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Changing your country on Steam has been made harder to battle VPNs

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Something that has been happening for years now, is that people have been switching around their country on Steam and using VPNs to get cheaper prices - Valve looks to have put a stop to it.

Why was this a thing? Thanks to regional pricing, countries that typically have lower incomes can enjoy the same games as others with lower prices to match. Being able to get around that to buy cheaper games using a VPN was a bit of a loophole, which has been sorted by Valve.

Spotted by SteamDB, It's not entirely clear when this actually went live for everyone. Checking it myself, changing country on Steam is now a bit more involved. Previously it was quite easy with a VPN but if you did it too often, Valve would put you on a cool-down from doing so for a while. Now it seems everyone has the same full enforcement. After changing country, you then need to make a purchase from a payment method registered to that country.

It makes sense for Valve to sort it, otherwise developers have had to adjust prices in other regions to match resulting in people from countries with lower incomes ending up with higher prices. This is apparently exactly happened with Horizon Zero Dawn according to VG247, and when you check on SteamDB you can see the prices across countries like Argentina and Turkey rocket upwards.

Using a VPN or proxy to get around it, was actually already against Steam's Terms of Service, with Valve saying if found out they may place "restrictions" on your account.

What are your thoughts on this?

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
Tags: Misc, Steam, Valve
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55 comments
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Appelsin 31 Jul
I'm actually in favour of such a solution, as opposed to the blanket blocking of VPNs, which is how it's done by Netflix and their ilk. There it doesn't matter if you're VPN-ing from your resident country, you're still blocked on general principle.

That said, there may be issues of infrastructure and delivery (I can imagine some) that could potentially make this issue a bit more tricky to work around for a streaming service than a storefront.
Patola 31 Jul
As far as I noticed, it was live at least in March already. At that time I had already moved to Poland from Brazil and was planning to buy the Valve Index.
kadogo 31 Jul
It's pretty fair as solution, we just need to hope that publisher not abuse to higher the price of games too. But they didn't did it before so there are no much reason.

For Streaming services it's more a license issue because there are region restriction because other infrastructure may have the show/movie. But it's sure there are some stupid things like having S1 but not S2 but it's not available in the country at all...

I hope on day we get rid of region license but it's not for soon sadly...
fryk 31 Jul
Thats strange, I don't think this is that new. I live in germany, and I tried to buy "Dying Light" about 2 years ago (not available in steam here) via VPN and it didn't work. Steam only accepted payment from the (VPN) country I am at. I only tried payment with paypal. ( ... so I had to get the game elsewhere :-/ )


Last edited by fryk on 31 July 2020 at 9:37 am UTC
Linas 31 Jul
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Quoting: frykThats strange, I don't think this is that new.
Neither do I. My family lives in another country that crosses the Steam pricing region. When I was buying a game while visiting, Steam showed me a warning, and asked to confirm which country I actually live in. That was a few years ago.


Last edited by Linas on 31 July 2020 at 10:25 am UTC
Liam Dawe 31 Jul
Quoting: Linas
Quoting: frykThats strange, I don't think this is that new.
Neither do I. My family lives in another country that crosses the Steam pricing region. When I was buying a game while visiting, Steam showed me a warning, and asked to confirm which country I actually live in. That was a few years ago.
The difference is now, it's being properly enforced. Before they had things like temporary country-change cooldowns, now it won't let you do anything until you make a purchase with something registered in that country.
Naib 31 Jul
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Quoting: AppelsinI'm actually in favour of such a solution, as opposed to the blanket blocking of VPNs, which is how it's done by Netflix and their ilk. There it doesn't matter if you're VPN-ing from your resident country, you're still blocked on general principle.

That said, there may be issues of infrastructure and delivery (I can imagine some) that could potentially make this issue a bit more tricky to work around for a streaming service than a storefront.
the thing about Netflix and co is they have to do it because of stupid licensing... Country-x might have the "rights" to broadcast something and as a result no one else may and that includes streaming. PITA but its stupid exclusive broadcasting issues.

for games and software its different and yes this makes sense. the subtly in the valve costing was abused by Epic and their PR against why they are cheaper and give more back to developers
The_Aquabat 31 Jul
I can tell because I'm from Argentina some AAA at release were the most expensive of the world, that happened to Resident Evil 3 which was as expensive as Israel. When normally we are like averaging the cheapest of the world in prices. The thing with Horizon Zero Dawn was disturbing it multiply the price by four, in one day, just because some people were recommending to do that.

(edit) you can see here https://web.archive.org/web/20200409141732/https://steamdb.info/app/952060/

because at that price you have to add a tax of 30% so it was the most expensive with Israel.


Last edited by The_Aquabat on 31 July 2020 at 10:44 am UTC
The_Aquabat 31 Jul
well this got me thinking, pretty much this has been like these for months because I tried to pay with a british credit card for a game here and it was rejected. I know this has been like that for months, they only accept Argentine credit cards of debit cards, so , how are this people even skipping the restrictions in the first place?
I know because if you could use a credit or debit card from other country you could skip taxes because Visa and Mastercard collect the taxes, so it is compeletly forbidden for some months now, because it's tax evasion.

Quoting: PatolaAs far as I noticed, it was live at least in March already

yep I think that too, so how are some people skipping restrictions in the first place since paying with a credit card from other country than you preferences it has been blocked for months now?

edit: I figured out were the loophole is, when you change your country, the funds that you have on your wallet change to the local currency as well, so you actually don't need a debit or credit card from that country to purchase, you can just use your funds of your wallet, that were exchanged for local currency.


Last edited by The_Aquabat on 31 July 2020 at 11:28 am UTC
Dedale 31 Jul
I understand the preoccupation about the regional pricing but changing your country may be the only way to evade censorship or surveillance.

An it is not just about folkloric authoritarian regimes. We do have in the EU idiot politicians who, for example, want us to be forced to give a real identity to steam so we don't say naughty things in chats. I kid you not. And public opinions tend to approve such stupid sentiment.
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