Steam Is Region-Locking PC Games

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Queenslander

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Isn't everything on Steam converted from USD anyway? So if I buy a $30USD game for 120,000 Rubles, or whatever, and sell it to my mate in Australia where the game is $45AUD, aren't Steam still getting the equivalent of $30USD? I'm confused...
 

OTrigorin

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Isn't everything on Steam converted from USD anyway? So if I buy a $30USD game for 120,000 Rubles, or whatever, and sell it to my mate in Australia where the game is $45AUD, aren't Steam still getting the equivalent of $30USD? I'm confused...
Sort of. Say that $30USD game is 120,000 RUS. You buy it for that from a Russian Steam Account. But now that 120,000 RUS is actually only $20USD because the price of the Ruble has fallen off a cliff. So you take that $20 game and sell it to your friend in the US for, say, $25USD. You make the equivalent of $5 profit, your friend pays $5 less for the game, and Steam loses $10.

Multiply over thousands of users, and it could be a problem.
 

alidan

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russia versions are usually far FAR cheaper, and if they don't do a good job localizing it and removing the english parts a 60$ game here could be enjoyed for 5$ if you know how to shop russia.
 

iam2thecrowe

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Isn't everything on Steam converted from USD anyway? So if I buy a $30USD game for 120,000 Rubles, or whatever, and sell it to my mate in Australia where the game is $45AUD, aren't Steam still getting the equivalent of $30USD? I'm confused...
you would think so. But no, games are more expensive here if you bounce of the Australia steam server compared to say, the India server even factoring in exchange rates. I don't take part in this, but people use this to an advantage to get cheaper games by having steam accounts through other regions. Which is BS as far as i'm concerned. Should be the same price everywhere scalable with exchange rates.
 

No they don't. Or at least they don't lose money if they're doing it right.

Companies operate in other countries and have to exchange currency all the time, so are always vulnerable to currency fluctuations. The way this is usually countered is by striking a 1-year (or sometimes multi-year) contract with a currency exchange service to convert Rubles to USD at a fixed rate. Done properly, this (1) insulates Steam from fluctuations in the RUB vs USD rate, and (2) makes the exchange service some money since they pick an exchange rate favorable to them for taking on the risk of currency fluctuations.

So given your numbers, the way this is set up is Steam sets the price of a USD$30 game at 120,000 RUB. The currency exchange service bets the RUB won't drop more than 10%, so offers to pay Steam $27 per 120,000 RUB. Essentially they're providing Steam insurance against a drop in the RUB, and charging a 10% premium for it.

If the RUB doesn't drop, then the exchange service wins and pockets the 10%. If the RUB drops, then the exchange service ends up making less money or losing money. This arrangement basically shifts the risk of financial loss from Steam to the exchange service (who stands to make a 10% premium).

Next year when Steam re-negotiates with the currency exchange service, the new lower value of the RUB and its greater risk of decline gets taken into account. And the $30 game goes up in price in Russia to 180,000 RUB. During all this, Steam never loses any money.

At least that's the way the smart companies do it. And they don't just do it with currency too. When oil prices skyrocketed around 2008, Southwest airlines was minimally impacted because they'd struck a deal with an oil supplier for a fixed price. All the other airlines were bleeding money from the high fuel prices, but Southwest was still paying 2006 prices (its supplier was losing money because its contract basically forced them to sell fuel to Southwest at below-market prices). If there's anything which could wreak havoc with your company's finances if the price changes drastically, smart companies figure out a way to offset that risk. Stability and predictability is more important than bigger profits.

So there's really no internal rationale for Steam to be region-locking the game if they were smart about currency exchange. The only reason I can think of is that the currency exchange service demanded a clause in the contract stipulating that they will only exchange up to a certain number of dollars for the year. Put a cap on their potential losses basically. The RUB going down may cause sales to shift into Russia from elsewhere in the world, causing the amount of money exchanged to rise enough to trigger that clause. If that happened, Steam would be forced to shut down sales in Russia. So they may be using region locking to avoid that, and allowing them to continue selling games to Russians.
 

nodeffect

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I don't know why so many down votes when what they said is true. Russia steam website does have cheaper games. Some people use VPN to buy games tru russian site because it's cheaper.
 

Alec Mowat

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Region locked from the Russian currency?
No.

It's region locked because of the huge amount of scams coming out of Russia, making fake trades and stealing account information. This should prevent more of the scams online (Although any Russian with a VPN can get around it).
 

amk-aka-Phantom

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This is annoying because Steam doesn't offer an option of purchasing higher-cost non-locked games to its Russian customers. A few of my friends in Russia now abandoned Steam for GoG because they don't want to play games in Russian. What's even worse is how some games are region-locked so you can't even *play* them outside of certain region even if you own them already, like Tomb Raider. I strongly recommend all Steam users to check steamdb.info (wonderful site) for precise information on each package's (you can get any package's ID by mousing over its "Add to Cart" link on Steam) region locks.

I live in India and travel a lot and while most of my games are not locked, some devs are starting to treat India exactly the same way as Russia, providing cheaper versions of their games that can't be gifted cross-region or played outside of India. I *hate* this. I have friends all over the world I like to gift games to for their birthdays or big holidays like New Year, or just because I want them to try a game I like, but Steam is slowly destroying what it originally stood for - uniting gamers from all over the world - just because it refuses to provide a way for those of us who want to be above these petty borders to gift and trade games even if we have to pay a little more. WHY?! I'm a paying customer, I'm not participating in any scams, all I want is my games available to me anywhere I travel and a possibility to gift and receive gifts regardless of region. Is that really so hard? Why is Steam trying to emulate a brick-and-mortar store with "localized" goods?
 

chenw

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Price locking regions I can understand, undesireable, but I can understand.

Region locking games is going back to the console ages, if I bought the games for myself, why can't I play it anywhere I like? Gifting? People are not going to own several steam accounts just to avail of cheap games outside of their region, especially if they own a steam account already.

I am already pee'ed off at SE region locking their games in ASIA, I can take gifting restrictions, playing restrictions crosses the line
 

swisscheez

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"The company said that gifts purchased and placed in the buyer's inventory will be untradeable for 30 days. However, customers can send gifts at any time."

I believe that means you can purchase a game primarily as a gift at checkout, but you cannot buy a game, play it, and then turn it into a gift. This still allows you to send a game as a gift immediately upon purchase.
 

antemon

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i wonder how this would affect me.

i initially made my account in asia, where i'm from, but now living and working in the middle east.

this didn't really bother me much before since the only game i liked that i didn't get to play on steam was ragnarok online, and i couldn't play it in the middle east either due to strict laws here, some monsters and players are litteraly almost naked or i the country where i'm from has their own ragnarok online servers

besides, there are tons of private servers to scratch my itch

but what about other games?
is this gonna be exclusively due to the russian ecoonomy?
 

Achoo22

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You make the equivalent of $5 profit, your friend pays $5 less for the game, and Steam loses $10. Multiply over thousands of users, and it could be a problem.
It's absurd to frame it as Steam losing $10. If Steam sets ten different prices for the same item and everyone buys the item at the cheapest price, there's no reasonable way to interpret the phenomenon as Steam losing money.

The next step will be enacting ways to prevent third parties from buying up games on sale at deep discount with the intent of resale for profit. I'm sure there will be sycophants that insist my buying a $50 game on sale for $5 and reselling it for $10 has cost Steam $45, but removing arbitrage is a sure sign of a monopoly and it isn't good for anyone but Steam.
 

tomfreak

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Isn't everything on Steam converted from USD anyway? So if I buy a $30USD game for 120,000 Rubles, or whatever, and sell it to my mate in Australia where the game is $45AUD, aren't Steam still getting the equivalent of $30USD? I'm confused...
nope(if u are them), because Gaben+Developer clan will able to sell $45 to those Aussy. Why would Gaben+Developer clan let u profit $15 when his clan can take that $15 themselves?

If u are in their shoe, this move just make business sense

If u complain that why ur region is $45 while the russian is $30. Simple stop buying games at $45. If there is enough people in ur region dont buy games at $45. Gaben clan will adjust the price themselves.

Always vote with ur wallet. Cheers.
 

Steveymoo

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So, what are the regions? I will be travelling between NA and England at least a couple times a year, will all my games be region locked? :-/
 

StarBound

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It took Sony nearly 12 years to move away from region locking with the release of the PS3. PC games has always been region free. Whatever Valves intentions behind this a game on PC must NEVER be region locked. We cannot fall into that trap. The only thing I would agree on would be the legal aspect of a country denying a game but even there I have been denied buying a game on PC that was available on PS3.
 
G

Guest

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I think it's BS to sell digital content at different prices according to different regions. Real goods have things like shipping, cost of storage, etc. But digital content? It's not like it costs more to upload a file to america than europe.

If they charged them the same price they charge us, they wouldn't sell as much. So they sell it to them for less. Which is a big f-you to us.

I don't like Steam anyway. There prices change too much, if you aren't buying a game with a heavy discount you feel ripped off when you see it on sale the next week. Only games I get on steam are those I get with Humble-Bundle.
 

eriko

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Steam - I've been a good customer of yours, and am also a frequent traveller.

The very first time a game doesn't load / install, is the day you turn me into a games pirate.

I absolutely mean this.
 

neiroatopelcc

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Instead of being stupid, they should just use the same pricing regardles of region. There's no reason not to, and several of their competitors already have a unified experience regardles of your ip address' origin.
In a way it's immoral to treat people different from others just because they live in a different place.
 

KrisPC

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I live in a small country named Estonia that has been independent now for over 20 years and is part of EU. My game collection is not that big but on 2 occasions (Saints Row 4 and Borderlands 2 DLC's) I have seen the following notice: "Purchases made in Russia and CIS countries will only be playable in Russia and CIS countries."

What the heck? Estonia is not part of Russia nor CIS (and I'd say it's rather insulting for us to read something like that because we were occupied by Soviet Union for almost 50 years) and I know this isn't only the problem for Estonian Steam users. Thing is we have to pay the same price that everybody else in EU yet get those restrictions. Granted this may not be Steam's fault rather than game distributors who set those restrictions. However should I ever see anything like that again I am seriously considering writing a complaint to some EU institution that handles things like that.
 
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