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Orange Blocked

Are Valve big meanies? Apparently folk who bought the retail version of Valve's Orange Box from online stores that flog cheap - but legit - boxed copies from foreign climes such as Russia and Thailand are finding that, after a week of happy play, they're suddenly punished for saving a few bucks... How? Read on.

According to a letter-writer to the Consumerist, and backed up by a long thread of complainants here, such penny-pinchers have found Team Fortress 2, Portal et al are no longer playable, Steam all of a sudden proferring only the message that they're in the 'incorrect territory'.

Here's an email exchange one guy had with Valve on the matter:

Hello my cd-key was invalidated and game removed
i get a steam error
Steam - Game unavailable
Team Fortress 2 is not available in your territory

ok so i contacted retailer to get a refund
and purchased a new copy at a local Circuit City here in Tacoma
but when i enter new cd-key says game is already installed log in to steam
but of course that doesn't work and takes me back to
Steam - Game unavailable
Team Fortress 2 is not available in your territory

so i guess i need the supposedly invalid cd-key removed
so i can enter my new one

The response from Valve:

Games purchased in Thailand or Russia can only be played from those countries. If you purchased a game from Thailand or Russia and you do not live in one of those countries, you need to contact the seller for a refund.

I don't think anyone's quite desperate enough to play Episode 2 on the cheap to up sticks to another continent, so refunds seem to be the only answer, though initially the invalidated serial numbers prevented adding new ones. Now though, many folk in the same boat have managed to get their blocked overseas Orange Boxes removed and have either grudgingly bought new, full-price versions from their own territories, or have resorted to the predictable, if understandable, never-buying-a-Valve-game-again-you-utter-bastards ranting

We love Valve here at RPS. But this just doesn't seem right. To use the cliche little man versus enormous corporation argument, God knows they make enough money not to have to do this. If there'd been a warning, if Steam hadn't accepted the keys in the first place, if the sellers and not the buyers had been punished, I don't think I'd feel so aghast.

The lesson would seem to be duh, don't buy import stuff. But this is the internet. It's built upon cat pictures (stop it now Walker- you've got your own blog for that), eye-watering amounts of pornography and bargain-hunting, after all. This is a pretty large-scale wrist-slapping for a very common practice.

In happier news, in Spain the Orange Box is known as 'La Caja Anaranjada', which is a thousand awesomes cooler than the prosaic English version. It sounds like Mexican druglords or something.

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