In an effort to fight undercutting currency values in foreign nations, Steam has decided to region-lock their digital titles from here on out but only in select countries. The move is a direct response to the decreasing value of the Russian ruble, which is in serious decline against the American dollar.
Essentially, some players were logging into the Russian version of Steam and purchasing digital games using Russian rubles, which have lost about half their value against the dollar. So, rather than paying $60 for a digital release like Assassin's Creed Unity, these players were picking up games for only a few dollars.
Currently, the region-locking has only gone live in Russia and its neighboring countries, as well as Brazil and Indonesia. It's mostly a preventative measure on Steam's part, and does not seem to be indicative of a larger movement. That being said, we wouldn't be surprised to see region locking expand to more territotires if the issue becomes more prevalent.
The Steam region locking comes hot on the heels of Valve's decision to restrict gift trading to discourage exploits. In that case, players were trading games purchased using stolen credit cards in exchange for legitimate games. The exploiter would then receive a paid-for game, while the tradee would see their game removed after some time. Now there is a 30-day waiting period before a purchased game can be traded.
While the Russian ruble situation is very different, it's still a sign that Valve is watching the behind-the-scenes at Steam now more than ever. They want to ensure their users aren't exploiting the system, especially if it means undercutting the prices publishers set for their games.
Region locking has been an important combative measure against piracy in the console space, but so far PC games have been mostly free from such controls. It's for that reason that we don't expect the region locking to extend to all countries just yet, lest Valve wants to lose some of their pull with PC gamers.
They've run mostly unopposed when it comes to premiere digital PC purveyor, and their yearly discounts have become major events. Sure, every now and again they make a confusing decision or two, but fans seem to have faith Valve and Steam are for the good of gamers.
How do you feel about Steam region locking their games? What if region locking extended to all of Steam?
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