Steam Allows Publishers To Disable Cross-Region Gifting

By Nathan Grayson on December 23rd, 2013 at 9:00 am.

Doing all your Christmas shopping for your distant desert-island-stranded relatives who you’ve not heard from in over a decade on Steam? Well, relish the convenience while you can, because Valve’s added an option for developers and publishers to disallow cross-region gifting and trading. In addition to the obvious ramifications, this may pull the rug out from people who use those features to get around arbitrarily raised regional pricing and/or censorship. In the words of a handless person who’s just come across the world’s most pettable kitty, “bummer.”

The new option was first discovered in the database of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance (via NeoGAF). The new tag, “AllowCrossRegionTradingAndGifting,” is set to “No” for Konami’s cyborg ninja absolutely-positively-not-stealth game.

Before you panic, note that it only applies to Eastern Europe and South America at the moment. Prices are sometimes lower in those regions, so it may not be time to sound the alarms just yet. That said, the functionality could easily expand over time. Also of note: it apparently doesn’t apply to retail keys.

I’ve mailed Valve with questions about the new limitations, and I’ll pen some form of update as soon as I hear back.

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159 Comments »

  1. Lemming says:

    Sucks for the bargain hunting customer, but it should be at the publisher’s discretion, no matter how misguided.

    • Premium User Badge

      mjrmua says:

      Disagree.
      My location shouldn’t be available to the publisher at all.

      Is there any way to opt out of steam’s location tracking?

      • johnkillzyou says:

        Your location is not given to the publisher. Your location is kept within Steam. You can not turn off location tracking, its the internet. You can try a proxy, but that is against the terms of service. RPS could probably track your location, as could pretty much any other website.

      • Premium User Badge

        Zak T Duck says:

        Short of not using Steam, probably not.

      • yazman says:

        Sadly, no. GOG allows you to get out of it though, so it’s pretty shitty that Valve is cracking down. This just encourages piracy.

        • paddymaxson says:

          I doubt valve is cracking down, they are likely being told that they either have this feature or certain games don’t get on steam.

          • space_ghost says:

            “Wont sell on Steam” is a huge risk to take, regardless of publisher.

          • DatonKallandor says:

            You act like Steam is the submissive in that relationship. If a Publisher says “we won’t sell our game on steam unless you do X”, Valve simply has to say “ok, but the other publishers will”. Steams Customer Reach is enormous – far too enormous for them to get blackmailed by publishers. This is Valve’s doing.

      • Hahaha says:

        Holy fuck that is retarded

        “I’ve mailed Valve with questions about the new limitations, and I’ll pen some form of update as soon as I hear back.”

        Yeah go nathan you get to the bottom of this crazy move girl…….

      • programmdude says:

        Steam needs your information for you to be able to buy games. They need it to process your credit card, the need your billing address. Similar thing for paypal I think.

    • Lone Gunman says:

      Globalization for big business but not for people.

      • Eagle32 says:

        That is the reason regional pricing annoys me so much. Companies will happily outsource their support centers to where ever they can get the cheapest labour and they relocate their offices all around the world to minimize the taxes they pay.

        Yet if we try and get a better price by purchasing from elsewhere in the world they say fuck off.

        • Premium User Badge

          frymaster says:

          The thing is, if you have a global price, it will basically be at US/Western Europe prices. Which puts it beyond the reach of most of the world. Why can’t publishers have the option of selling their games at a sane price in those markets without compromising their profit in Europe?

          • Tatourmi says:

            I disagree. Precisely because global prices set on european/american prices won’t be affordable to most of the world they won’t be set to these prices. People need to live. Nobody would put the prices that high to, for example, hungaria. What logic would it follow? You can’t simply kill a country with the power of economy.

  2. Perkelnik says:

    What a great gift from Valve!
    To the publishers.

    • Lemming says:

      As bad as it seems, it won’t last. Publishers/developers on Steam get metrics supplied by Valve showing them exactly where they are making sales, and where they aren’t, and what they can do to improve. Giving the power to publishers to dictate regional-pricing takes it out of Valve’s hands, but you can bet once these companies see they are taking a sales hit, they’ll start to fall in line with a more global-friendly strategy without them having to complain that Valve/Steam ‘forced’ them to do it.

      • WaRxXxPiG says:

        I think you’re on to something there…. If I was getting stuff at a decent or at least comparable price to everyone else on the planet then all of a sudden was having to a pay ridiculously inflated mark up, I might just be pushed to seek my games elsewhere. Somewhere else that only benefits me.

      • TechnicalBen says:

        Your suggesting they have the ability to listen… or think… or change. (As a group, individually they can be special and great, but as a commercial group sadly they become a mess)

  3. Meusli says:

    And who is the first company to use this fabulous new feature, why its Konami! Jim Sterling will be pleased.

  4. Premium User Badge

    melnificent says:

    So now it’s check the database and then order from Nuuvem :)

    • Viroso says:

      I hope nobody ever catches up on all the foreign people ordering from Nuuvem, or if they do catch up on it, I hope they do nothing about it. I can buy from Nuuvem fine because I’m from Brazil, however a bunch of people from abroad ordering from it could get publishers to charge their standard prices again, thus ruining it.

      Same could apply to Steam, Origin. People getting stuff cross region can ruin the nicer prices people in areas with lower buying power can enjoy thanks to region restrictions on digital distribution. If you ever thought games were expensive and you live in US/Europe, imagine how it’d be if they were all twice the price. That’s how it used to be, but since digital retailers started doing region restrictions the prices have lowered (a bit).

      There are upsides and downsides to that, for me the upsides are better. So, go ahead Steam.

      • Premium User Badge

        melnificent says:

        But cross border trading is legal. I buy goods from around the world without issue… for example the oculus rift is ordered from the US, made in China, Shipped to the UK.

        I know that the regional restrictions are coming to nuuvem, SRIV was apparently restricted to Brasil. If and when it does happen on a regular basis I will find another store, or more likely just stop with AAA outside of steam sales.

        Like most things that involve money it is the large companies and governments that are throwing FUD at savy consumers that look out for a good deal. We are not your enemy, we just want to buy things at a fair price. If a publisher wants to overcharge in one region to another then that is their right. Just as it is mine to use the freetrade agreements between our countries to get a fair deal.

        Also as long as the transaction is under £135 there is no import duty to pay either. Meaning if the difference was 20% higher in the UK then the difference would merely be VAT. But when the difference is usually 50-80% it is clear that it is price gouging of potential customers.

        • Viroso says:

          Doesn’t have to do with being legal or illegal, it has to do with publishers adjusting prices to fit the market. South America and Eastern Europe have a lot of gamers but also lower buying power than North America and Western Europe.

          They can only adjust their prices because of region restrictions. I’m talking about digital distribution here btw. You are looking to buy things at a cheaper price, like everybody else. It doesn’t have to do with fair or unfair. The fact that people pay less on Nuuvem isn’t unfair to you, though it may seem like it is.

          Digital prices don’t have to do with product in stock, manufacturing, shipping, distribution. It has to do, most of all, with how much people are willing to pay. In US and Europe people have been willing to pay 60 dollars for a game for a long time, but in other markets that isn’t always the case.

          I wouldn’t call it overcharging you. Also wouldn’t say this has to do with free trade agreements at all. They’re selling the same product across multiple regions, setting prices for each region. You being gifted by people from Eastern Europe or using TOR or a VPN or whatever to buy stuff from Nuuvem, these things have nothing to do with free trade agreements. Import duties don’t come into this as well, we’re talking about Steam here, digital products.

          • Premium User Badge

            melnificent says:

            Actually, I just use the Nuuvem website directly, no need to TOR or VPN…. otherwise that would then be in a more dubious area of the law in most countries.

            I agree that the prices are a reflection of the local economy and buying power. But it has everything to do with it being legal or not.

            If I buy a something from a website that is in another country and they are happy to ship to my country then we do business. The method of delivery whether download or physical goods is irrelevant. Due to FREEtrade laws we can do this and it is legal. In fact the law in most countries protect this type of trading. As long as any tax due is paid to the respective governments then everyone is happy. Everyone wins.

            If publishers can lower prices in one market but not another and I have legal means to get those same goods at a lower price, then there is nothing they can do to stop it. By imposing this restriction they are trying to fix the price on a per continent/country basis. This would be price fixing. It’s a big no-no.

            Furthermore the eastern european customers have EU regulations to protect them, this flag is illegal under the latest rulings from the EU. There is the “first-download” doctrine, which means that once you have sold goods digitally you cannot dictate if they can be sold on or not. This flag purposely flouts that legal requirement for EU citizens

          • Viroso says:

            Imposing region restrictions isn’t fixing prices. They can price stuff however they want. Also, it doesn’t have to do with it being legal, it only has to do with what the publishers want to do. Price fixing has nothing to do with a publisher setting different prices for different regions.

            Do they want to release a game only in Japan? They can, there’s nothing wrong with that. Do they want to restrict players? They can too. They don’t have the obligation to release something in every region, they don’t have the obligation to release it at the same price in every region.

            Lastly, that EU regulation also doesn’t apply to this.

            I think you’re just confused about this and bringing things that don’t apply or misusing some terms here.

            They can choose whatever prices they want, sell their products wherever they want. This is strictly related to how they want to conduct their business, it has nothing to do with free trade agreements, fixing prices, etc. And if they want, they can stop releasing games at lower prices in certain regions because people from everywhere in the world are taking advantage of that.

          • Sharlie Shaplin says:

            “Imposing region restrictions isn’t fixing prices.”

            But that’s the only real reason the publishers want to keep their control of region pricing, protecting their profits. They want all the benefits of free markets, but they don’t want us to have the same.

          • Premium User Badge

            melnificent says:

            “Imposing region restrictions isn’t fixing prices.” – Unless it’s used to control the price of your product in different regions…. like this.

            “They can price stuff however they want. ” – Nope, they can SUGGEST the price but they cannot say it must be sold for X amount. They generally charge as close to the price they want retailers to sell at as possible.

            “Also, it doesn’t have to do with it being legal,” – It has everything to do with it being legal. If I buy a game then I am entitled to sell it on as I see fit. In the case of purchasing on steam if I buy it as a gift option then I am legally allowed to give/sell it to who I want under first sale doctrine (downloads also fall under this in the EU at least). So if steam lets me purchase a game as a gift then I am legally allowed to do as I choose with it, sell it, trade it, delete it.

        • programmdude says:

          It’s understandable to lower prices for developing markets, since its better to make some money from them then no money and they pirate it all. It’s also understandable to restrict it so only those developing markets can buy them.
          What isn’t understandable is why big publishers feel like they should charge more to Europe and Oceania. Not just Price+Taxes, but somewhere along the lines of 1.5-2x the price. It costs the publisher nothing extra, the markets aren’t richer, they are pretty similar to the US, they have no reason to other then being greedy bastards.

  5. Turkey says:

    So I can’t gift games to my catholic friends? That’s bullshit, Valve!

  6. satan says:

    I think I speak for all of New Zealand and Australia when I say… bugger.

    • ZeDestructor says:

      That’s putting it lightly..

      I think I speak for all when I say someone needs to be sent a few boxfuls of Redbacks…

      I guess I’ll be using remote desktop (to home!) a lot more for my Steam purchases from now on…. Maybe I should buy a raspberry pi…..

      • Shadram says:

        Us Kiwis could send a box full of wetas, I suppose. Not the same level of threat, but they are bloody scary if you’ve never seen one before, especially the big ones.

        If they stop us being able to use overseas suppliers of game download codes, it will almost certainly mean the end of me buying games from big publishers. They can stuff their US$90 prices up their arse.

        • programmdude says:

          From reading the article, it isn’t a problem for us. Yet.
          We can still buy games at US prices and redeem them on steam, or get US friends to just gift it to use. It’s only developing markets like south africa, india and russia. But its only a small step to full region lockdown.

    • Dozer says:

      I live in Tasmania. This bodes poorly for my friends in remote and impoverished islands, like Britain.

  7. almostDead says:

    Will this end the buisiness model of places like Green Man Gaming.

    I thought that’s what they did. Buy from one cheap area and sell on.

    • Artist says:

      Does definatly not apply to them! Borders usually dont bug companies anyway.

    • ZeDestructor says:

      They buy direct from publishers/devs, and for us in ANZ, there’s a valid-for-20 years voucher that equalizes prices…

      • Premium User Badge

        Thermal Ions says:

        That voucher is only for 2K Games, and as I’ve found only valid for games not on special.

  8. Insidious Rex says:

    Remember: only corporations are allowed to benefit from globalisation, screw consumers.

    • Emeraude says:

      That’s the thing that gets me: corporations claim to love free markets, but what this means is that they love it when they are left free to do as they want. The rest of the market should be tightly regulated, of course.

      They can offload their expenses to other countries to avoid taxes* and abuse disparities in wealth repartition – at great cost for the social body, but god forbid the common people tries to do the same ! It’s bad for companies you know.

      *: an amusing fact I could recently witness: when poor people-to-middle class people are caught for tax evasion (or sometimes even a honest mistake), they get fees added to their taxes. When very rich people or corporations are caught, they get to negotiate how much of what they owe they’re going to pay.
      That is, when they’re not legally not paying any taxes by abusing frontiers the way they try to prevent their customers from doing.

      On the Steam front: it kinda kills me that Valve can get away with mostly everything bad it does by saying they’re leaving things optional at the discretion of the publisher.
      Didn’t get Microsoft a free pass on the xbone.

      • ChrisMidget says:

        Tax evasion and tax avoidance are 2 different things, the first is illegal the second is exploring loopholes and is just frowned upon but entirely legal until the loophole is closed.

        • Emeraude says:

          I know, that’s why I separated the note in two sentences, the first for tax evasion, the second for tax avoidance – I did mention it was legal in that case, though I did not use the explicit term, I’ll grant you that.

      • LionsPhil says:

        Microsoft’s stint as the Evil Empire in the ’90s means they don’t get many free passes at all.

        Of course, they also have pulled things like GFWL in recent memory. They could really do with taking a scalpel to some of their more suicidal departments.

        • Emeraude says:

          I don’t know, personally, when I look at Valve, I think the apple didn’t fall far from the tree (no side-commentary pun intended).

          • DrManhatten says:

            You got that right, Valve just plays innocent and say oh we are so pro-gamer but in reality they just after your bucks as anybody else.

      • Asurmen says:

        That’s usually because the poor to middle class are usually only paying income tax and NI, and even then fees will only apply to Self Assessment. Underpayment of tax through informal arrangements doesn’t come with any additional fees and more often than not, this underpayment is accurate and hard to challenge or even avoid paying as it’s entirely automatic. The rich and corporations however are usually paying NI, income tax, corporation tax and VAT, of which the last two are far more complex than the first two. I think it’s a case of negotiating to collect some or agree how much they owe is better than spending a small fortune dragging the claims through the courts and having them reduce the tax charge more than if you had negotiated.

        The problem I have is lack of transparency by the government and lack of tax understanding by the general public makes everyone involved into villains.

        • Emeraude says:

          I think it’s a case of negotiating to collect some or agree how much they owe is better than spending a small fortune dragging the claims through the courts and having them reduce the tax charge more than if you had negotiated.

          Oh it is exactly that.

          Still left me with a lingering malaise at the whole situation, the total discrepancy of bargaining power, especially when comparing the respective crimes.

          I think one of the most striking feature we’ll come to remember of current forms of class warfare is how much power the upper classes gained by becoming self-aware and consciously being able to apply tools developed by social sciences to further their goals, while the working classes became even more a spectrum of muddled conflicting agendas and interests – the rise of a strange part of working classes that are technically doing white collar work and still symbolically linking its interests with that of the upper classes while actually being part of the lower to middle ones being the greatest culprit here I find.

    • DickSocrates says:

      Capitalism only works for businesses. As soon as they fail they want a socialist bailout. The consumer is always the one that loses. Money is literally power. With money you can do anything, even escape jail for murder.

      • tetracycloide says:

        Capitalism works for everyone. The problem, as you rightly point out, is that western markets, even the us, aren’t capitalist because there’s so much social insurance for corporations. Copyrights, the thing that makes region locking possible, is a state granted monopoly so in this specific case even it’s the opposite of capitalism that’s harming consumers.

        • waltC says:

          Yes, capitalism provides both the motivation and the profits necessary to pay the salaries of the people who create computer games–a great study in the presumed “benefits” of a non-capitalist economy is Cuba! No computer game companies there–indeed, being able to afford better than a 30-year-old automobile is a rarity…;) But even Castro’s brother is having to allow private enterprise (capitalism) among the Cuban population to a measured extent, else Cuba’s economy, poor as it is, would completely collapse into anarchy.

          That’s also one way of looking at copyrights, I suppose. OTOH, without copyright, which of course is granted to individuals no less than it is granted to corporations, there’d be precious little incentive for anyone to write a great book or a great movie script, etc. Copyright is a perfectly sound, completely reasonable legal right for the creators of original material to have. The main problem is that the courts in the US have allowed copyright to extend far beyond any reasonable limits until today we are almost looking at copyrights in perpetuity! It’s gotta’ stop somewhere. I think “for the duration of the *original* copyright holder’s life” is plenty, and plenty long enough. What’s happened is that so many individual copyright holders sell their copyrights to large companies which then seek to perpetuate them–eg, Ian Fleming’s James Bond, etc. Copyrights should operate legally like generic drugs, imo: for certain, reasonably defined periods the holder is granted exclusive rights, but after that the work falls into the public domain. Lifetime of the copyright holder is fine, AFAIC. But life + 75 years? Ridiculous.

          • Emeraude says:

            I wouldn’t use Cuba as an example of a non-capitalistic economy given how it hasn’t been allowed to play fairly with other economies. But that may just be me.

            That’s also one way of looking at copyrights, I suppose.

            That’s not one way to look at it, that’s the very basic definition of copyright.

            OTOH, without copyright, which of course is granted to individuals no less than it is granted to corporations, there’d be precious little incentive for anyone to write a great book or a great movie script, etc.

            Disproved by history and other social sciences. People created works of art before copyright. There is no proven correlation between copyright and volume and quality of output.
            Copyright is mostly a matter of fairness (it was originally created to protect artists from publishers who were making a fortune out of printing their work without paying them a dime – which makes our current situation where it is used to protect publishers from the public, often at the expense of the artists themselves, all the more ironic) and of preventing a small minority of patrons to control the whole direction of artistic outputs.

            Copyright is a perfectly sound, completely reasonable legal right for the creators of original material to have.

            Highly disputable. I’d say some of the afferent rights granted by some forms of copyrights (the moral rights especially, in the countries following authorial rights traditions) are perfectly sound and reasonable. The fact that, for example, in countries of common laws, the employer owns the copyright in work created by employees I find certainly abhorrent and at the very least worth debating, as in my opinion it quite simply negates one of the wanted positive effects of copyright.

            The main problem is that the courts in the US have allowed copyright to extend far beyond any reasonable limits until today we are almost looking at copyrights in perpetuity! It’s gotta’ stop somewhere.

            Agreed that it is *one* of the issues. Personally the most I’d give is the original duration of copyright in the US: 14 years reapply-able once for a maximum of 28 years.

  9. Shadowcat says:

    Goodness. Who could have forseen that a platform based around DRM might screw over some of its customers? But never mind… I expect that nothing like this will ever happen again.

    • Grygus says:

      Goodness. Who could have seen that a delivery service that allows DRM also allows publishers other ways to screw their customers? Everyone, that’s who, and it changes nothing.

  10. Premium User Badge

    jmexio says:

    I’m actually from one of those apparently too-alien-for-anyone-to-worry South American countries. I have been getting a note on some store pages stating that “If you buy this game in X you’ll only be able to play it in *listofcountries”, I’m not sure it was just on Metal Gear, I’ll write back if I come across it again.

    As for games being cheaper sometimes here, I’ve never came across those that I know of. If anything, I’ve had the opposite happen to me: I sometimes browse the Steam store with store.steampowered.com/?cc=us so I can see some games not available on my region, and when I buy them I (sometimes) get an upward price correction when finalizing the purchase.

    • Mokinokaro says:

      The message is different on Metal Gear.

      The other games that don’t work in your region are probably GFWL titles. GFWL doesn’t work in a lot of South America and Asia due to a lack of servers.

  11. mouton says:

    but but Steam is pure good!

    • MadTinkerer says:

      Ehhhh… Even as much of a fan of Steam as I am, I wouldn’t call it “pure good”. It’s pretty close to pure, 23 carats or something like that, but there are a few features that bug even me. I’d love it if Steam was more dictatorial, forcing publishers to compromise for the good of the consumers, but that’s not the reality of the situation. Gabe & co see Games-As-Service as serving consumers and developers and publishers as equally as possible.

      Unfortunately, the attitudes of some publishers throw that balance out of whack, but I think in this case the feature is more to do with those publishers that are still desperately clinging to the retail market because they didn’t get the memo a decade ago (you know: the inter-company memo where the publishers all agreed to simultaneously murder the PC retail market). Retail, and trying to emulate it, is pretty much the only reason to have region locks.

      The smarter, not-Konami, publishers will look at this feature and mutter to themselves “Implement a feature that encourages piracy (in locked regions), or don’t implement a feature that encourages piracy… hmmmmm…”

    • Shodex says:

      Steam is more Chaotic Good. The end result of what they do is good, but they don’t show any mercy to competition and certainly aren’t afraid to shake things up.

      GOG on the other hand is Lawful Good, they’ll sacrifice their own potential profits to ensure your user experience is easy, fun, cheap, and hassle-free.

      Origin is Chaotic Neutral. They have a goal and will strong-arm you for getting in the way.

      Uplay? Uplay is just shit.

  12. Darth Gangrel says:

    So what? I’ve got a whole 2 Steam friends (both in Canada, me in Sweden) and we all have similar gaming tastes, but they’re faster about playing and buying games, so I never find anything to give them. I hardly ever buy anything that I don’t already have and that I don’t want for myself, so no gifting available at all.

    • soldant says:

      I’m really pleased that this doesn’t affect you, but when a game like BLOPS retails for $20 USD in the Steam US store, and for $90 USD in the Australian Steam store (that’s USD, not AUD, so exchange rate applies), then benign gifting like this allows us to avoid paying ridiculous markups for absolutely no valid reason. I’ve also exchanged gifts with a kind RPS user (which had nothing to do with regional pricing) but that could go right out the window.

      Basically Valve’s turned around and sided with the publishers, probably because it’s better business to keep publishers on side, since they’ve already got PC gamers cornered for the most part.

      • Derpa says:

        There are valid reasons it happens.

        • prian says:

          Please enlighten us as to just what those reasons are.

          For something like European games costing a premium of 15-30% – that’s explainable due to VAT and the extra for greed / conversion charges (VAT can range up to 27% – and that’s with every possible additional tax included) but when it comes to the Australian pricing? Or the pricing in Brazil?

          Heck, sometimes Europeans have to pay a premium of over 30% – so what’s going on there?

          • KDR_11k says:

            Prices were set to match US prices back when the Euro was at 0.80 USD and never updated. Well, never downwards, we still get the 10 currency units hike for every console generation.

        • jalf says:

          Sure, if you define “valid” as “not illegal”.

          The more interesting question is, are there reasons why customers should find it reasonable?

        • tetracycloide says:

          What an appropriate username for a comment like that.

    • Kaeoschassis says:

      If your only response to a particular topic is “So what? This topic does not affect me in any way.” then I’m confused as to why you’d even comment at all.

      This topic doesn’t affect you – good for you, I am sincerely and non-sarcastically happy for you.
      It affects plenty of other people. So that.

  13. LionsPhil says:

    ‘Tis the season for shunning all fellow man who don’t live within the same imaginary line-in-the-dirt as you.

    • Bull0 says:

      In economic terms those lines aren’t quite so imaginary – there are lots of measurable things that dictate regional pricing linked to average incomes in those places, etc. That isn’t to say that publishers will use it that responsibly, there’s definitely a lot of “charge what the market will bear” going on. It’d be better if instead of disabling cross-region gifting entirely they just let you pay the asking price in your friend’s region to gift it to your friend. I guess they didn’t do that because they thought it’d be a tough sell.

      • LionsPhil says:

        Yeah, I know, but pretty much what you said. There are better ways they could have done this.

      • Premium User Badge

        AngelTear says:

        Considering GOG gets away with doing one universal price for every region, I definitely think, if Valve wanted to, with their immense leverage, they could impose, if not the same price everywhere, at least that their games be available worldwide.

        • Baines says:

          Valve benefits from region restrictions by making more money. Remember, Valve is not a good guy. It hasn’t been a good guy for a very long time. When it comes to Steam, it is at best evil through negligence (almost the life story of Steam), sometimes evil through experimentation (such as the economic experiments that it would perform within Steam), and at other times just plain corporate evil.

          • Premium User Badge

            AngelTear says:

            I understand that reasoning with regional pricing, (I did say “If Valve wanted to”; I know they won’t, I was just pointing out that the reason is Valve more than any complicated economic issue) but why block games in certain countries to the point that they can’t even be gifted? Even from an evil business standpoint, that doesn’t make much sense to me, beside negligence as you pointed out.

        • Bull0 says:

          They’re different markets. Yeah GOG has some newer stuff on it now but on the whole it’s older stuff and their structure reflects that. Publishers want regional pricing on Steam so that there isn’t huge disparity between what I pay for Call of Battlefield 7 on Steam and what I’d pay for it at a physical retailer. Such silly concerns don’t matter with GOG’s catalogue.

          I’m still not saying it’s totally justifiable, but GOG’s policies aren’t really relevant because they’re mostly not selling the same products.

          • Premium User Badge

            AngelTear says:

            Well, obviously there are reason for publishers and the whole market to think that regional pricing are a good thing (for them), all I was saying is that, if Valve wanted to be customer-friendly, they’d say “well, we own the biggest gaming platform, so we decide the rules here; no regional pricing and regional locking, or else…” and I don’t see why that couldn’t work.

          • Bull0 says:

            Big pubs would pull their franchises from Steam.

          • The Random One says:

            Pull their games from Steam? That’s as likely as pulling them from Walmart.

          • soldant says:

            I get that they do this to ‘match’ boxed copies but because the Australian Steam store is in USD, if our dollar is weaker we end up paying even more for the digital copy. When CoD4 got bumped up to $89.99 USD (to “match” retail pricing which was $89.99 AUD) it ended up being near $114 AUD after factoring in the exchange rate. So you’d be paying more for the digital copy than the boxed copy.

            That said apparently Australia is one of the last places where PC games can be found on a shelf…

      • tetracycloide says:

        The lines are still imaginary. The reasons for price discrimination are real but the lines are still imaginary.

  14. FriendlyPsicopath says:

    I live in south america, usually the prices are higher, a few times lower, i used http://www.steamprices.com to compare steam prices worldwide, to see if a promotion was worth getting it, or i was paying 10% more…. well so long freedom on the interwebs…we all knew this day would come

    • zhivik says:

      And I live in Eastern Europe, and I have never in my life seen a game price being lower than in Western Europe or in the United States. In fact, most often than not I’ve seen the opposite. Maybe it’s different for Russia, but certainly not for Bulgaria, where I live. By the way, this should be a case for the European Commission, I don’t believe the common market rules allow for discriminating among EU members.

      Anyways, this is another classic example of regional price discrimination. All that talk of how regional copyright allows better protection of intellectual property is rubbish. Its only purpose is to allow companies to sell the same product at different prices legally. This would make some sense if transportation costs were a factor, but they aren’t in digital sales. The only difference may be taxes, but it is also a moot point, since selling outside your country normally gives you the right to a tax credit (whether VAT or sales tax), because you export.

      Oh well, why I even bother. There are companies that prove business can be done right (GOG.com in this particular business), so we should support them as much as we can.

  15. Rosveen says:

    Yay, even more obnoxious kind of region lock! It’s nothing new though. Some region-locked games have always been ungiftable in my territory (for example Dishonored). Now it’s just going to be more pervasive.

    That said, I imagine it only affects countries paying in Russian rubles and Brazillian reais – so not me. Here in Poland we get the best of both worlds: East European region locks and Western prices in euros…

    • KDR_11k says:

      There are two tiers of Euro pricing, no idea where Poland stands in those but Euros don’t automatically mean paying the maximum price.

      • Rosveen says:

        We’re in tier 2, but as far as I can tell only Valve games have price differences. Other publishers set the same price for both tiers 99% of the time.

    • HadToLogin says:

      Hey, Poland doesn’t have THAT bad – that’s just great deals polish publishers of those games make, to make them get more money.

      EU countries to the East of Poland (“we’ve been part of Soviet Union, not just pseudo-independent countries”), they do have your ‘best of two worlds: – EU prices and Russian games (best example: Borderlands 2 fiasco, where it turned out they get Russian-language-only version of game – in the end, they received both RU and Rest-of-World version).

  16. mrmalodor says:

    A handless person could still pet a pettable kitty with his or her face. This is arguably a more fun way to pet a kitty, unless you’ve got allergies.

    • dogsolitude_uk says:

      I have a cat allergy, so thanks for the heads up there (if you’ll pardon the expression). :)

      • Darth Gangrel says:

        Perhaps you could pet it with your stumps if handless or your forearms? Maybe use really thin gloves if you have hands?

  17. Premium User Badge

    AngelTear says:

    Steam? What is Steam?

    Ooooh, I remember now, it’s that store I sometimes have to use because of exclusives that are not on GOG.
    (one universal price, no regional blocks, no DRM, 30 day refund if your game doesn’t work, thank you very much)

    Jokes aside, Steam is great and easy to use, you can’t have automatic updates and the steam workshop and steamworks, and the in-game overlay with the chat without some form of DRM, and it’s definitely better than most DRMs out there, but sometimes I wish I could game without it, because for any of those “Pros” there at least a couple of “Cons”.

    • Emeraude says:

      You can’t have automatic updates and the steam workshop and steamworks, and the in-game overlay with the chat without some form of DRM

      What makes you believe this ?

      • Premium User Badge

        AngelTear says:

        Well, either every single game develops its own interface, hosts their own servers for workshop and updates, and make you create, each and everyone of them, an account so that you can add your friend every time, (which is simply too expensive, especially for indies) or you do need a centralized hub of sorts. Surely you could do with a lot less restrictions than Steam has, but it would still be a kind of DRM at some level.

        I wish I could have my game “manager” like I have my music player and library organizer, separate from the store itself, maybe ad-driven, but implementing all those things and making sure it is compatible with every game, without a store to support them economically, is much more expensive than a simple music player.

        • Emeraude says:

          But you can (or could) do all those things separately free of DRM already.

          • Premium User Badge

            AngelTear says:

            Well, surely, but for most games (especially indies) it wouldn’t be possible. You can host your mod on MODDB or Nexusmods, then download them and install them separately, but that’s not nearly as fast and easy to use as the Steam Workshop. I know several people who have trouble dealing with a zip file, they wouldn’t even dare installing a mod manually, they think that’s just for hackers and that they’d risk deleting windows or something.

            Same for automatic updates, either you have your own server to let people check and download them and install them automatically, or they’re not *automatic* anymore. I mean, it’s precisely the DRM that, for all its drawbacks, lets you have those advantages. You can also use skype and your browser instead of the steam overlay, but you’d have to alt-tab and that’s not as convenient. You can do everything manually or separately, but it’s not nearly as user-friendly, and that makes a huge difference, even for people like me who *can* do manual updates and install mods etc.

          • dogsolitude_uk says:

            Emeraude: well said sir :)

            AngelTear: you don’t need regional pricing (or any other kind of DRM for that matter) to allow automatic updates or hosting of mods etc. An *optional* (as opposed to mandatory) check on the servers for updates will suffice for that, and that isn’t ‘DRM’ if it’s optional. I think ou’re getting ‘content management’ and ‘digital rights management’ confused there!

        • dogsolitude_uk says:

          Hmmm… I agree that having a centralised game hub that manages updates, achievements, has a storefront and even IM and other community features is great, and I love that stea does this.

          But none of those good things require region locking, mandatory contacting of the Steam servers every so often (on pain of locking your games) etc. They’re just ‘bad’ things that have been put in alongside the good bits.

          As for me, I like steam and use it a lot, but this is a d1ck move. Still, as implementation is at the publisher’s discretion, we’ll soon see who the d1ck publishers are I guess!

  18. Jimbo says:

    Thanks for killing Christmas, Gabe.

  19. Mokinokaro says:

    There are reasons you do don’t see modern AAA games on gog.com outside of CDProjekt.

  20. Metalhead9806 says:

    As long as this doesnt affect retail keys im fine. I don’t gift on Steam however i do go to big retail cd key sites and get my games on the cheap.

  21. Christo4 says:

    Well this sucks…
    I had the same issue with dark souls not being available in my country even if i wanted to buy it so i had to have someone gift it to me instead.
    I hope the second one or other games won’t do that same thing.
    I mean they don’t even allow you to buy it and then they blame piracy…

  22. Duke Nukem says:

    This has more than one problem. One of those would be that it’s affecting people who don’t get anything in exchange for a region lock (us argentinians have the same prices as USA, even more in some cases) and another of those big issues is that if we decide to move to another country we may lose access to some of our games.

  23. fluffy_thedestroyer says:

    South America ?? wait what ? they can afford a pc or a console there ???? What episode did I miss lol

    • hotmaildidntwork says:

      Possibly the one labeled “60s to present”?

    • Paul.Power says:

      Pretty sure it was this exact train of thought from Nintendo that led to Sega getting market dominance there in the 90s.

  24. ZakG says:

    can i post a pic here? I have one that is perfect for the situation :)

    Edit. ok no i can’t. never mind.

  25. ZombieRiot says:

    I’m from germany, I’ve only recently learned that gifting uncensored copies of games actually works on Steam…

  26. Philomelle says:

    This isn’t even news. Steam has been doing this for over a year now, with mostly AAA-listers using this feature. XCOM, Dishonored and many other recent games do this in order to off-set Russian key traders who buy games for super-cheap during sales, then sell them for the “lowered” price on American websites. Most of them are simply limited to distribution within specific regions, but others forbid gifting altogether.

    This is a case where a bunch of profiteering assholes spoiled the fun for everyone with international friends. I’m not happy about it, but I understand why it happened.

    Notably, SquareEnix and Ubisoft stubbornly refuse to use the regional lock feature. That is more surprising in SquareEnix’s case; while Ubisoft generally doesn’t price down their games for Russian markets (AssCreed is still 60 dollars here, just like everywhere else), SquareEnix drives prices down quite aggressively. Tomb Raider, for example, is currently 5 bucks (10 with all DLC attached). Other companies sometimes remove the gifting limits after several years of its presence on the market (as happened with Civilization V and Arkham City).

    • jalf says:

      This is a case where a bunch of profiteering assholes spoiled the fun for everyone with international friends. I’m not happy about it, but I understand why it happened.

      I’m not sure exactly how this would work, but I get the feeling that the “profiteering assholes” you are referring to are not the publishers, but distributors who sold Steam keys across regions.

      Why, exactly, is such behavior considered “asshole” behavior? I believe that most companies try to make a profit. The big publishers certainly do. And buying a product in region X and selling it in region Y is a pretty old and well-established way of doing business. Do you also rage against companies that import cars, clothes, fruit or PC hardware across the world?

      When people spot a niche in which they can make money, then they will try to fill it and make money. I don’t see why people doing it in *this* particular scenario is worse than in so many others.

      • taristo says:

        I’m not sure exactly how this would work, but I get the feeling that the “profiteering assholes” you are referring to are not the publishers, but distributors who sold Steam keys across regions.
        Globalization is only supposed to be good for companies, you see?
        It’s “business as usual” and entirely normal when giants like EA or similar close down studios and support to outsource customer support and mobile development to India, QA to Romania, make their hardware using cheap labor in China and similar.

        But as soon as the customers could actually stand to profit from such a relationship or a few shops decide to follow the entrepreneurial spirit in an entirely legal way they’ve got to be stopped under any circumstances, we can’t have that now…

      • SkittleDiddler says:

        In Philomelle’s world, capitalism is only allowed to benefit one party. We can’t have it benefiting everyone, you know. That would be baaaaaaaad.

        • Philomelle says:

          Yes, I’m really sorry that I’m not supportive of the common Russian mindset that system abuse, theft and plagiarism are okay as long as they “help out the little guy”.

          • SkittleDiddler says:

            Abuse? I wouldn’t call gaming an unfair system “abuse”.

            Theft? Hardly — remember, this discussion is about resellers and gifters, not fucking thieves.

            Plagiarism? WTF man, I don’t even know how to respond to that.

            The kind of system in place should be benfitting all parties involved, not just one or two.

          • Philomelle says:

            I meant in general. Russian culture as a whole glorifies illegal practices so long as they serve to make money at the expense of someone non-Russian. This is just one of the aspects of it.

            How is lowering the price in a region known for its much lower average salary per person an unfair practice? Would you prefer if the publishers started pricing Russian releases at western price, the way Ubisoft and Bethesda do?

          • SkittleDiddler says:

            Seeing as how regional pricing is implemented in Russia precisely to combat piracy, and not for reasons of economic sympathy as you seem to think, I’d definitely say it’s unfair. Let’s not forget about Steam’s silly $1=£1 regional price gouging, or the fact that Brazil sees massive discounts on digital goods despite the fact that it is listed among the top ten GDPer’s in the world.

            None of that means the regional system is completely broken, of course. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

      • Philomelle says:

        I refer to individual people who bought their keys for 50% of the international price, then sold them for 75-80% of it to another person while presenting it as a discounted product. It was a very common practice among Russian Steam users for a while, one that was mostly abused right after the game’s release day. It’s asshole behavior because it’s ultimately abusing the system established by the actual distributor (Steam).

        Rather than comparing it to importing products, this would be comparable to buying someone’s stock for 90% off during Black Friday, then setting up a stand right outside their door next day and selling that same stock for 33% off. You might enjoy it because you made a profit, but the store owner has every right to be pissed and feel like the trust between him and the customer has been abused.

        • hotmaildidntwork says:

          I would say that the bitterness in that example is being misdirected, because the shopkeeper walked right into that one. That’s why most people are sensible enough not to sell their entire stock at a price they can’t sustain.

        • Shadram says:

          This analogy only works if the store owner only allows entry to people who live on certain streets; everyone else has to go to his other shop where prices are double what they are in this shop. He really only has himself to blame.

    • iucounu says:

      There’s recently been a big court case relating to textbook publishing. Some guy realised he could make a profit if he bought textbooks in the Far East, where regional pricing is lower than in the US, and shipping them over to America for resale. The publisher in question (I think it was Wiley) objected. I think the court ruled for the importer under first sale doctrine. This is becoming problematic for people who want to maintain regional pricing differentials for IP.

    • HadToLogin says:

      Square Enix blocks games – officially you can’t buy gifts of their games in Russia. Notice officially :P

      • Philomelle says:

        I just went to poke around and see, and it looks like they’re not very consistent about it. None of their games are labeled as “not giftable in your territory”, but Tomb Raider, Final Fantasy VII and Deus Ex: HR Director’s Cut cannot be gifted regardless. Hitman: Absolution can be, but only in Russia. FF8, older Tomb Raider games, Legacy of Kain series, Sleeping Dogs all can be gifted here.

        It’s still better than 2K, which blanket-ban games from being gifted in our territory.

  27. huldu says:

    This is great news actually, but not for some of you who exploited the old system. It’s meant to make sure support, the game etc will work fine for you.

    • jalf says:

      … because we all know that PC’s running of Brazilian electricity are incompatible with software written by Finnish developers…

      What?

      • derbefrier says:

        Actually think about it and you might be able to understand it. Localization, local support and customer service etc…

        • hotmaildidntwork says:

          I’m not following the logic, here.

        • Premium User Badge

          Bookbuster says:

          What localisation? What local support? 99 times out of 100 I’m getting exactly the same game as my US or UK counterparts and exactly the same ‘support’. The only localisation most of them have to do is pay a couple thousand dollars to get their game classified here (and not all of them even do that).

  28. Miltrivd says:

    Lack of research here Nathan. The only place that has different pricing on Steam on South America is Brazil. No other country does. On top of that is not uncommon that when a game goes on discount the price reduction for SA countries is lower than the US one.

    This is not nice, or good, it’s enabling screwing quite a bunch of customers just because some people are too stupid to learn basic geography or notice that we don’t even use the same language with the only country that has a special market.

  29. Kitsunin says:

    Fan-effin-tastic. I live in Taiwan, and don’t have a credit card here, so I rely on family in the US to buy games and gift them to me…if I can’t do that, well…piracy here I come, I suppose there ‘aint much else I can do.

  30. Doug says:

    How the steam tracking location works? I am a brazilian in Europe and I can still buy the games in Real (brazilian money)

  31. Megakoresh says:

    This would be understandable if the prices that Valve allows would be understandable. 1 to 1 Dollar to Euro rate is fucked up. This is only more fucked up. Assholes.

  32. mbp says:

    “Doesn’t Apply to Retail Keys”
    Does this mean that those of us who avail of our (cough) holiday residence in the USA to buy Steam Keys from Amazon are still Ok?

    • HadToLogin says:

      For now nothing changes.

      It’s new system. That right now only blocks same old Russia and Brasilia regions.

      But we’ll see what will happen next, when publishers notice lots of Euro-land buys games using friends in UK/USA…

  33. clom says:

    “I’ve mailed Valve with questions about the new limitations, and I’ll pen some form of update as soon as I hear back.”

    Why Valve, not Konami? It seems to me Nathan is missing the point here. As is anybody who misguidedly blames Valve for pricing differences or tapered releases, for example.

    Game or patch doesn’t download? Creditcard data stolen? Someone stole your whole account after hacking Valve? VAC kicking you for the wrong reasons? Offline access not working as advertised? Steam stealing the personal info stored on your PC? Valve tesaing the whole world with participation in Steambox beta, and then only giving it to a bunch of US citizens? Blame Valve.

    This? No. Please RPS, be better than this.

    • HadToLogin says:

      Because Valve made this system per publishers request, not Konami?
      So it’s Valve who knows what exactly it might cause to global trading.

      For example, TF2 keys will lose their value, as lots of trading will die.

      • Grygus says:

        You’re blaming the grocery store for Monsanto’s practices. If the publishers kill trading, it isn’t Valve’s fault.

        • SteelPaladin1997 says:

          Except the publishers could not do it without Valve’s complicity. They literally did not have that choice until Valve decided to give it to them. Thus, Valve is, at the very least, an accomplice in the final result.

          • Grygus says:

            No, sorry. It’s not illegal to punch you in the face, but if you get punched the cops are not complicit; the responsibility lies entirely with the puncher. The publishers asked for a feature, it is legally their right to have the feature, and Valve provided it to them, as they should. Remember that to Steam, both publishers and purchasers are customers. If you don’t like it, that’s completely fair, but blaming Valve is just laziness.

        • SteelPaladin1997 says:

          Your analogy is horrifically flawed. The police are not actively taking an action to enable someone to punch you in the face. Valve is in no way a passive party here.

          And it is certainly not the publishers’ “right” to have such a feature. They have absolutely no legal right to control gifting of an unopened and unused product. Valve gave the ability to them as a service and consumers have every right to hold Valve accountable for making that choice.

          • clom says:

            “They have absolutely no legal right to control gifting of an unopened and unused product” – Show me the law or court decision which makes it illegal for a software publisher to do what Valve is allowing publishers to do here and I’ll eat my shorts.

            “consumers have every right to hold Valve accountable for making that choice” – You are right, consumers do have this right. I’m just saying it’s misguided and irrational for them to do so.

          • Emeraude says:

            @clom:
            http://curia.europa.eu/jcms/upload/docs/application/pdf/2012-07/cp120094en.pdf

            Where the copyright holder makes available to his customer a copy – tangible or intangible – and at the same time concludes, in return form payment of a fee, a licence agreement granting the customer the right to use that copy for an unlimited period, that rightholder sells the copy to the customer and thus exhausts his exclusive distribution right.

            (Emphasis mine.)
            There, you can now eat your shorts.

    • Megakoresh says:

      They are better than this (i.e. fanboism) so they blame Valve. Fanboism is pathetic, no respectable journalist would allow themselves to be one.

      • clom says:

        As you clearly misunderstood me, I’ll try to explain to you my point again.

        I am saying what while there might be plenty of things Steam-related to blame Valve for, regional pricing and restrictions on after-purchase distributions of Steam-keys is definitely not one of them. It is the publishers who decide on these matters. The same publishers that are paying Valve to provide a service that helps them distribute software in a way that maximizes profit for the publisher.

        By “better than this” I mean better than “blaming something on a company even though it is not this company’s fault”. What does being rational have to do with “fanboism”?

  34. Coflash says:

    Here’s a guide I made a while back, I suppose it just became a little more relevant

    http://coflash.com/steam/

  35. DrManhatten says:

    That’s exactly the reason why I stopped buying games on steam and now have switched to GOG and The Humble store as when companies become too big, they become greedy and stupid. Steam can bucker off as far as I am concerned.

    • Grygus says:

      Yeah, mean ol’ Steam making publishers choose to use this! Why, in the past games publishers loved us gamers, and never ever did anything to hurt the industry, like blowing venture capital on ping pong tables and cars and delivering mediocre games, or buying up talented developers and then shuttering them! They also frequently discounted their wares by up to 75% several times a year in convenient sales! It was a peaceful oasis of love and brotherhood. But now Valve’s hate has ruined everything and Steam is pure evil.

      • Emeraude says:

        Valve didn’t make Publishers choose to do this, it offered them the tools do it.
        So, as the service provider:

        1) Valve is the most likely to be able to answer Mr. Grayson’s questions, given the people working there *are* the ones who designed, built and provide the whole thing.

        2) They are as much guilty as publishers of the end result.
        To use your own flawed store analogy, if Walmart allowed the companies renting space in its shops to selectively prevent people from buying products there depending on their country of origin, you can bet Walmart would bear the brunt of the public backlash just as much, if not more, as the companies making use of the service (yup that analogy’s still flawed).
        Deservedly so.

  36. HadToLogin says:

    FYI, it’s not like it’s that much different as it was – there’s lot of Russia/CIS-region locked games on Steam (2k is probably a leader), there’s few Brasilia-only games.
    Real question is – are we going to see UK-region, North-America-region, Euro-region and who knows what else (Germany-region and other censorship-regions), or is it just same old, just in easier-to-use for publishers way.

    • Grygus says:

      Yeah, I am guessing that it is just a new implementation of an old feature.

  37. Luelf1955 says:

    my buddy’s step-sister makes $74/hour on the internet. She has been laid off for five months but last month her payment was $20294 just working on the internet for a few hours. view website,,,,,
    http://www.Rush64.com

  38. eclipse mattaru says:

    Before you panic, note that it only applies to Eastern Europe and South America at the moment. Prices are sometimes lower in those regions

    You might want to tune that fact-checking supercomputer of yours a little bit. As an inhabitant of one of those not-worth-caring-about South American countries, I’ll have to call bullshit on that. We get the same prices they get in the US –that is, if we get the games at all.

    • Uninteresting Curse File Implement says:

      We in Russia do get games on Steam cheaper.
      Apply for citizenship in an embassy near you.
      PS no homosexuals.

      • TWChristine says:

        Wow.

      • HisDivineOrder says:

        Worked out for this American I heard immigrated recently. Snowden says he loves working at the plant. He says he loves Russia. He loves it so much he begs to stay every chance he gets to talk about it. ;)

  39. blie777 says:

    my Aunty Olivia recently got a 9 month old Fiat 500 Abarth by part-time working online from home. find out here http://Buzz95.com

  40. HisDivineOrder says:

    I suspect Valve is seeing some downtick in sales because of increased competition (GMG, Amazon DVG, Gamestop/Impulse, Humble Bundle, and Gamefly Digital), so they’re trying to patch some of the holes in their model that are leaking sales (ie., games being sold for considerably less from other regions).

    I suppose it makes sense. I figured the party’d end eventually. They might also see it as a way to improve customer service since one of the biggest problems with this steam trading of other region games is that some of them are either unusable on other region accounts OR the question becomes if your account will be locked for registering one. It doesn’t typically happen, but what DOES typically happen is a LOT of people ask about it.

    You have to wonder how many emails Steam gets about that issue and how the problem has escalated since the rise of Steam continues. At a certain point, they’d have to resolve the issue in a more definitive way to stop (or at least slow down) people’s asking about it.

    So I see a lot of reasons for Valve to do it. I also see some for publishers (ie., profits). It’ll hurt Valve in the short term, but probably be a long term gain. Especially if RIGHT NOW they’re wooing publishers to a Linux-based SteamOS and want to offer them added incentives and reasons to join up.

    Google did the same thing once they started wanting movies and music as a service. Suddenly, they cared about what these content companies needed where before they didn’t. Now Steam suddenly cares more about what publishers need.

    Because they have a new OS they want stocked with games. They’ll give them a lot of concessions to make that happen. This could be one of them.

  41. Cryo says:

    I’m not sure how this is a new thing since I already have a bunch of steam games that won’t work outside of my region.

  42. unnamedXD says:

    I’ve just purchased dark souls from the steam website, and now i get this error message
    http://i.imgur.com/iiJ9W0H.png?1
    i hope when i get home the game will be ready to download.