks Volvo.

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