Steam is pissing me off

Are you familiar with Valve and their Steam software service?  Are you a user of their service?  If so, here’s some information you may want to know.  Because Steam is really starting to piss me off.

In general, Steam is a decent way to buy games online.  It had a horrible start with the launch of Half-Life 2 and the industry had all but written Steam off at that point.  But Valve was able to fix the problems and make Steam into what it is today.  Normally, I would be generally satisfied with that.

Unfortunately though it seems that Steam has felt the need to use region restrictions on their retail software just like the movie industry does with DVDs.  This doesn’t affect most people who only buy their games and software locally but for those of us who travel or order from online retailers, this can be a serious issue.

While I was living in Hong Kong I purchased Valve’s The Orange Box because I wanted to play Portal and Team Fortress 2.  So I took a train to a software store and picked up a copy.  Nowhere on the box or packaging does it say it’s region restricted and everything is in English like I would expect back home in the States.  Excellent.  So I install it and play and all is well.

Now I’m back home and this past weekend I decided that I wanted to play Team Fortress 2 again.  I’ve had to get a new PC since my previous one died after the move so I needed to reinstall.  So what happens?  When I try and install any of the games in The Orange Box, it pops up a message that says that the CD Key I used is region restricted and unusable in my territory.  WTF?

I tried changing my time zone and my location in Steam but nothing helped.  I guess it must key off of IP addresses since it is an online service.  So I contacted their support for help.  The answer I get?  That they can delete the region restricted key from my account so that I may be so priveleged as to purchase their software again.  Uhhh…  NO.

They referred me to a very unhelpful FAQ entry on their site that says that the message I got was from region or territory restriction and that I should return my software to the retailer.  I’m not sure if these guys at Steam have ever had to buy and return a piece of software but it’s not possible.  Stores do not allow returns of opened software.  Idiots.

And that unhelpful FAQ entry also states that all region restricted retail boxes are clearly marked that they are restricted.  I still have the case and everything that came in it.  There is not a damn thing on it that says restricted in any way.  So my next step is to scan in the sleeve from my retail box and send it to them.

I’m not asking for much.  They recently sold The Orange Box on sale for $9.99 USD.  I’ve already invested almost $50 USD into buying this software so I don’t see why they can’t just give me a new key code without the restrictions that are not listed on what I bought.

I’ll let everyone know what happens.  Because if this doesn’t end with my getting what I paid for, then I will figure out every SEO trick just to see what $9.99 USD worth of BAD PUBLICITY can really do.  Which should be interesting since I work at a PR and communications company.

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7 Responses to “Steam is pissing me off”

  1. Insomnic says:

    Not to be a damper – but they gave you a solution (though not a great one) of providing proof of purchase and they’ll give you a key (hopefully). I don’t know if it’s quite time for the pitchforks :)

    Not a great customer service experience though that’s for sure.

  2. cybrpunk says:

    Actually they are telling me that they absolutely DO NOT give new keys and that its not their problem.

  3. yoshi says:

    yeah that’s pretty lame. i don’t see the big deal in giving a new cd key. i mean there is obviously a reason. silly steam.

    i’ll help spread the word of how crappy they are if you need help.

  4. Dominique says:

    I guess the frustration came from two things. The region restrictions is very obvious BUT to deal with stupid and not helpful plus no sense customer service people also make it worse. However, those big companies always have a full set of useless guidelines to refer their customers, too… I feel your pain.

  5. Insomnic says:

    Ah… it sounded like they would give you a new key if you sent them your UPC scan. Sucky Suck.

  6. Dabbu21 says:

    I love Steam, it makes my life easier to play games on both my PC and laptop. I can buy them once, not have to keep track of the game disks, and then I can install the game on which ever device I’m using, PC or Laptop, or both. I only paid $25 or my Orange box during the release christmas special, and it was worth it. Lots of fun games inside it. And recently the Left 4 Dead game is a great FPS.

    I think your dealing with the first tier helpdesk grunts, who follow the guidebook for crappy customer service. You need to just keep at Valve and try to get escalated to a higher authority in the company. They should give you some way to convert from one region code to another with out having to re-purchase the software.

  7. […] a week ago I posted that I was having trouble with Valve and Steam support in fixing a region coding problem with their software called The Orange Box that I […]

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