Valve, Steam and Regional Discrimination
If you’ve been a PC gamer in the past decade, you’re no doubt aware of the prevalence of Steam - the most popular, and arguably best digital distribution platform for gaming on PC.
For Americans, Valve and Steam are known for low prices, great content, a hugely populated platform and unrivalled access to a huge number of games.
For people in other territories, though, particularly in Asia-Pacific, the situation is not so bright.
Valve regularly overcharges for games in some regions outside the USA, while massively undercharging for them in other regions. Examples of overcharging include games like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, which currently sits at a sale price of $9.99 - but is listed at $29.99 in Australia, for absolutely no reason whatsoever.
Examples of undercharging can be found in the company’s ban on gifting from certain regions, due to the fact that most titles are listed at a fraction of their Western cost in Eastern regions. The given reason for this is income inequality, but of course Valve applies this reasoning only selectively at best, outright gouging regions like Australia, NZ etc. That reason is simply a lie.
Now, things decidedly take a turn for the worse, with Valve outright removing access to a sizeable portion of the Steam game library for Asia-Pacific users.
Games like Kingdom Come: Deliverance, Distance, Hyper Light Drifter, Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes, X-morph, System Shock, Carmageddon, Observer, Assetto Corsa, They Are Billions, Nickervision titles - all have been unceremoniously blocked by Valve and Steam, with no explanation offered, or given upon request.
[some examples of how games currently appear to Australian Steam users]
Several of the games that have been removed have been controversial at some point in their history, but others, such as Hyper Light Drifter, have not.
I have reached out to Valve for any kind of answer for this, and mentioned I am penning an article on the topic - but so far, they have expressed no interest in even explaining the situation or supposed problem to A-P users, opting instead to remain silent - the ever-towering middle finger of an unlisted price serving as the company’s position instead.
At this point, continuing to buy games on Steam from the Asia-Pacific region seems like a losing game (pun unintended).
UPDATE: As of 6:47AM GMT+11, KC:D has been re-listed in Australia.
UPDATE 2: As of 8:37AM, Distance and Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes have been re-listed.