Posts Tagged ‘region restrictions’

Steam is pissing me off

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

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.