Although there are those who try to fight for the position, it is indisputable that Steam, today, is the leading platform when it comes to PC game stores. On the one hand we have similar services, such as Epic Games and GOG, and on the other hand the code stores, in which it is possible to buy games for a lower price than they have on these platforms. The former have not managed to stand up to the Valve store and, with respect to the latter, the codes they sell are for Steam and other platforms, so we cannot consider that they are total competition (although they are in part) .
One of the main reasons for the success these code shops enjoy is, obviously, that offer games at a lower price than they have in the catalog when we see them on Steam. And although there are events, such as the summer sales that have started this afternoon, there are many users who prefer to look for the titles they want for a cheaper price and, only if it is not available in those stores, they resort to buying it on Steam.
However, there are those who go further. Although not everyone knows it, it is easily imaginable that Steam game prices tend to vary from region to region. When a distributor or an independent developer uploads their game to Steam for commercialization, they must enter their price in US dollars, and the platform automatically suggests the appropriate prices for the rest of the world.
The key factor is that this calculation does not consist exclusively of making the currency exchange. Steam considers the difference in the economies of different countries and proposes prices adapted to each local economy. Coincidentally yesterday the game developer and YouTuber Alva Majo published a most interesting video, explaining how the main game stores manage their prices.
From that video, and in line with what I was saying, I am left with the moment when it counts that for a game with a price of $ 4.99 in the United States, Steam recommends a price of 67.99 Argentine pesos, which the change is about 0.60 euros. In other words, if the developer or distributor accepts Steam’s suggested prices, the price of the same game drops by almost 86% if you buy it in Argentina instead of in the United States.
With these settings, Steam aims to bring the games closer to users in those countries, since if they kept the same price in all geographies, would most likely be prohibitive for most. The problem is that, as is the case with almost everything, there are always some people who decide to take advantage of these measures for their own benefit, and for this purpose VPN services are particularly useful.
This is not something new, for example at the launch of Cyberpunk 2077 it quickly became known that CD Projekt Red had also adjusted its price in different regions, and that, thus, to buy it for example in Ukraine reduced its price to a third. This quickly circulated on the Internet, in forums, social networks and websites, and finally there were quite a few people who, despite being in other countries with stronger economies, resorted to a VPN to buy the game at the price of Ukraine.
With Steam this is more complex, as it is a technique that Valve identified some time ago, and since then has been establishing measures to avoid that, for example, someone from Spain can buy games in the Argentine store, which is one of the cheapest. And even so, there are still people who find a way to do it, because in certain circumstances, by modifying the country of residence of the account owner and using a VPN, it is possible to buy games in other regions.
In a further crack down on people buying games in cheaper regions, Valve added a limit on how often you can change your Steam account’s country.
Country may not be updated more than once every 3 months. Purchases can be completed using a payment method from your current region.
– Steam Database (@SteamDB) June 23, 2021
This, of course, has resulted in many users change their Steam account location, use a VPN and take advantage of substantially lower prices in countries like Argentina. After the purchase is complete, users reconfigure their account in their home country, and continue to use Steam as normal.
This, however, is going to change, because as we can read in a Steam Database tweet, Valve is going to introduce new restrictions, including that it is only possible to modify the country associated with an account every three months. In addition, the introduction of limitations in the means of payment is proposed, more specifically that you can only pay with means associated with the country in whose version of the store you intend to make the purchase.
It seems a fairly sensible measure by Steam, since local prices have a very clear and defined reason for being: to allow locals to access games that, if they have the prices of other more powerful economies, they could be inaccessible. This is even more evident in Argentina, where the tax burden of gaming is tremendously high. Thus, it is appreciated that Valve takes this type of measure, because the other option would be to end the local pricing policy, something that could be devastating for players in those countries, who would see the price of games move away completely. of its possibilities.