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Steam Tightens Regional Controls To Prevent Abuse Of Gift Cards

Saturday, August 1st, 2015

Steam, one of the most popular digital platforms for buying and distributing games online, has recently introduced several new security measures to prevent gamers from buying games at cheap rates simply by pretending to be from a different country. The new set of location based restrictions are specifically targeted towards gift cards and gift trading; one of the most abused features of the platform. Since Steam caters to the needs of gamers from every major gaming platform, the new restrictions are bound to affect millions of users from all over the world.

Although the Steam platform is available to gamers from all over the world, the price of the games (especially new ones) could vary significantly from one region to another. While gamers from North America and Europe need to pay top dollars (as much as $60) for a brand new game, Steam users from Asia, South America and Eastern Europe can acquire the same game for significantly less amount of money. This is not a glitch within the Steam platform; game developers usually offer steep discounts to gamers from developing countries to stop piracy and make their games popular in new territories.

Since there is a significant difference in the price of the games across different regions, gamers use a variety of methods to buy games at cheap prices. As an example, gamers usually ask their friends residing in a different country (where the games are available at a low price) to buy gift cards or games for them and then gift it to them through the Steam platform. Another way to save money while buying new games is to use an IP changing solution (such as a VPN) and complete your purchases by pretending to reside in a different country altogether. These techniques not only allow gamers to save money on their purchases, it also permits them to play games that are not yet released in their region.

While Steam has tried many ways (including account bans) to prevent abuse of its gifting system, they have failed to accomplish the desired result. However, the company has now come up with a system that may very well put an end to the practice of people buying games from other regions. As per the new restrictions unveiled by Steam, gift cards purchased from a specific region or country could only be redeemed within that region (or country). Additionally, once a game has been purchased from a specific country or region, it could be played only from that region. This means that even if someone buys a game by pretending to be in a different country through an IP changing service, he/she would need access to IPs from that region to be able to play the game. Since access to a high speed proxy or VPN service requires a monthly subscription, many gamers are likely to stop using IP changing solutions in order to save money on Steam.

With these restrictions, Steam hopes to put an end to menace of the abuse of its regional restrictions and gifting system. It remains to be seen whether gamers adopt to these new rules or come up with even more ingenious ways to beat the system.

August 1, 2015

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