Thursday, July 30th 2020

Steam Updates Pricing Restrictions to Combat VPN-based Exploitation of Regional Pricing

Steam has updated their purchase and pricing restriction in wake of continued abuse from users exploiting regional price-differences via VPN. You may have read about this recently following the availability of PS4-exclusive Horizon: Zero Dawn on the PC platform, with the release being priced differently by the publisher according to the purchase region of its respective users. However, one way users found to circumvent these restrictions and purchase games at a lower price was to use a VPN service and appear as if they were connecting from one of the lower-priced regions. This prompted a price-hike for Horizon: Zero Dawn in those exploited regions - sometimes by as much as 389%. Such was the case for Argentina, where the game, which was originally being sold for ARS$539,99 ($7,47) got its price hiked to ARS$2100 ($29,06). The game was being sold in US-based stores for $39.

Now, Steam is forcing currencies used on the purchase to match those of the country where the purchase is (apparently) being made. This means you can't pay in dollars a game that is priced in Argentinian pesos or any other currency. This move by Steam aims to keep pricing fair according to users' and countries' purchasing power, and aims to protect users with lower purchasing power from price-hikes derived from the exploitation of regional pricing. An Argentinian user, where the country's minimum wage is set at $233,55, now is protected from users with higher purchasing power being responsible for game price hikes that mean it costs them 10% of their minimum wage to get a single game from the Steam store. You can replace Argentina with any other country that saw its regional pricing being abused via VPN-hidden users who wanted to take advantage of the price difference. I can hear some Game of Thrones bells ringing in the distance.
Sources: KitGuru, Guru3D
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62 Comments on Steam Updates Pricing Restrictions to Combat VPN-based Exploitation of Regional Pricing

#1
Silvio Cassiano
The information is insufficient. This text seems more like an excuse. There is no data crunch or statistics for comparison. As an example, put Brazil with abusive prices and a minimum wage lower than this article.
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#2
windwhirl
All I get from this article is that my country's currency is a joke :laugh:
Silvio Cassiano
The information is insufficient. This text seems more like an excuse. There is no data crunch or statistics for comparison. As an example, put Brazil with abusive prices and a minimum wage lower than this article.
If what you're complaining about is Valve not showing you data or stats about how many games were bought that way and the potential loss of revenue/income due to this, I remind you that Valve is a fully private company, they don't have to share crap. And besides, this thing of users using VPNs to buy games through other regions' markets has happened before, IIRC, with the Russian market.

If nothing else, the minimum wage cited here is technically correct, since it's set at AR$ 16875 right now, or 233.56 US dollars [EDIT: This is a monthly amount, not weekly) at the official exchange rate. Heck, it might be lower if you consider a different exchange rate (like the black market's, which is nearly double the official one) or the real-life official exchange rate that includes a 30% tax on foreign currency...

EDIT: The Steam Store in Argentina only accepts VISA or MasterCard credit cards, so you can't use anything else, unless you have funds in your Steam Wallet... I'm not sure if whatever funds you had before are converted to your new country's currency or not, but I imagine it is not the case.
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#3
londiste
Buying with VPN has never been OK and IIRC is forbidden in terms already. They are just raising some additional technical hurdles.
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#4
raptori
So with Steam "aims to protect users with lower purchasing power from price-hikes ", are they going to set Horizon: Zero Dawn back to its Original price ARS$539,99 ($7,47) ?
Posted on Reply
#5
windwhirl
raptori
So with Steam "aims to protect users with lower purchasing power from price-hikes ", are they going to set Horizon: Zero Dawn back to its Original price ARS$539,99 ($7,47) ?
That's not Steam's decision. The game developer decided to rise the price because somehow they found out that people did this kind of thing.

My guess is that at this point it is unlikely. Maybe they will cut back a bit, but not much more.
Posted on Reply
#6
Razrback16
Games should be the same equivalent price in all regions. That kind of annoys me that it's so much cheaper in other areas.
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#7
windwhirl
Razrback16
Games should be the same equivalent price in all regions. That kind of annoys me that it's so much cheaper in other areas.
Already discussed this some time ago in another thread.

The game publishers decide regional prices according to the buying power of each region. It's not just a matter of revenue, but also of presence.
Posted on Reply
#8
Assimilator
exPOITation

Imagine if spell checks were a thing oh wait.
Posted on Reply
#9
IamEzio
After they rolled the "pricing per region" and support for different currencies I try to buy as little as possible directly from the steam store.
pricing is so inconsistent . 60$ is about 205NIS, but on steam you can find $60 games that range from 210NIS which is totally OK, up to 270NIS where its almost 80$, and even 320NIS which is $90 (death stranding for example).
I mostly play AAA Single player titles on release, and its mostly from greenmangaming.com or other sites, just because of that.
steam blames the high prices on the publishers as "they are the ones that decide the pricing for that specific region", but that's just BS because they benefit from every cent, 30% cut from $90 is higher than $60.. and its like that for a "while" now.
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#10
Berfs1
damn i didnt even know about this
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#11
ZoneDymo
Razrback16
Games should be the same equivalent price in all regions. That kind of annoys me that it's so much cheaper in other areas.
yeah crazy a country where people make a 10th of what you make for the same work would also have their games etc be cheaper....
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#12
DuxCro
DAmn. Wish i knew Horizon ZD was $7 in Argentina. Paid 50 Euros for it. Digital games should be considerably cheaper than physical. It's not like they're spending money on making copies and actual distribution to stores. And yet, they're discussing should next gen games be $70. When publishers have never been making more money. I am going to exploit everything i can to give them as little money as possible. Minus the piracy ofc.
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#13
Cobalt47
Minimum wage in Australia is currently $AUD 753 a week. The average Triple A Steam game costs $AUD 90, or ~12% of the minimum wage. Will they get all up in arms about this? Or will people here be told to suck it up and save for a few weeks if they really want the game?
Posted on Reply
#14
windwhirl
Cobalt47
Minimum wage in Australia is currently $AUD 753 a week. The average Triple A Steam game costs $AUD 90, or ~12% of the minimum wage. Will they get all up in arms about this? Or will people here be told to suck it up and save for a few weeks if they really want the game?
Man, the minimum wage in Argentina is 233 USD a month, or 58 USD a week...
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#15
Julhes
Illegal downloads will increase now.
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#16
Metroid
That is bad for Argentinians, now just because people of other countries cheated, Argentinias will have to pay 4 times more what they used to pay? call it unfair, in argentina people does not earn as much money as in the USA or Europe, only rich people in Argentina will be able to play the game now.
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#17
ebivan
Well, surprise. Even high income countries have some low income citizens. I come from a high income county in europe but i life on less than 300€ a month.
Well, if vpn is not an option and the 'fair' pricing is bound to average regional income rather than personal circumstances, well there are still other means of getting games...
Btw Horizon Zero Dawn will release without DRM...
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#18
TheUn4seen
ZoneDymo
yeah crazy a country where people make a 10th of what you make for the same work would also have their games etc be cheaper....
This might not be a popular opinion, but I was born in such a country and, well, people who spent their time playing games still remain there, in poorly maintained blocks of flats. People with more reasonable priorities can now play games on their 3080Tis in their homes located in properly managed countries. Just sayin', maybe games aren't the most pressing life priority in such places. They are essentially a luxury good.
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#19
Fluffmeister
I'm surprised it's taken this long to close this loop hole, I've got a number of the latest AAA titles via various sellers on eBay over the years who clearly buy the game cheap in another region and earn themselves a profit on top.
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#20
Imouto
Razrback16
Games should be the same equivalent price in all regions. That kind of annoys me that it's so much cheaper in other areas.
Taking in mind that every game has a budget and is expected to return a profit I'd say that if what you propose turned real games would be cheaper for rich countries and not affordable for poor ones because they still need to generate the same revenue. That would make the prices to bounce back because no one would be buying them in poorer countries and you'd end up with a price tag higher than the current one now. If you think that it would adjust to the lowest common denominator you are delusional.

Then again, they are that cheap in poor countries and players still make a greater effort to buy them than you.
Posted on Reply
#21
Adam Krazispeed
DuxCro
DAmn. Wish i knew Horizon ZD was $7 in Argentina. Paid 50 Euros for it. Digital games should be considerably cheaper than physical. It's not like they're spending money on making copies and actual distribution to stores. And yet, they're discussing should next gen games be $70. When publishers have never been making more money. I am going to exploit everything i can to give them as little money as possible. Minus the piracy ofc.
honestly, id rather pirate games again..... cuz most new games suck.... $120 for games like, The division/division 2, but cant be pirated because of being on a server/ or "Live Service" Games ... and the crew, which i didn't want to buy in the first place do to Ubisofts MASSIVELY DOWNGRADING EVERY GAME THEY RELEASE, FUcK them im done with ubisoft


so yeah, game should be way way cheaper like 29.99 do to having PAID ADDON Content months to every year after OG Release of the games??? wtf!!! not paying 120 or more for max editions cuz the WONY Expansion was another 30 fucking bucks, that didn't really add a whole lot to the division 2 and raids are useless to me, Not a 8 player/4 player group match making gamer

also the fact that the First "The Division" Was a"MASSIVE" Disappointment, LOL that was a sarcastic crack at Massive Entertainment" them and UBISOFT ALWAYS DOWNGRADING PC VERSIONS OF GAMES THAT WOLD HAVE NO ISSUES RUNNING THE OG e3 2013 Demo of the Division, which is what made me want the game so fucking BAD in the first place, RELEASE VERSION WAS NOT WORTH $60USD let alone $120 fukking bucks,, IM DONE!! with UBISOFT
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#22
Caring1
Cobalt47
Minimum wage in Australia is currently $AUD 753 a week. The average Triple A Steam game costs $AUD 90, or ~12% of the minimum wage. Will they get all up in arms about this? Or will people here be told to suck it up and save for a few weeks if they really want the game?
Suck it up, Games aren't an essential item, they are a luxury people with excess income buy.
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#23
hat
Enthusiast
This is a good move. The developers need to eat too, and they can't sell these games that take huge budgets to produce for $10 a pop to everyone. I think those of us who are upset that it's become harder to abuse VPNs to get cheap games need to put on our big boy pants and count our blessings...
Posted on Reply
#24
altcapwn
Assimilator
exPOITation

Imagine if spell checks were a thing oh wait.
You know you can report a typo without being a dick about it.

@Raevenlord you have typo in your title.
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#25
Th3pwn3r
Razrback16
Games should be the same equivalent price in all regions. That kind of annoys me that it's so much cheaper in other areas.
I agree 100%. If people can't afford to pay the price in some regions then those people shouldn't spend money on games in my opinion.
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