Support us on Patreon to keep GamingOnLinux alive. This ensures we have no timed articles and no paywalls. Just good, fresh content! Alternatively, you can donate through PayPal, Liberapay or Buy us a Coffee. You can also buy games using our partner links for GOG and Humble Store.

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

By - | Views: 21,461

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
10 Likes, Who?
We do often include affiliate links to earn us some pennies. We are currently affiliated with GOG, Humble Store and Paradox Interactive. See more here.
About the author -
author picture
I am the owner of GamingOnLinux. After discovering Linux back in the days of Mandrake in 2003, I constantly came back to check on the progress of Linux until Ubuntu appeared on the scene and it helped me to really love it. You can reach me easily by emailing GamingOnLinux directly.
See more from me
55 comments
Page: «3/6»
  Go to:

eldaking 31 Jul
Quoting: WorMzyMy opinion is that the price should be the price, and that should be converted to the real-time equivalent for the currency you're buying in.

So game = £10. At time of writing:
  • UK: £10

  • USA: $13.15

  • Japan: ¥1386

  • Europe: €11.12



etc. Then apply whatever local tax applies (which is probably where most of the pressure on Valve comes from, taxperson always wants their cut...).

This looks like you never had to deal with currency exchange. Exchange rates fluctuate wildly, and it is just not feasible to have prices jump around that much. Checking prices daily to see if something is cheaper, not being able to wait for a sale because who knows how much it will cost by then, speculating about the economy to know if it will go up or down in the next few months... nothing works like this. It would be better to just leave the prices in the original currency and let people "import" stuff.

And this is just for the "real-time" part. Exchange rates are not at all a good representation of how much things cost in different countries. Wages aren't proportional, cost of living isn't proportional, the cost of other products is not proportional. People aren't going to pay half their monthly wages for a dumb game that costs USD40, just because geopolitical concerns about the oil industry devalued their currency in the last year. They will buy other things instead, the things that have normal prices. It isn't even about "being nice to people in poor countries" - it is supply and demand; there isn't enough demand for games at this price point, so it is only rational to decrease the price. (See the post by x_wing for a better discussion)
It's correct, nice catch from Valve
Shmerl 31 Jul
Using VPN is like traveling to another country, but in virtual sense. If digital stores want to use physical market analogy and segment the market in virtual space, why are they against people using the physical analogy of travel in the same virtual space? Do they charge foreigners more when they come to a physical store in another country? If they do, that would be considered some weird discrimination. So why are they OK with it in virtual case?

I personally don't shop like that, but if something is only available through VPN, I don't see an issue.


Last edited by Shmerl on 31 July 2020 at 3:42 pm UTC
The_Aquabat 31 Jul
Quoting: ShmerlDo they charge foreigners more when they come to a physical store in another country? If they do, that would be considered some weird discrimination.
you could argue that they do, because if you pay with your credit card from a different country from the physical store, taxes might be different.
and ofc there is some countries that charge Tourist Taxes, mine being one, but pretty sure that in Europe some countries do that as well. Like if you take a tourist visit to some place, they will charge locals less.


Last edited by The_Aquabat on 31 July 2020 at 4:01 pm UTC
eldaking 31 Jul
Quoting: ShmerlUsing VPN is like traveling to another country, but in virtual sense. If digital stores want to use physical market analogy and segment the market in virtual space, why are they against people using the physical analogy of travel in the same virtual space? Do they charge foreigners more when they come to a physical store in another country? If they do, that would be considered some weird discrimination. So why are they OK with it in virtual case?

I personally don't shop like that, but if something is only available through VPN, I don't see an issue.

Then you'd have to go through customs and pay import fees, and there might be strict restrictions on how long you can use the VPN and what activities you can do (such as working), it might require background checks and proof of income, and you might be denied a visa and deported... better not to dig this hole until we tackle the much bigger injustices in border control.
slapin 31 Jul
Well, in case of Ubisoft or when you either VPN or torrent, this choice will bias things towards torrent which I don't like. I wonder why Sony Playstation managed to do it right and Steam can't do it...
slapin 31 Jul
I would be much happier to buy game for higher price but without region restrictions.
bruno.tux 1 Aug
Quoting: The_AquabatI 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.

This is bizarre. In Brazil with a currency less destroyed by inflation and devaluation, games are up to 30% cheaper.
I think this continent is lost. Our currencies are useless in the long run. The Brazilian currency has lost five times its power over the past 25 years. For a country like mine (Brazil), this is unacceptable.

Translated By: Google Translate.
I guess that's part of the "Globalization is for big business, not customers!" textbook. Apparently it's totally fine for a US company to ship your job to Vietnam because wages there are a fraction of what they are here, but if a customer goes "Ok, I can make that work for me too, and shop where it's cheaper!", the same companies go "Oh no, YOU can't do that. Only WE can!"

Too funny.
Quoting: LinasTo be honest, it has always escaped me how games in e.g. Russia cost like 10% of what we pay in the EU. I mean, I do get that purchasing power and salaries are very different, but we are talking about digital goods. It takes whatever amount of money it takes to make a game, in whatever country is was made. It's not like the prices in Russia are lower because it is somehow cheaper to distribute them in Russia. Somehow feels arbitrary and fake in the global economy.
Yeah, we're talking about digital goods. For which the price of distribution approaches zero. So, what's a "fair" price? There is none, there is only income maximization. The rationale for regional pricing is much the same as the rationale for a Steam sale: You do a cheaper price for people who aren't going to pay more than that, and you make sales you wouldn't have made, collecting a small amount of money instead of zero money.
Basically, all prices for digital goods are arbitrary and fake. Regional pricing just makes it a bit more obvious.
While you're here, please consider supporting GamingOnLinux on:

Patreon, Liberapay or PayPal Donation.

We have no adverts, no paywalls, no timed exclusive articles. Just good, fresh content. Without your continued support, we simply could not continue!

You can find even more ways to support us on this dedicated page any time. If you already are, thank you!
Login / Register

Or login with...
Sign in with Steam Sign in with Twitter Sign in with Google
Social logins require cookies to stay logged in.