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Steam Has A Problem With How People Have Been Buying Games

From trying to convince publishers to not sell PC games for cheaper on any other storefront to trying to fight against VPN loopholes, Valve is constantly trying to maximize profits in every way it can. In its latest move, reported by Steam Database on Twitter, Valve has limited how frequently Steam users can change the home region linked to their account. Now, users can only update the region of their accounts once every three months — and there's a pretty good reason why.

In the past, some Steam customers have used VPNs to switch account regions, allowing them to purchase games from areas of the world where they go for cheaper prices. Valve began combatting this practice last year, as reported by TheGamer, when they company made it so purchases required a local bank account to go through. 

However, that initial policy change didn't fully prevent users from still abusing the system, and so Valve has now added the three month limit on users being able to change the region listed in their accounts.

The dominance of Steam

As pointed out by TheGamer, while there are financial incentives for Valve to prevent users from getting games for cheaper in different regions, a move like this can also prevent the inflation of game prices in other parts of the world. Typically, if a game is cheaper in a different region, it's because that lower price is what the market there can afford. If customers from another region come in and purchase those cheaper game in droves, publishers may raise prices in that region, preventing people who actually live there from being able to afford games.

In a recent example reported by VG24/7, "Horizon Zero Dawn" launched on Steam 539 Pesos in Argentina, the equivalent of about $7 USD. VPN users drove up the cost to 2100 Pesos. This is unfair to the people of Argentina, who subsequently had to pay almost four times the market price.

Steam has been criticized in the past for its business practices, like taking a 30% cut of game sales when the Epic Games Store takes closer to 12%. However, in this case, Valve appears to be making changes to Steam in order to protect customers in lower-income regions, rather than just trying to protect its own bottom line. Only time will tell if this latest policy change will be able to close the loopholes that some Steam customers have been exploiting for years.