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PC Games (Games)

Valve Responds to Steam Territory Deactivations 258

Posted by Zonk
from the read-the-fine-print dept.
An anonymous reader passed us a link to Shack News, which is reporting on official commentary from Doug Lombardi of Valve about the international Orange Box code problem we talked about yesterday. According to Lombardi, the folks who bought copies of the game from a Thai gaming store are pretty much out of luck. They'll need to buy a local copy to have a working version. That said, they should be able to replace the old code with a new one. "'Some of these users have subsequently purchased a legal copy after realizing the issue and were having difficulty removing the illegitimate keys from their Steam accounts,' added Lombardi. 'Anyone having this problem should contact Steam Support to have the Thai key removed from their Steam account.'"
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Valve Responds to Steam Territory Deactivations

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  • Re:Consumer rights (Score:5, Insightful)

    by arth1 (260657) on Friday October 26, 2007 @09:54PM (#21136437) Homepage Journal
    Or people who move? I would have hated it if, when I moved from Europe to the US a few years ago, all my games stopped working.
  • Re:Consumer rights (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 26, 2007 @10:13PM (#21136579)

    You know that EULA stands for End User License AGREEMENT, right?
    The law still supersedes an agreement. This is why in most contracts there will be some wording along the lines of "If any part of this contract is illegal or unenforceable, the rest of the contract remains in effect".
  • Re:Consumer rights (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Kurous (865517) on Friday October 26, 2007 @10:17PM (#21136601)
    I've bought games while living overseas, and find this a bit disconcerting by Valve. Yes, most (if not all) of the purchasers were trying to save save some money, but the case where the person who is in Thailand and then returns to there home is a legitimate circumstance. However, they are going to run into these problems when moving to this distribution model. I don't know if you can keep selling boxed versions (where this would not be a problem) and distribute electronically and expect to enforce something like this.
  • Re:Shitty Company (Score:3, Insightful)

    by yuriks (1089091) on Friday October 26, 2007 @10:32PM (#21136715)
    Only console companies have been doing this same game region lock-out for YEARS. I don't see you complaining about that.
  • Re:Shitty Company (Score:3, Insightful)

    by alexgieg (948359) <alexgieg@gmail.com> on Friday October 26, 2007 @10:46PM (#21136801) Homepage

    Only console companies have been doing this same game region lock-out for YEARS. I don't see you complaining about that.
    What do you think mod-chip are for? Sure, most of them allow you to also play pirated games, but there are mod-chips out there that remove only the region lock-out while keeping the anti-piracy "features" intact. And yes, people pay for that. The complaining is right there. Exactly one complaint for each dollar spent on mod-chips and their installation.
  • Re:Consumer rights (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rm999 (775449) on Friday October 26, 2007 @10:46PM (#21136803)
    "In any event, this sounds like a lawsuit waiting to happen. And the bad publicity is likely to cost Valve/Steam far more than any additional revenue they make from selling the game twice."

    I know what I'm about to say is not popular on sites like this, but I think it stands to reason. Double selling is not the point from their perspective. This is a form of arbitrage, which they consider wrong. I know people disagree, but I can see the frustration on their end.

    They basically have two choices - sell games for cheaper in poorer countries, or not sell them at all in these countries. I commend them for choosing the first option; people in less wealthy countries deserve entertainment too (without the Windows 3rd world crippling mentality). Arbitrage threatens to cut their main sense of revenue: American gamers who can afford American prices. Obviously they could choose the latter option I mentioned above, but this is lose-lose. The Thai can't play Valve games, and Valve loses a legitimate source of revenue.
  • Re:Moneygrab (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Fallingcow (213461) on Friday October 26, 2007 @10:57PM (#21136865) Homepage
    How many industries outside of gaming, movies, and the like, can get away with offering products in one country at a price that is significantly different from that in others (i.e. no more difference than the cost of shipping from one country to the other)?
  • Re:Consumer rights (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JohnFluxx (413620) on Friday October 26, 2007 @11:20PM (#21136975)
    I do get your point, and I do indeed also see their point of view.

    However, they are allowed to hire programmers from the poorest countries, in order to reduce their costs. So why aren't I allowed to buy from the poorest countries to reduce _my_ costs?

    It seems like a double standard.
  • Remove Key? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MrSquishy (916581) on Friday October 26, 2007 @11:26PM (#21137001)
    Why cant you have two keys?

    If you have legally purchased a Thai key, why do they want to take it away from you? What happens if you move to Thailand? Can you call Valve up and ask for your key back?
  • by Dracil (732975) on Friday October 26, 2007 @11:28PM (#21137007)
    Can't believe people are actually trying to justify Valve's decision
  • by JonTurner (178845) on Friday October 26, 2007 @11:42PM (#21137073) Journal

    Then again, I could imagine it would be a reasonable compromise for Valve to check you actually played the game for an extended period of time in Russia...

    Maybe I'm old-fashioned, but I imagine it's reasonable for Valve to quick fucking with products people paid good money for and breaking things via remote control just because they're greedy. So a product moved across a national border or an ocean or whatever -- big deal. Happens all the time and that's the nature of the modern world. The copy from India or Taiwan or whatever was legal and I'm sure Valve would prefer that it stay far, far away from the more profitable countries (so as to not illustrate the price disparity) but that's not reality.

    Put simply: The customer bought something from an authorized vendor; there was an exchange of good for payment. Give them their game, Valve, or return them their money. Anything less makes you a common thief. End of story.
  • by JonTurner (178845) on Friday October 26, 2007 @11:50PM (#21137111) Journal
    Just curious. Are you also against reimportation of 'cheap' medicines from foreign markets back to the US?

    You have said that Americans should pay more because they can. What about wealthy foreigners in otherwise poor countries. Are they taking advantage of the local market forces? Should poor Americans get a price break because they are penalized by being in an expensive market?

    Now (and here's where it gets interesting...) what if the product isn't software? Pharmaceutical companies make most their profits in the US, to subsidize the socialized ("free") medicine in the rest of the world. But notice they get mighty pissed off if someone reimports their medicines from somewhere "cheap" back to the States. You see, they're still getting paid, but not as much as they want and the business plan depends on these artificial boundaries, even though the world is becoming less divided and more accessable thanks to technology. IOW, their business model is becoming antiquated. So they must either fight for more artificial boundary enforcement, or raise the prices elsewhere+lower them in USA.

    Your thoughts?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 27, 2007 @12:15AM (#21137251)
    Not only is that a lot of hogwash, but even any of that were the case, it wouldn't be Valve's business and wouldn't make the copies themselves "illegitimate" in any way, shape, or form.
  • by HBI (604924) <kparadine&gmail,com> on Saturday October 27, 2007 @02:13AM (#21137871) Homepage Journal
    I get shit from people for refusing to do business with Valve as long as they use Steam.

    This is the reason why.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 27, 2007 @02:26AM (#21137911)
    To do this then, maybe they should just keep the price the same in all countries, if it is worth US$50, then convert that to any other country and sell it for that price. Oh wait, now people in countries with lower average incomes see the converted price as much higher then what you see it as. Now Valve can either sell the game everywhere at the price and screw over countries whose citizens don't make as much on average, or they can region-lock those countries and offer them a lower price on the game. It seems fair to me, if you are from here, you can get it for cheaper, but can't sell our products off for more money. If you live in the US or Europe, you pay a fair amount for someone who lives there.
  • by Zeussy (868062) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @02:53AM (#21137993) Homepage
    I agree with the fact that they should of got a copy of the orange box they ordered, but seeing that they ordered a Thai version, they should of got the local Thai version, with all the wonder of the Thai language.

    That makes sense to me, they buy a Thai copy of the game, so they get it in Thai, if they want an english version of the game, then they should of brought it from an english region.
  • by WNight (23683) * on Saturday October 27, 2007 @03:11AM (#21138043) Homepage
    There's no law that lets you forbid importation of products. That's why it's done with DRM and illegal actions like remotely disabling software.

    I'm sure you'll find that the staff of Valve is wearing imported clothes, taking advantage of cheaper things overseas. They probably shop at Walmart.

    So what's the problem? We both like shopping overseas? Oh... I see. In one case they benefit, in the other I do.

    They're hypocrits, willing to take advantage of globalization to increase their own profits, but they sabotage the product to prevent you from doing the same.

    What's the value of having more money if everything you want to buy is proportionally more expensive?

    So you're right, they should keep the price the same in all countries. Or they should at least stop their illegal actions of sabotaging products of those who import.

    Anything less is criminal.
  • by AHumbleOpinion (546848) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @03:28AM (#21138097) Homepage
    So a product moved across a national border or an ocean or whatever -- big deal. Happens all the time and that's the nature of the modern world. The copy from India or Taiwan or whatever was legal and I'm sure Valve would prefer that it stay far, far away from the more profitable countries (so as to not illustrate the price disparity) but that's not reality.

    No. Valve sold lower value products at lower prices. Why were they lower valued? Because they were region locked to Thailand and Russia. Higher valued products that work in the US and EU are sold at higher prices.

    Put simply: The customer bought something from an authorized vendor; there was an exchange of good for payment. Give them their game, Valve, or return them their money. Anything less makes you a common thief. End of story.

    No. The deal finders mistook a lower valued version for a higher valued version. Or perhaps the deal finders were scammed by middlemen who misrepresented the products. These deal finders now understand the phrase "a deal that is too good to be true". When you engage in such deals you should not be surprised to find that you have bought stolen or counterfeit goods. Yes, counterfeit. If the locked Russian/Thai version was sold to US/EU customers then it is counterfeit, a misrepresentation, much like a 2.4 GHz CPU that is remarked as a 3.0 GHz CPU.
  • Re:Consumer rights (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WNight (23683) * on Saturday October 27, 2007 @03:31AM (#21138111) Homepage
    No. Breaking the law and sabotaging legally purchased products make Valve into some sort of monster. Telling people that they're SOL and will need to buy another whole copy, that's monstrous.

    I imagine the houses of Valve developers, and their office, and filled with things that weren't made in the USA. Should we "remotely disable" (ie, break in and smash with a hammer) all of these products? It would help local industries, and it would make Valve pay what they can afford. No cheap overseas pencils, only the expensive made in the USA kind. No overseas RAM in their computers, etc...

    That'd be fair. They want to disable our products to push a buy-locally message. So they should start.

    And really, $15 is a lot more to a poor teenage gamer than to the owners of Valve. They'd need to lose $15,000 or more to feel empathy. Wouldn't it be funny if their cars were all disabled and they had to buy new ones. Like a joke. Except with justice attached.
  • by bigstrat2003 (1058574) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @04:00AM (#21138215)

    No. The deal finders mistook a lower valued version for a higher valued version. Or perhaps the deal finders were scammed by middlemen who misrepresented the products. These deal finders now understand the phrase "a deal that is too good to be true". When you engage in such deals you should not be surprised to find that you have bought stolen or counterfeit goods. Yes, counterfeit. If the locked Russian/Thai version was sold to US/EU customers then it is counterfeit, a misrepresentation, much like a 2.4 GHz CPU that is remarked as a 3.0 GHz CPU.
    No. Valve is screwing over paying customers, plain and simple. They may not like it that people are buying from another market, but that's tough shit. I agree with what the other poster said, if they didn't want it to cross national borders, just make the local copies only in that language. If the servers (for TF2) are segregated by languages (say, like WoW does for their different markets), certainly it shouldn't play on the US servers. But not letting people play the game that they paid for is completely asinine, even if it goes against the intent Valve had. I guess they should do a better job of making sure that the games aren't appealing to people in other countries if they don't want those people to buy it.

    I was a reasonably happy Valve customer. I had some misgivings about Steam, but nonetheless, I own copies of CS:S and Portal, and enjoy the hell out of both of them. Now, though, I swear before every deity and authority figure in existence that Valve isn't going to get another cent out of me, because of how they've chosen to treat customers. In fact, I intend to do my best to pirate all their games from now on out of spite. Valve deserves to crash and burn spectacularly.

  • by arth1 (260657) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @08:13AM (#21139131) Homepage Journal

    I agree with the fact that they should of got a copy of the orange box they ordered, but seeing that they ordered a Thai version, they should of got the local Thai version, with all the wonder of the Thai language.

    That makes sense to me, they buy a Thai copy of the game, so they get it in Thai, if they want an english version of the game, then they should of brought it from an english region.

    That's narrow-minded thinking. What about the million or so native English speakers who live in Thailand? Should they not be allowed to buy and play The Orange Box?

    The marketplace and the population is now global, and trying to erect artificial geographical boundaries to keep Them away from Us is xenophobic, and trying to prevent free trade is both futile and in most cases illegal. Some countries and populations are slower at accepting the new reality, is all.
  • Re:Consumer rights (Score:2, Insightful)

    by fyrewulff (702920) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @08:29AM (#21139191)
    Except that the boxed versions you can buy are all distributed by EA..
  • Re:Consumer rights (Score:2, Insightful)

    by roguetrick (1147853) <kazer@brIIIigands.org minus threevowels> on Saturday October 27, 2007 @09:20AM (#21139477) Homepage Journal
    Thus the customer should seek action against the merchant.
  • by JonTurner (178845) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @01:17PM (#21140903) Journal
    >>It would be slightly unfair to make the game 45 US dollars everywhere, because in some countries people don't make that much money in a week

    So how are they affording a DX8 video card (or better) and a PC with enough RAM and a CPU powerful enough to run this game? That argument doesn't add up.
  • Re:Consumer rights (Score:3, Insightful)

    by thomas.galvin (551471) <slashdot@thomasA ... inus threevowels> on Saturday October 27, 2007 @01:22PM (#21140939) Homepage

    If their records show the game was never played in its original country of purchase, then I think they'd have decent grounds to decline your request.
    Why? If they offer you a certain service, say the ability to play a certain game or watch a movie, why does it matter to them where you make use of that service? If I buy a bottle of soda, does the store care where I drink it? If I buy a book, does the publisher care where I read it? So why is a video game any different?
  • by WNight (23683) * on Sunday October 28, 2007 @02:46AM (#21146117) Homepage
    Pay what the game companies are asking for

    Provide what the law requires you to.

    We know why they're selling overseas, it's to reach a larger market. And we get why they want to have different prices. But none of that requires anyone else to play along. It's like razor companies with their famous loss-leader marketing model of overcharging for refills. Nothing stops a consumer from buying the cheap kit with handle every time. You take your chances in business, making products appeal to various people.

    I run a computer consulting company and it'd be really handy if everyone would agree not to hire any overseas competitors. That'd keep me from having to compete on prices. Does this obligate you to please me? If not, why am I obligated to put up with their actually illegal actions to enforce their cushier profits?

    The product as sold would run perfectly without Steam's DRM. It's perfectly legal to buy and to own the product, so Steam's DRM is preventing the use of something which is legal to own and use.

    This is all too common. Someone gets an idea for how to make money that isn't supported by the law, but they expect everyone else to bend over backwards to protect them, usually while they do something underhanded like disable keys and force people to buy new copies. This is the idea that wanting to make a profit entitles you to pass your own laws, break existing ones, and defraud people.

    How about them pursuing this in the proper fashion? If they think that importing the games is actionable (and they'll be sorely mistaken, but it's their dime) they should sue people who do it. Put the question to the courts. Get a court order before they try to remotely disable the software.

    As is, they're simply refusing to provide the product they've advertised. It might be a 'for Thailand' version, but the law doesn't allow them to keep it there. They can't do this. They're breaking the law.

    Do you understand?

    This is simple. It's not about liking Valve, giving a shit about how long they spent working on the game or anything else. It's *all* about them illegally terminating a legal product.

I judge a religion as being good or bad based on whether its adherents become better people as a result of practicing it. - Joe Mullally, computer salesman

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