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PC Games (Games) Businesses

Valve Locking Out Gamers Who Buy Orange Box Internationally 665

Posted by Zonk
from the steaming-up-your-users dept.
Via Opposable Thumbs, a post on the Consumerist site notes that some enterprising gamers who bought the Orange Box in a territory different than the one they lived (to save a few bucks) have now found themselves unable to play the game. "One user, Todd, explains that thousands of crafty North American gamers looking for a deal have 'bought the product (and hence, the serial numbers) at well known international game stores' at a significant markdown. Activation of the purchased titles went off without a hitch. However, Valve apparently has taken issue with the region-specificity of some international versions and has begun locking out accounts of those living in North America, but owning international serial numbers with the message that the purchased game is in the 'incorrect territory.'" Worse, folks who tried to 'make it right' by buying a local copy have found they're basically SOL. I've been a big fan of the Steam concept since it launched, but this is the sort of thing you need to communicate to your users before you sting them.
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Valve Locking Out Gamers Who Buy Orange Box Internationally

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  • Silly users (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 25, 2007 @05:39PM (#21120719)
    Buying what you want, where you want, when you want at the lowest price you can find is for corporations. Why do users keep thinking globalization should benefit them. It's really silly.
    • by Shivetya (243324) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @05:41PM (#21120761) Homepage Journal
      to protect deals with distributors.

      Reading some of the various "deal" forums it amazes me what people will go through to save a few dollars, yet turn around and brag about their $300 cases, water cooling, and thousand dollars worth of video cards.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 25, 2007 @05:57PM (#21120977)
        So what? Globalization is the antithesis of shutting off markets to foreign participants. "Deals with distributors" just means that the product markets remain closed while the source markets are opened up.
        • F Globalization! (Score:5, Interesting)

          by gerf (532474) <edtgerf@gmail.com> on Thursday October 25, 2007 @08:16PM (#21122729) Journal

          I'm an American, currently working in Mexico for 2 months. I recently bought a brand new laptop with a 8600M GT 512MB video card, and I've been looking for games to buy and play, since I haven't played many games since BF1942 and Counter-Strike.

          I've been seriously considering purchasing the Orange Box, and even signed up with Steam (they can check this fact against my unobscured email). I even watch some forum threads about TF2 and Portal, and played the Portal flash game. But, with a possible disconnection, they've just lost a sale unless they can absolutely prove otherwise. Ya hear that Valve? LOST SALE RIGHT HERE BUDDY.

          • by anlprb (130123) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @08:42PM (#21122959)
            I am well paid and I have lots of disposable income. Guess who lost a nice chunk of that revenue stream? They haven't had me as a customer since steam. I have the first version of Half-Life that doesn't require steam. That was where they lost me. Treat me like an equal in the transaction, we can talk. Treat me like a thief at every turn, I walk away. And they won't know how many of my friends and relatives I have convinced that way as well. Word of mouth is wonderful advertising, or a horrible fire you can't stop.
            • by kentrel (526003) on Friday October 26, 2007 @02:48AM (#21125551) Journal
              I am very poorly paid and have ZERO disposable income, but I promise, I'll treat you like a king. Deal? :)
      • by rk (6314) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @06:07PM (#21121119) Journal

        I don't follow your argument. If you want an overclocking, nuclear-powered, death dealing gamer rig, that doesn't mean you still can't be frugal. Frugal is not the same thing as being cheap. If a person wants the functionality of a $1000 video card, has the means to procure it, but it aware they can do it for less money, they usually will. If a game is $50 in their local market and $30 online overseas, why is it so terrible of them to do that?

        You as the end consumer are NOT bound by agreements between other people. The place where you bought it from may have sold something to you in contravention of their contracts with THEIR partners, but that's not your problem... or it SHOULDN'T be your problem... and if law and/or reality contradict that, then the law and/or reality is in error and needs fixing.

        • by NormalVisual (565491) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @11:46PM (#21124579)
          You as the end consumer are NOT bound by agreements between other people. The place where you bought it from may have sold something to you in contravention of their contracts with THEIR partners, but that's not your problem... or it SHOULDN'T be your problem... and if law and/or reality contradict that, then the law and/or reality is in error and needs fixing.

          Wish it had worked that way with me and VMware. Last year, I bought a shrinkwrapped copy of Workstation 5.5 from an Amazon vendor, registered with VMware, etc., and life was good for a while. It's a great piece of software, and probably the single most useful package I own. Fast forward a bit to the 6.0 release. I participated in the pre-release beta, and was really looking forward to picking up the retail package. VMware offered 6.0 as a $100 upgrade from 5.x, so of course I jumped at that. However, I found I was unable to register on the site with my 5.x key and when I contacted VMware about it, they said they'd had some kind of issue with the vendor, and had invalidated all of his licenses instead of pursuing whatever direct legal action would have been appropriate. They refused to work with me *at all* on the upgrade pricing, even though I had a legitimate shrink-wrapped package and by their own admission, a legitimate license key. To add insult to injury, they insinuated that the problem was my fault because I didn't check the VMware web site before purchasing to make sure the vendor was a VMware Authorized Reseller.

          It'll be a cold day in hell before I do business with VMware again, and I've recommended Xen to more than a couple of folks since then.
      • by Dunbal (464142) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @06:11PM (#21121161)
        to protect deals with distributors.

        protect
        protect

              Once again, near obsolete middlemen decide it's far easier to shit on everyone else's rights rather than face the fact that there's no more room in this world for brick and mortar retail of "digital" goods. Certainly not at the prices THEY want to charge.

              Protectionism usually works AGAINST the masses, in favor of a small group. Why should I care about a retailer who wants to charge me $5 more for something I can buy on the internet, have flown halfway around the world and delivered to my door? Not to mention the fuel to drive to his store, the lack of parking, etc. Why should we protect WASTEFUL businesses? Either the retailer drops his price, or goes out of business. Period.

              I also find it amazing that in the UK software (and other computer stuff) will retail for the same price as in the US - only in POUNDS. So it's double the price nowadays. Sheesh, I guess CD's are really really expensive to burn in the UK! There's no excuse for this, it's just greed. Valve should not be protecting greed. But then again, it's a racket. Just like the music industry. /rant
        • by cubic6 (650758) <tom@nosPAM.losthalo.org> on Thursday October 25, 2007 @06:29PM (#21121395) Homepage
          "I also find it amazing that in the UK software (and other computer stuff) will retail for the same price as in the US - only in POUNDS. So it's double the price nowadays. Sheesh, I guess CD's are really really expensive to burn in the UK! There's no excuse for this, it's just greed. Valve should not be protecting greed. But then again, it's a racket. Just like the music industry. /rant"

          Considering that this whole situation is because Valve IS adjusting their prices for the local markets, you really have no idea what you're talking about.

          They have retail distributions agreements in Russia and Thailand to sell boxed products at competitive local prices, rather than trying to get people who might earn $300 USD a month to shell out $50 USD for a game. In order to stop people from buying Russian copies en masse for, say, $10 USD a piece and selling the keys online for $20 USD each, they lock the keys to the geographic region in which they're sold. I can't say I've seen the boxes myself since I live in the US, but I've read that they SAY on the box that they won't play outside of country X. Of course, they export the keys anyways and sell them to stupid people who think they're getting a great deal, and that's why we have this retarded article claiming that Orange Box is region locked everywhere.

          Don't give me that shit about "I didn't know it was imported" either. If it seems too good to be true, it PROBABLY IS. The only fault I have with Valve for this is that they should let people unregister so they can register the copies they bought afterwards.
          • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 25, 2007 @06:53PM (#21121719)
            I understand what you're saying, but why is it fair for companies to get cheap labor from other countries when it isn't fair for us to get cheap video games from other countries?

            It all amounts to the same thing, and if it is allowed in one context, it should be allowed in the other. Conversely, if companies insist on being able to do price fixing like this, it shouldn't be legal for them to go over to China and pay somebody 10 dollars a day to do the work when there are Americans over here willing to do it (although the American will of course want a higher wage).
            • by Eivind (15695) <eivindorama@gmail.com> on Friday October 26, 2007 @06:37AM (#21126745) Homepage
              Legally this is pretty obvious: It's artificial barriers to trade.

              "region coding" of any sort is not legitimate in a free market economy. The entire *point* of a free market is to benefit society by improving efficiency, efficiency improves since buyers will choose the best supplier for their need, and suppliers will have to make competitive offers, or else not sell anything.

              Transporting something from a place where it's cheap, and to a place where it's worth more and sell it there is a fundamental function of trade. We'd all be a lot worse off if that wasn't possible.

              Frankly, I don't see why the US govt or the EU hasn't cracked down on this bullshit a long time ago (at the very least when the DVD-standard was launched with artificial barriers to trade baked-in)
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              I understand what you're saying, but why is it fair for companies to get cheap labor from other countries when it isn't fair for us to get cheap video games from other countries?

              Because companies have pushed to be able to have this privilege, while end-buyers (aka consumers) have not banded together to get law changed in their favour.
          • by RonnyJ (651856) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @07:09PM (#21121913)
            Your point is that in Russia and Thailand they sell the products at significantly lower prices due to lower average incomes.

            His point is that, in the UK, prices are significantly higher, even though incomes are not drastically different than those in the US.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by evilandi (2800)
              Er... I'm a UK Steam user, and I can assure you that the prices on Steam are in US Dollars- US$49.99 for The Orange Box, IIRC.

              That equates to around 25 quid. The retail box, in high street shops, has a "recommended retail price" (RRP) of £35 (US$70), but almost all shops, and even Amazon UK, have got it discounted to £24.99 . Given that I'll get a shiny box to put on my O'Reilly Wall, plus hopefully some manuals, I'll get the real box as opposed to the virtual one (I don't imagine I'll ever actu
          • by Marful (861873) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @07:15PM (#21122005)
            The problem is, that apparently to Valve, the product is worth $10 USD in wherever, but some how $50 USD in the US.

            By selling the product at $10USD in a foreign market, it is shown that the product still generates profit (or they wouldn't sell it that low).


            So the issue becomes that of "How much can they rape the local market for?"

            Violating Regional Licensing or whatever cannot possibly "hurt" a company, if the company would lose money selling it in the US at $10 a copy, there is no way they are going to sell it for $10 a copy in Russia. At worst the company won't make as much profit as they want. Either way they still make some profit.
            • by Obfuscant (592200) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @07:52PM (#21122473)
              By selling the product at $10USD in a foreign market, it is shown that the product still generates profit (or they wouldn't sell it that low).

              I have no intention of defending this company for shutting off users who bought their product from an international dealer, because that is what "international" means. They can sell internationally.

              However, your statement isn't in general true. There are, for many products, tariffs and import duties that make it more expensive to sell in certain markets, and likewise less expensive in others. I was once almost charged $25 per case for "camera cases" by an over-zealous customs agent because they were aluminum, and that is the import duty for "aluminum camera cases". It was an incredible hour out of my life, hearing that "cardboard" cases were duty free (so he wouldn't charge me duty on the boxes that the cameras themselves were shipped in). I finally got through to him that these were not "camera cases" as in "put my expensive Nikon camera in a carrying case", but "metal housings" for the OEM camera circuit boards that were in the same shipment. Sheesh.

              Also, the distributor's costs in another country may be lower (lower wages for the wage slaves, etc.) so the distributor may mark the wholesale price up less.

              And finally, the differing regulations regarding radio emissions (as one example) may make it much more costly to certify a piece of equipment in the US than in some other country, and the other country may get a slightly different, less expensive version of a product because it doesn't have to be as well shielded. Or it may have different/limited features due to differing laws.

              Violating Regional Licensing or whatever cannot possibly "hurt" a company, if the company would lose money selling it in the US at $10 a copy, there is no way they are going to sell it for $10 a copy in Russia. At worst the company won't make as much profit as they want.

              It would hurt the local distributor, who may have had to purchase in lots of 100 to get his discount, when an overseas dealer who signed a contract to sell only in Europe undercuts his price in the US. Or a foreign (to the US) dealer sells radio equipment that has different features, and the user expects the US repair facilities to be able to fix it when it breaks, under warranty. And in the latter case, the manufacturer may have legal issues even though his dealer is the one importing non-FCC type-accepted products.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by LingNoi (1066278)
            Expect your argument falls apart because I worked in Thailand for $633.2 a month. $300 on rent, $50 on transport, $50 for the visa, $100 on food (or something like that). In other words after the landlord and the Government got their dos there wasn't much left for me which meant I was living month-to-month.

            So it's not okay to ban my account when I go back home becauase:

            a) When I was there that's all I could afford
            b) I was living there not shipping it to another country.

            Over 25 Million foreigners live in Tha
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Opportunist (166417)
          Still, shopping at some UK store (don't wanna advertise) is cheaper than buying the games on mainland Europe. We pay 50-60 Euros for a game locally (about 60-70 USD), while I pay about 40 Euros in the UK.

          So why should I go to the store if I can get a game delivered to me cheaper? Yes, it's "small scale globalisation", but at least if someone tries to cut that supply line, I can sue.
      • by Opportunist (166417) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @06:33PM (#21121459)
        Of course it's territory protection. But, bluntly, why is this legal? I can't go to a company and force them to keep my job here instead of outsourcing it to China. Why is it legal for companies to benefit from a global market but not for the customer?

        And yes, what's wrong with buying abroad to save money and spend that money on something else? That's like saying that companies do something wrong when they produce dirt cheap in the far east and brag that they had another record profit year and could seriously increase the benefits for their shareholders.
        • by Torvaun (1040898) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @08:54PM (#21123071)
          Because you can't afford a politician. That's why.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MrSteveSD (801820)
      Absolutely. The same goes for foreign competition. When you or I are threatened by cheaper workers overseas/outsourcing, we are told that it's tough and it's a harsh business reality etc. Yet when the same companies are threatened by foreign competition, they go complaining to the government, who very often take action to protect them and use our money to do it!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Buying what you want, where you want, when you want at the lowest price you can find is for corporations. Why do users keep thinking globalization should benefit them. It's really silly.
      <sarcasm>
      Silly you. People don't travel, only pirates and cheap-asses do.
      </sarcasm>

      Seriously, I am no longer going to buy HL2 (I have a legal version of HL1), because I am currently working in France for the moment and fear that if I buy a copy they will lock me out as soon as I get back to the states. Steam is a
  • And this... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bigstrat2003 (1058574) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @05:40PM (#21120731)
    ...is why I didn't like the idea of Steam the first time I heard of it (not this specifically, but the idea of things like this happening). If I bought the game, it's mine, jackasses. They have no right to be disabling people's games after taking their money.
    • Re:And this... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by setagllib (753300) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @05:55PM (#21120961)
      Sure they do, they specify it in the EULA. What do you expect from proprietary software? When will you people learn? You seriously think closed source is for keeping secrets? It's for keeping control.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by bigstrat2003 (1058574)
        Get off it. I own countless pieces of software which are closed-source, and not one of them (well, except Windows, I'll grant you that one, but we don't judge most companies by Microsoft's actions) can be taken away from me at a moment's notice. Not only are many EULA's supposedly unenforcable (I am neither a lawyer, nor caring enough to research properly, so this is just repeating slashdot hearsay), but they would have to PHYSICALLY COME TO MY HOUSE AND REMOVE THE PROGRAM. If they can do that with impunity
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Facetious (710885)
          Control is not just about shutting off, as per TFS, but is about much more. As an example, what control do you have over "features" in your software? Are features there to help you do what you want, or are they there to be listed as a bullet point on the software box so the software company in question can sell you an "upgrade."

          I occasionally use a certain closed-source GIS application that has constant version compatibility problems. The company line is "Upgrade." "Buy more." Isn't that about contr
          • So... it's bad that when a company adds new features to a product, they want to be compensated for it? I dunno, I feel like their time implementing and testing that new feature is generally worth something. If I don't think it's worth the money they ask, I don't pay for it, it's simple.

            Hell, I have the same amount of control over the features in open-source software, because I'm usually pretty uninclined to add something in myself, so again, I'm at the mercy of someone else to put in a feature I want... e

        • They fail some critical parts of contract law:

          1) Contracts must happen before the deal. Contracts cannot be ex post facto. This is why you sign contracts before you buy a house or car, and why people talk about prenuptial agreements. If it doesn't happen before the exchange, it isn't valid. All terms must be agreed upon up front by both parties, you can't tack them on later. Since EULAs don't come up until after you bought the software, they aren't enforceable.

          2) Along those lines contracts must involve an
    • They have no right (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      In my opinion, they also have no right to deny users their right of first sale.

      They also have no right to require an active Internet connection in order for users to play offline, single player games.

      They also have no right to make the game "phone home" every time the user wants to play.

      They also have no right to force-push updates to single player offline games every time the user wants to play.

      But that hasn't stopped them.

      It has just stopped me from buying their games.
      • by yincrash (854885)
        You can play steam games w/o a network connection.
        • by sqlrob (173498)
          I have no Windows boxes allowed direct access to internet locations, and never will.

          How do I install and play a steam game?

          • You can't. You can actually play Steam games without an internet connection, though, you just have to have one at some point, to activate the game. After the game is activated, my understanding is that you never need an internet connection to play that game again.
      • In my opinion, they also have no right to deny users their right of first sale.

        Can't say people are protected, unless taiwan has these kind of laws..and if they did they'd likely not be $20 cheaper.

        They also have no right to require an active Internet connection in order for users to play offline, single player games.

        They have the right to just as you have the right to go elsewhere. Personally I find the practice annoying, but I don't buy many SP games so I'm not really effected.

        They also have no right to m

    • While I also take offense at this sort of action, I try not to get too worked up about it.

      When I buy a game over steam, I do not consider myself to have been buying a service, "renting" the game for an infinite period (unless banned of course), as seems to be such a popular definition for online services related to entertainment content. I consider myself to have the moral right to access the games I buy, and in the case that I am ever locked out I will simply make a new account for buying games, and torren
    • ...is why I didn't like the idea of Steam the first time I heard of it (not this specifically, but the idea of things like this happening).
      Any game you play online with centralized servers can do the same thing, not just Steam.

      But you're right about single player.
  • by Interl0per (1045948) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @05:40PM (#21120741)
    Glad I wasn't swayed by all the glowing reviews.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by TargetBoy (322020)
      The Orange Box actually had me thinking about backing down from my stance against Steam. I'm glad I didn't spend the $50 after this stunt. Valve won't be getting any of my money.
  • by Gothic_Walrus (692125) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @05:41PM (#21120757) Journal
    Worse, folks who tried to 'make it right' by buying a local copy have found they're basically SOL.

    "Basically?" I've been following this on the CAG forums and if you try to enter another serial after you've been locked out, Steam won't accept it because you "already own the game." Since there's no way to remove the other serial, it means that you're not basically SOL...you're just SOL, plain and simple.
    • Wow. You basicly have to ask permission from the company before you can use their products. It is not a matter of "if" this would happen, but more a matter of "when." If you give big companies powers like they, they WILL eventually abuse them.

      I would describe myself as more of a casual gamer, but crap like this (and what happened with Bioshock) makes me want to completely avoid PC gaming entirely and stick just with consoles. My Gamecube will happily play any game I stick into it, without requiring an internet connection.

      I recently re-played my old copy of Fallout (great game, BTW). I would have been completely pissed if I couldn't play it because of some sort of hare-braned activation scheme. What happens if you want to pull out your copy of Orange Box and play it ten years from now? Will you be able to?
      • by AndrewM1 (648443) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @07:53PM (#21122489)

        My Gamecube will happily play any game I stick into it

        What? Not only will the game cube not play any game purchased outside your "region", Nintendo was the first video game manufacturer [wikipedia.org] to include such technology. Games purchased in one of the four regions (Asia, North America, Europe and Oceania, China) can't be used outside that region. Of course, you know this in advance (or should, at least) and they can't remotely kill your game, so it's better than Steam, but not by much...
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by The MAZZTer (911996)

        Let's see... Microsoft (PC and X-box) has X-box Live, which they make you pay extra for services Steam offers for free... and they can ban you for being bad, cutting off your online gaming. Or so they say you're being bad. That guy that got a leaked Halo 3 got banned. You can buy and download games, like Steam users can.

        Sony has their Playstation online stuff... Home and all. I don't know too much about that but I bet they're going for similar capabilities as Xbox Live.

        Nintendo is going online with

    • by Toridas (742267) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @06:27PM (#21121355)
      You can contact support and they can take the unwanted version out of your account. They can also give you refunds if you bought a wrong version. The German version of TF2 is censored; the blood is removed and the gibs (chucks of body parts flying around when people get blown up) have been replaced with rubber ducks, unicycles, springs, gears, and hamburgers. People in Germany who imported the US version to try to play the uncensored version found that it wouldn't work. If they contacted support they got a refund and a reminder: "Please note in the future that Steam purchases, per the Steam Subscriber Agreement, are not refundable - this refund was issued as a one-time customer service gesture."
  • Game portability (Score:5, Interesting)

    by HTH NE1 (675604) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @05:45PM (#21120825)
    So with Steam, one of its ballyhooed features is that I can get on someone else's Internet-connected computer, install and sign into Steam, and have it download my games and let me play them there... but now they say I can only do that so long as I haven't left my home country?

    "In Russia, we don't have American Express. We have Russian Express: `Don't Leave Home'." -- Yakov Smirnov
    • by Boogaroo (604901)
      That, and for people who move? I've had friends who've moved here from Europe. This is the example of DVD Region locking taken to the most extreme possible.
      You've screwed, remotely, after the purchase, with no easy option to fix it other than reinstalling and futzing around with registry settings.
      • by corsec67 (627446)
        But, what happens when the Europeans buy some American DVDs?
        Are they supposed to change that stuff for each disc?

        I solved that problem by getting a DVD player that is region free, doesn't do disabled user operations, upscales over HDMI without HDCP, ...
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by LiquidCoooled (634315)
        I wonder what would happen if you took your laptop with you on a round the world trip?
        If you connect via wifi your IP will report you being in X country and will this prevent you from playing overnight in the hotels?

        This stinks, if the account is valid, why the fuck are people buying it again - I know I wouldn't.
  • by mattbee (17533) <matthew@bytemark.co.uk> on Thursday October 25, 2007 @05:54PM (#21120937) Homepage
    If you didn't get what you believe you paid for, ask the vendor for a refund. If the vendor refuses or ignores you, ask your credit card company to charge it back to them, and they can pick up the tab for their DRM silliness. I happen to love Steam, but not more than my rights as a consumer. Steam is working very nicely for me now, but I know my rights and if Valve take away my games (which they can certainly do if they feel like it), I am within my rights to charge back everything I've paid them in the last two years, and there's nothing they can do about it. This is the only way to tell companies that their DRM isn't working - be on your guard and don't let vendors forget their responsibilities to play fair.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by RonnyJ (651856)
      But the companies that supply the boxed version from have nothing to do with Valve directly. Charging back would hurt those companies, not Valve/Steam, in fact it probably helps Steam as it makes the boxed version a less attractive proposition for both buyers and sellers.

      I'm really disappointed in Valve here, but then I guess I shouldn't be surprised.
      • by RonnyJ (651856)
        Just replying to my own comment here, as it seems as if these companies might be selling these products despite not being allowed to sell them to other countries - if this is the case, then obviously it's not as clearcut as in my comment above.
    • by feepness (543479)

      I am within my rights to charge back everything I've paid them in the last two years, and there's nothing they can do about it.
      Actually you can generally only get refunds within sixty days.
  • Should we accept region coding now for all software? Is this good for the consumer?
    It just encourages people to pirate the software. No more steam!
  • I bought the Xbox version specifically to avoid Steam. Glad I did.
  • by cubic6 (650758) <tom@nosPAM.losthalo.org> on Thursday October 25, 2007 @06:04PM (#21121071) Homepage
    After digging around on the Steam forums a bit, I'd like to clear up some misconceptions that people seem to be getting.

    1) Orange Box purchased through Steam (online) is NOT REGION LOCKED IN ANY WAY.

    2) Codes from retail boxes in America, the EU and most other places are NOT REGION LOCKED.

    3) Codes from Thailand and Russia ARE REGION LOCKED. This is done because Steam games are sold in those countries at a tiny fraction of the US retail cost. The boxes are marked (in the appropriate language) that they keys will not work in other countries.

    In other words, people are getting "burned" because they bought keys from companies that buy the Thai/Russian retail boxes, opens them up, and sell you the codes for several times what they paid, which is still cheaper than the rest of the world pays. They companies know that the keys don't work anywhere else, so the people are getting basically scammed by the companies selling them keys, not Valve.

    They're not military servicemen living overseas or families on vacation in Europe, they're cheapasses who fall for a scam because they're too eager to get a "great deal".
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Shados (741919)
      Good. Now if everyone would just read that post, the discussion could end. But stupid articles like that hurt companies bottom line without valid reasons. Its just fud. Funny, considering how much slashdotters bitch and moan about fud.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Steam games are sold in those countries at a tiny fraction of the US retail cost.

      So the fuck what? Chinese labor costs a tiny fraction of the money that you would have to pay a US worker. That doesn't stop anyone from buying manual labor where it's cheap and selling products at insane markups at home. If you put that genie back into the bottle, we can talk about not buying your products where we want and using them somewhere else. Can't have it both ways.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by arkhan_jg (618674)
      1) Orange Box purchased through Steam (online) is NOT REGION LOCKED IN ANY WAY.

      Unless you try to buy an out of region version, then it prevents you buying it. Specifically, steam will only allow you to buy games with a card with an address that your IP is in. so, if I'm from the UK, and decide to buy the US version of steam games because it's cheaper, or released earlier, I'm denied for not having a US credit card even if my machine and I are physically in the US at the time. This wasn't needed for the oran
  • by Tackhead (54550) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @06:06PM (#21121109)
    Ah, the Steam/Valve Reality Distortion Field rears its head again.

    It doesn't matter how evil the DRM, when Valve does it, it's OK!

    More than a decade after MPAA invented region-coded DVDs explicitly to protect deals with distributors, it's still an affront to us. But when Valve does it, hey, it's "just something they put something in to protect deals with distributors".

    Product activation and phone-homeware is just as bad an idea when it's called "Steam" as when it's called "Windows Genuine Advantage".

    Cozy deals to fuck over the consumers in favor of artificial segregation of distribution channels are just as defective by design whether they're called "Steam" as when they were called "Region-coded DVDs".

    The Steam may be delicious and moist, but it's still a lie.

    Steam is no triumph.
    I'm making a note here - EPIC FAIL.
    It's hard to overstate dissatisfaction...

    Valve's DRM scheme,
    It does what it must, because it can.
    For the good of none of us, (except the ones who wear suits.)
    But there's no use crying over software that breaks
    You just keep on paying 'till you run out of cake
    And the damage gets done, and the DRM's won
    For the people who are selling lies.

  • by Wooloomooloo (902011) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @06:18PM (#21121253)
    No cake for you!
  • Paid more (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Sascha J. (803853)
    I actually wonder if they'll also lock you out if you pay more for the game in fact. I ordered the US-import of orange box to circumvent the german censoring (no gibs 'n' blood, they're so cruel!) and also (even more than to circumvent censorship) to have a "original" Half-Life experience with English dialogues, texts, etc. I did not rip off any money and the US dealers got their normal share of money - I'm paying about 10 Euros more for this imported version than I would pay for the German version in Germ
  • And now it starts. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by anlprb (130123) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @08:34PM (#21122889)
    Remember all of the Xbox Live players out there who love digital distribution? Well, here it is. You do not OWN ANYTHING. You can try to pry my CDs/DVDs/BlueRay Discs out of my cold dead hands, but that would be theft. Delete a bit on my game to not make it play, that is protecting your revenue stream. Why is the digital download so damned attractive? You don't get box art, you don't get a manual. You don't get the right to play your game on a non-networked machine. Now, you know why volunteering your computer to be part of a corporation's distribution network is a bad idea. Hmm, let's give away my bandwidth, HDD space and processing power to Company A when what do I get in return, disabled products. Ohh, and this is just the beginning. It will only get worse. This just proves, I am not a tinfoil hat theorist, it is true, today, not someday, it is here. Welcome to not owning anything.

              This is why I play games on the consoles, you buy the game, you play the game. I want imported games, buy imported console, hook up to TV, play games. No one can come into my house and take my games away from me. The reason I stopped playing PC games was I was always treated like a darned criminal, especially when I paid for the game. The cracked games don't have the nagging that the retail versions do. Now, they are playing this game. This is just lovely. When did I stop being the person who put food on your table and became just another game citizen to keep on taxing with no accountability to? I stopped playing Valve games after steam came out. You could see the writing on the wall, this was going to end badly, just a matter of time.
  • by LilGuy (150110) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @09:38PM (#21123509)
    I somehow read that as "Valve Locking Out Gamers Who Buy Orange Box Intentionally. That threw me for a loop.
  • by AbRASiON (589899) * on Thursday October 25, 2007 @09:46PM (#21123581) Journal
    http://forums.whirlpool.net.au/forum-replies.cfm?t=222993&p=43 [whirlpool.net.au]

    Whirpool is an aussie forum for discussing all kinds of things over here.
    Anyhow an online store 'just over the pond' in Thailand called Zest has been selling a lot of games lately, they often open the product, give you the CDkey via email and dispose of the rest, or you can pay to have the whole lot shipped.
    Sounds shady but well apparently it works and very few cases of people having CD key issues.

    It's hard to know where to stand on this, I can certainly see why Valve have done it. In order to stop piracy in dodgy countries like China and Thailand they simply drop the price, way way low, if I recall Microsoft were thinking (or did?) the same thing with Windows at one point..?
    Technically it's still a valid key, however it was intended for that country.

    All that being said Organge box (stupid bloody name) is cheap as chips right now. Despite being a tightass consumer, when you think about 45$ US for the preorder is like 55$ AUD, that's fantastic value in my mind. (yes, I purchased on steam)

    However! other companies besides Valve like EA are also blocking these online sales and they DON'T release with nice prices like Valve. You want Crysis? 100$ AUD (or 91$ US) and we speak the same damn language, it's not like they need to re-author it (color/colour jokes aside) or make a 220V power supply (software here, not hardware)
    I don't agree with those prices at all.

    I frequent US-centric forums all the time and it kills me to hear of the bargains you guys get as consumers.
    Price match this, rebate that, sale this, 2 for one on that.
    I mean you get a brand new game, sure it's 50 or 60$ US but within 2 weeks a smart consumer can have it for 30$ US (40$ AUD)
    Over here, the new stuff starts at 120/110/100$ AUD (109/100/91$ US!) and may drop if we're lucky to 70$ US in a month or two - what the fuck people what the fuck.

    So ultimately, this isn't cool for some tightasses but really go complain to EA about blocking regional games from Thailand, because those cockhats DON'T offer a cheap good download service like Valve yet they are doing the same thing.

  • by eagl (86459) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @10:33PM (#21123975) Journal
    What about military members? We are assigned all over the world for up to years at a time. What about the poor guy who buys a US license and is stationed in Korea or England? Or is in Korea, buys a copy in Korea, and then gets stationed back in the US?

    What about guys who deploy elsewhere?

    Region dependency is just as stupid as most other DRM restrictions. Maybe even worse, since they're explicitly disallowing people from using legit originals. That sucks. Bad move.

    I was going to buy the orange box but I'm in the military and might have to move or deploy before Valve fixes their rectal-cranium inversion on this issue. No way in hell will I buy something that could be disabled just because I move.

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