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neX

Steam Purchases

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I am a big fan of Steam (their special sales rock but are the bane of my hip pocket!) and digital distribution, but something is starting to emanate an overpowering stench in the ether.

 

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: http://store.steampowered.com/app/8980/?cc=US

3. Take note of the prices for the different regions and then convert them all into AU$ via Oanda Currency Conversion to see which is the best bang for buck.

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.steampowered.com/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);

3. Purchase via credit card - it will state that your location is incorrect.

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.

5. Make purchase with your Credit Card.

Relevant URLs

 

Sales Info

Steam Deals and Price Reductions - all recorded in one spot

AU Price Comparison Site - very handy seeing the price difference across the regions

 

Pricing Issues

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

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yeah but didn't IW say they were going to ban games bought with faked regions?

 

What if they start doing this across the board?

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yeah but didn't IW say they were going to ban games bought with faked regions?

 

What if they start doing this across the board?

Awesome way to actually fix the problem isn't it....

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I think IW really couldn't give a toss about PC gamers full stop with what they have done with MW2 on this platform.

 

The problem that banning on region poses is when a legitimate copy is bought overseas and brought back to homeland shores.

 

Oracle do you have a source for the fake region ban statement?

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Nice post.

 

Beware though if setting country as US. Some states charge an extra tax on things like this, and generally adds another $3-5 to the purchase price. Florida I think it one of the ones that doesn't charge a tax.

 

When you get to the review order stage, double check there's no tax added in. If there is go back and change the state to something else.

 

Might want to add that to the OP neX

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yeah but didn't IW say they were going to ban games bought with faked regions?

 

What if they start doing this across the board?

Awesome way to actually fix the problem isn't it....

 

The ACCC would eat them.

 

Region Coding is technically against Australian Law.

 

But you'd have to be willing to take them to court :(

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Nice post.

 

Beware though if setting country as US. Some states charge an extra tax on things like this, and generally adds another $3-5 to the purchase price. Florida I think it one of the ones that doesn't charge a tax.

 

When you get to the review order stage, double check there's no tax added in. If there is go back and change the state to something else.

 

Might want to add that to the OP neX

I set mine as California and its all good.

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I've never understood how they get away with this. The Trade Practices Act explicitly prohibits a supplier making it known to a retailer that they will cut supply unless a minimum retail price is maintained (s48, s96(3)).

 

How, then, can it be that Valve are compelled to honour the RRPs?

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I just can't seem to get it to work.

 

"Your purchase has not been completed. Your credit card information has been declined by your credit card company.

 

Note that in some cases, your credit card company may put a 'hold' on funds in your account, but you will not be charged. After reviewing the information below, if you believe your card has been declined in error please try your purchase again."

 

 

I have it set as US, CA, 90001.

 

Don't know what the hell is wrong. Tried Paypal aswell but it was giving me errors as well.

 

 

 

And yes I have more than enough funds in my account.

Edited by bushi

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So it should work eventually?

 

I tried it twice until it wouldn't let me purchase anymore.

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If your address doesn't match the address that is on the CC, some places can and will decline.

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I just can't seem to get it to work.

 

"Your purchase has not been completed. Your credit card information has been declined by your credit card company.

 

Note that in some cases, your credit card company may put a 'hold' on funds in your account, but you will not be charged. After reviewing the information below, if you believe your card has been declined in error please try your purchase again."

 

 

I have it set as US, CA, 90001.

 

Don't know what the hell is wrong. Tried Paypal aswell but it was giving me errors as well.

 

 

 

And yes I have more than enough funds in my account.

I had the same problem trying to buy L4D2, got annoyed so I will probably just get it from play asia.

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@bushi Try just setting the Country field as United States and leave everything else as your AU address. Some CC companys also verify on the state and postcode. The only essential field according to Steam is Country.

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Nice post, but we shouldn't have to do this in the first place.

 

Region Coding is technically against Australian Law.

 

But you'd have to be willing to take them to court :(

I smell a class action lawsuit...

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@bushi Try just setting the Country field as United States and leave everything else as your AU address. Some CC companys also verify on the state and postcode. The only essential field according to Steam is Country.

I've left my actual address as accurate as possible.

 

Have to use a US state from the list, and it won't let me use a 4 digit post code.

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OK, it must be the card provider as I can just set the country field and leave everything else. Have you tried UK settings? If it still doesn't work I could prolly gift it in a pinch.

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Yeah mate might take you up on that - but will wait a few days and see if a lower price for it comes along.

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