You Can't Gift Steam Games Wherever You Want Anymore

You Can't Gift Steam Games Wherever You Want Anymore

Region-locking, the act of making games non-functional if used outside particular parts of the world, is not an uncommon thing in games. It is, however, a big deal for Steam — especially the PC gaming service's trading/gifting market. With widespread region locks now in place, change seems inevitable.

Recently Steam users and developers began to discover that gifting in Russian and Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) regions no longer worked outside of particular regions. Soon it became evident that Southeast Asia, South America, and Turkey were also affected. The short version? No more trading between those areas and Western territories like the United States. The long version, as uncovered by intrepid souls on Reddit, is quite comprehensive:

RU Notice: Gift purchases for Crusader Kings II can only be added to the gift recipient's library if they are in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Republic of Moldova, Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.

Malaysia Notice: Gift purchases for Crusader Kings II can only be added to the gift recipient's library if they are in Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.

Thai Baht Notice: Gift purchases for Crusader Kings II can only be added to the gift recipient's library if they are in Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.

Indonesian Rupiah Notice: Gift purchases for Crusader Kings II can only be added to the gift recipient's library if they are in Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.

Philippine Peso Notice: Gift purchases for Crusader Kings II can only be added to the gift recipient's library if they are in Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.

CIS - U.S. Dollar Notice: Gift purchases for Crusader Kings II can only be added to the gift recipient's library if they are in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Republic of Moldova, Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.

Turkish Lira Notice: Gift purchases for Crusader Kings II can only be added to the gift recipient's library if they are in Turkey.

Brazilian Real Notice: Gift purchases for Crusader Kings II can only be added to the gift recipient's library if they are in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Bahamas, Belize, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Paraguay, Suriname, El Salvador, Uruguay and Venezuela.

Mexican Peso Notice: Gift purchases for Crusader Kings II can only be added to the gift recipient's library if they are in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Bahamas, Belize, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Paraguay, Suriname, El Salvador, Uruguay and Venezuela.

Singapore Dollar Notice: Gift purchases for Crusader Kings II can only be added to the gift recipient's library if they are in Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.

Japanese Yen No restriction note

Norwegian Krone No restriction note

Canadian Dollar No restriction note

U.S. Dollar No restriction note

British Pound No restriction note

Euros (Tier 1) No restriction note

Euros (Tier 2) No restriction note

These restrictions appear to apply to all games, regardless of specific locks (or a lack thereof) publishers might've had in place.

Based on the fact that places like the US and Britain remain unrestricted, it seems like Valve is doing this to curb unsanctioned trades between places where currency is weak and others where it's relatively strong. As Engadget points out, a Russian Steam game could theoretically cost an American user only a few bucks versus the normal price of $US30 or $US40 or $US60.

Steam has always provided localised pricing, so full price in the US and full price in other regions are very different things. This made exchanges between regions extremely appealing for many, as evidenced by boards like Steam Game Swap and sites like Steam Trading and Steam Exchange.

Valve has never been against trading, but it looks like this aspect — the proverbial back alleys and sketchy parking garages of the practice — was irking them. I've reached out to Valve for official comment, but they have yet to reply. I'll update this post when/if they do.


Comments

    The important context here is that the Russian economy is tanking, and on the otherhand if Valve raises Steam prices to compensate then people in Russia will just go back to pirating. They have no choice but to stop people taking advantage of the exchange rate and leave Russian prices as is.

      Yeah I was thinking the same thing. They've known about the Russian grey market since day one. Now that Russian money isn't worth the bread it's wrapped around after its new owner lined up in the snow for it, There's going to have to be a change.

      Pity. I bought from the grey market only when companies imposed Australia Tax. I'll pay full price for a game when full price isn't ridiculous. I'll be waiting for $10 sales for a lot more games now.

        Can still trade with US to avoid the ridiculous Australia-Tax. Its not as much of a saving compared to RU prices. I refuse to pay nearly double the price of a game when even retail stores here are dropping prices. AAA titles like Advanced Warfare was only a few bucks more than than the US version from retailers like BigW and JB so I gladly supported Australian business.

        Theres no excuse for the Australian price gouge, even worse when ISPs like Telstra remove Steam content from their unmetered data charges, so ontop of premium prices, I'm expected to pay even more bandwidth usage charges too?

          Telstra dropping steam is a good reason to switch isps. They obviously think it won't affect their bottom line, so show them that it does. Unlimited from tpg is reasonably priced.

        Don't buy from the grey market, they won't get the message. If anything has an Australia tax just pirate it. Then at least we will show up on piratebay/isohunt as big downloaders and hopefully they will ask themselves why.

      Good point and thanks for bringing it up. I was ready to grab the torches and pitchforks.

    Between adding Hatred back and this, Valve is making is not doing itself any favours :(
    Still, sale soon, so let's hope!

    Phew! Lucky I cleaned up on Russian keys the other week; 7 euro Civ 5 complete ed!

    Damn, have been using this for a while. Guess I'll wait for sales then yeah.

    Wait so does this mean that games purchased on sites such as G2A are now no longer activate-able if you're connecting from Australia? Might have to crack open the ol' VPN if that's the case.

      This change by Steam applies to gifting. CD key activation will still work, though VPN will be required for some titles just as it does now.

      I know that g2play are pretty focused on letting their customers know when certain keys are region locked, can't speak for the others.

    This has been around for years. It only applies to certain games & there's usually a red notice on the Steam store page about it before you buy (when on the particular storefronts that this article mentions).

    Wow, its almost as if people would like to pay the actual price of the game rather than the inflated price of their regions store.

    Just wait for GMG sales and use them instead.

    Wouldn't a simple VPN work to accept the gift? I did this for Telltales: Game of Thrones. I Bought it, got it gifted, and it was restricted to Russia etc, I used a VPN for Russia, accepted the gift, turned off VPN and started downloading it.

      doesn't using a VPN these days get you banned IF you get caught by the all powerful steam?

        Personally I havnt heard of any reports recently about the issue. If I do get banned its their lose of money as I do regularly buy from their store.

        This - your account can get permabanned if you get caught using a VPN to circumvent activations, etc.

    Bummer.. I've made extensive use of my Russian and Brazilian friends over the last two years and was salivating over the prospect of exploiting the ruble when I get home (have been overseas for the last few months).

    Im not yet super savvy with steam, but is something a vpn would get around?
    If so its starting to become essential for Australian internet users to get connected this way

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