• Lewis Gillingwater

Valve cracks down on regional pricing loopholes

Steam accounts will no longer be allowed to freely switch between regions in order to buy games that are cheaper in other countries. Where previously users could relocate their Steam storefront at will, Valve will now insist that you stay for at least 3 months before changing again.

Because of the extortionate prices often charged in some regions due to fluctuating exchange rates, such as South America, it's not uncommon for people to change to regions like Australia or the US to get a reasonable price. Ultimately, it's either that or piracy for many people.

Now, however, Valve clearly feels the losses it is making from users switching regions outweighs the potential piracy impact. In addition to restricting region switching, users will also no longer be able to use payment methods outside of their own region, further restricting the ability to shop around the world for better prices.

Will this stick? No doubt people will be annoyed and quickly turn to less legitimate means to obtain games in regions where they otherwise can't. Additionally, Steam has already been fined for so-called 'geo-blocking' by the European Commission, though a 7.8 million euro fine likely hardly makes a dent in Valve's huge money pit.