In response to the disparity of game prices between various countries, Valve has started region locking titles available on its Steam digital platform.
First noticed by users of the NeoGAF gaming forums, a compiled list of regions affected have since been posted on Reddit. The list is largely comprised of Asian, Pacific-Island, and South American countries.
Region-locking is a process in which games bought in one area are not playable by systems located in other parts of the world. While many platforms and consoles have moved to region-free software, the decision by Valve has likely been a response to crashing markets in certain regions, most noticeably Russia.
Under their previous region-free system, Steam users could purchase games using foreign applications at a much cheaper price than they would buy it in their home region. A user in the United States, for example, could buy a brand new AAA title for a fraction of the full price by taking advantage of the Russian Steam app or gifting system and the falling value of the Ruble.
With foreign economies feeling the effects of global markets, especially the economic sanctions against Russia for its invasion of the Crimea region of Ukraine, Valve is joining a list of distribution platforms that is tightening its restrictions against players taking advantage of lower market values. Apple also announced yesterday changes to its online store due to the current instability of the Russian Ruble.
Valve’s decision comes before its annual Holiday Sale, one of the largest events in the gaming community and a time in which players have traditionally traded games using differing currencies. Valve has not yet stated if it will end region locking in the future.