Steam payments will now be hard to abuse as regional pricing policies will change soon. It’s now less viable for gamers to use VPN to get cheaper prices in other regions.
Valve added restrictions to Steam payments that will help the practice to stop. The new process prevents price circumvention by utilizing country-specific payment methods. By doing so, people cannot buy anything without a localized means of purchase.
Steam uses regional pricing to add value
Since its inception, Steam has brought games to different parts of the world. The digital distribution platform reaches more than 200 countries and territories. In each, they offer what they call regional pricing.
Regional pricing is a localized price system that lets poorer countries buy games. By giving them lower price points that reflect the region’s income, it helps people buy more. Such pricing gives people better buying power.
Even then, first-world gamers use this regional pricing to get cheaper games. They do so by utilizing VPN apps, spoofing their IP for the region they want. This modus operandi is illegal under Steam’s terms and conditions.
Valve explicitly listed that under the platform’s Steam Subscriber Agreement. It notes that taking advantage of regional prices through VPN is not permissible.
“You agree that you will not use IP proxying or other methods to disguise the place of your residence, whether to circumvent geographical restrictions on game content, to purchase at pricing not applicable to your geography, or for any other purpose. If you do this, Valve may terminate your access to your Account,” says the TOC.
Valve now requires local payment methods to prevent abuse
The Subscriber Agreement is something Valve is finding hard to impose right now. With that said, Valve is tightening its procedures to deter further use of VPN. This new method will come to Steam payments from all regions.
SteamDB noticed the changes and showed it off in a tweet. Now, buyers would need to use a local method in the country they’re claiming. This move is possible by using a payment process exclusive to the country they are buying from.
Valve has recently made changing your store country more strict, which requires completing a purchase using a payment method from that country.
This should hinder the ability of using VPNs to buy games cheaper. pic.twitter.com/IozwoO6gsi
— Steam Database (@SteamDB) July 29, 2020
So, if players with a US Steam account are using Argentinian IP, they need proof first. They would need to use an Argentinian payment method on their first purchase. Once that goes through, players could then continue buying in the same region.
This process makes it harder to buy games from a variety of countries that have the lowest price. Steam payments always strive to offer the best value per region. Those skirting the rules will need to find better ways to get discounts.