There is a growing trend within Steam to set prices for like titles at different prices depending on the country you are from. Recent examples include Modern Warfare 2, Borderlands and Napoleon: Total War where the markup between the US and AU release is as much as US$30+. I am not pointing a finger at Steam but more at the publishing houses of said games matching the pricing with retail outlets. Steam have stated they do not set the pricing, but rather versions and pricing is set by the publisher of the specific titles. Fair enough as Steam is just a distributor. 2K Games is one of the publishers at fault here (check out the Borderlands pricing article on Kotaku).
Personally I do not believe that this is fair in the case of digitally distributed material where all that is received is the game code. There are no production costs involved such as manufacturing of discs, packaging, printing or delivery - thus it does not merit an increased price.
As such, the recent issue with the RC status and heavy handed censorship imposed on L4D2 brought to light an alternative when purchasing through Steam - what I have dubbed the 'Country Code Workaround' or CCW. Below are details on how to purchase titles from a region other than the one you are currently located in.
Important note: This workaround will not work in the Steam Client
In general you require a browser, your Steam account, a Credit Card and a few minutes of research.
In general there are three (of concern) regions that pricing is set - United States (USD), United Kingdom (GBP) and Australia (USD+/- markup). In the past pricing has been similar across all regions but is now starting to differ. Steam is not the culprit here but rather the games publisher, eg Infinity Ward and 2K Games.
Preliminary Research - finding the best price
1. In order to check where you can get the cheapest title simply open your browser to store.steampowered.com and search for the title you are after. In this example we will use Borderlands.
2. To check what the pricing is for the title in the three regions use the following code on the end of the URL:
- for AU use ?cc=AU
- for UK use ?cc=UK
- for US use ?cc=US
eg: As of 27.11.09 the US version @ US$49.99 is AU$54.30; the UK version @ GBP29.99 is AU$54.07; wheras the AU version @ US$79.99 is AU$86.89. There is at least a AU$32 price difference! So how much do you want to pay?
Making the Purchase
Here we will make the purchase via the US region for Borderlands
1. Login with your existing Steam account via the website store.steampowered.com
2. Go to http://store.steampo...app/8980/?cc=US
3. Buy Borderlands US$49.99 Click 'Add to cart' - ensure the link you click has the correct US version number in the Add to Cart URL in the status bar; just hover over the Add to Cart button
- Standalone: java script:addToCart( 2196);
- Four Pack: java script:addToCart( 2244);
4. Change your country to United States US. The Country field is the important field here,
eg: US: United States; UK: United Kingdom
State and Zip do not appear to influence the purchase, however, be aware that setting a US state may incur extra fees due to tax. If you do use a state use California and the zip 90001.
Steam Deals and Price Reductions - all recorded in one spot
AU Price Comparison Site - very handy seeing the price difference across the regions
Steam and Region Pricing - Atomic
L4D2 Purchase - Atomic
Borderlands Australian Price Fiasco Consolidation Thread - Steam
Edit 1: US States and extra fees due to tax laws - see Making the Purchase, Point 4
Edit 2: Steam Sales info link and minor text and formatting
Edited by neX, 24 August 2010 - 10:44 AM.