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Valve Responds to Steam Territory Deactivations

Zonk posted about 7 years ago | from the read-the-fine-print dept.

PC Games (Games) 258

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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Consumer rights (5, Interesting)

stryyker (573921) | about 7 years ago | (#21136235)

What about those that were and are in regions of the world where importing software is allowed like Australia?

Re:Consumer rights (5, Funny)

Derek Loev (1050412) | about 7 years ago | (#21136325)

Isn't Australia where they put people that import software as a punishment?

Re:Consumer rights (0)

Clay Pigeon -TPF-VS- (624050) | about 7 years ago | (#21136825)

This is what happens when a developer becomes a distrubor. They slowly stop caring about their gamers and making the highest quality product, and start to think primarily of profits. They even rush to market games that are not finished. They then abandon their development. It was promised that dod:S would eventually include vehicle combat (which it doesn't years after it was released). TF2 lacks basic class limit cvars, which have been in pretty much all tf games, as well as all of valves' DoD offerings, and tf2 also lacks the old %h %l %i variables from tfc).

Re:Consumer rights (5, Insightful)

arth1 (260657) | about 7 years ago | (#21136437)

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 (2, Interesting)

darkitecture (627408) | about 7 years ago | (#21136535)

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.

If you'd lived in Europe and went to the US, you wouldn't have been affected. There's no regional restriction for copies sold in any of the European countries (except Russia, I think).

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 before you legitimately moved to the US. If it showed you played it for a few weeks in Russia and now you want to play it in the US, then I would agree that they should allow it. 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.

But we're just talking about Russia here. If you bought yours in the UK or Germany or whatever, you could play that in the US without any problems.

Re:Consumer rights (1, Troll)

Kratisto (1080113) | about 7 years ago | (#21136597)

In Soviet Russia, games play you. Damnit. And I promised the last time I made a Soviet Russia joke it would be the last...

Re:Consumer rights (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21136839)

In Soviet Russia, the jokes make you.

Remove Key? (4, Insightful)

MrSquishy (916581) | about 7 years ago | (#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?

remote control disablement = stealing (4, Insightful)

JonTurner (178845) | about 7 years ago | (#21137073)

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.

Re:remote control disablement = stealing (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21137121)

So, I guess you could say in this case it's not copyright infringement, it's actually theft!

Re:remote control disablement = stealing (2, Insightful)

HBI (604924) | about 7 years ago | (#21137871)

I get shit from people for refusing to do business with Valve as long as they use Steam.

This is the reason why.

Re:remote control disablement = stealing (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:remote control disablement = stealing (5, Insightful)

WNight (23683) | about 7 years ago | (#21138043)

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.

Re:remote control disablement = stealing (4, Insightful)

Zeussy (868062) | about 7 years ago | (#21137993)

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.

Re:remote control disablement = stealing (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 7 years ago | (#21138517)

I somehow doubt that they will create a Thai version of the game. I can see it for Windows, but can you imagine the size of the market? I doubt that the average game company would even consider making a version for every language there is.

Low value version is region locked, that's OK (2, Insightful)

AHumbleOpinion (546848) | about 7 years ago | (#21138097)

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:Low value version is region locked, that's OK (2, Insightful)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | about 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:Low value version is region locked, that's OK (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 7 years ago | (#21138531)

Can you explain to me what makes the product cheaper in Russia or Thailand? Does it have fewer levels, or worse graphics, or what is the big deal that causes the game to be cheaper there?

Re:Consumer rights (1)

urcreepyneighbor (1171755) | about 7 years ago | (#21137197)

There's no regional restriction for copies sold in any of the European countries (except Russia, I think).

Russia isn't part of Europe.

Unless I've slipped into a parallel universe where the Reds won the Cold War?

Re:Consumer rights (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21137673)

Yeah, it's called America, and you're a moron. Thanks for playing.

Re:Consumer rights (1)

drcagn (715012) | about 7 years ago | (#21138037)

Russia spans multiple continents--it's located in both eastern Europe and Asia. It was also in North America until they sold Alaska to the US.

Re:Consumer rights (1)

pyrros (324803) | about 7 years ago | (#21138177)

A large part of Russia is in Europe. They're just not in the EU.

How naive (1)

MMaestro (585010) | about 7 years ago | (#21137537)

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 before you legitimately moved to the US. If it showed you played it for a few weeks in Russia and now you want to play it in the US, then I would agree that they should allow it. 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.

You've never worked in the service industry have you? If you seriously think that a corporation will take the time and effort to check the account logs of where, when and for long you've used their service, you're woefully naive. Internet connections from U.S. military bases in foreign countries run through a labyrinth of routers, proxies and firewalls, you think Joe Average working the phones at Valve is going to make the distinction? Simply raising that issue alone would raise hell in the media. "U.S. soldier fighting overseas robbed by U.S. corporation!"

Re:Consumer rights (1)

WCLPeter (202497) | about 7 years ago | (#21137741)

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 before you legitimately moved to the US.


I have a store bought copy of the Half Life 1: Anthology disc. I've never been able to use it. Nowhere on the box did it say, "Requires Steam to be run." So you can imagine my surprise when I tried to install the game and it tried to install Steam instead. I PURCHASED the fracking thing; I have the shiny pressed disc in my hands. Yet they have the audacity to tell me that I need *THEIR* permission to play it whenever I want to.

I tried to take it back to store, but like most places they would only do exchanges on opened software.

So now I'm stuck with this game I have never played and can't return. In effect, Valve has stolen my money while at the same time treating me like a criminal for purchasing their product.

It doesn't matter where I bought it, or what I paid for it. If I exchange my money with a company for one of their products, I own that product and have the right to use it as I deem fit. I should never need to ask for permission from the company every single time I want to use the product I have paid for.

I don't call Mercedes for permission to take my Smart out for groceries, I will not call Valve for permission every time I want to play my legally purchased game.

Re:Consumer rights (1)

Skreems (598317) | about 7 years ago | (#21138057)

Nowhere on the box did it say, "Requires Steam to be run." So you can imagine my surprise when I tried to install the game and it tried to install Steam instead. I PURCHASED the fracking thing; I have the shiny pressed disc in my hands. Yet they have the audacity to tell me that I need *THEIR* permission to play it whenever I want to.

I tried to take it back to store, but like most places they would only do exchanges on opened software.
In this case, the law is actually on the side of the consumer. If the product is mis-represented in the store and there are aspects of it which you can't reasonably know about until after the purchase, they're required to take the product back. If they won't, it's quite easy and legal to reverse the charge on your credit card (provided you used one to make the purchase in the first place).

Re:Consumer rights (1)

dougmc (70836) | about 7 years ago | (#21136487)

You mean like the US? There was no law violated here (by the customers -- Valve might be another matter) that I'm aware of, just some arbitrary policy that Valve probably buried deep in some EULA or something.


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. Valve wants us to believe that we should like Steam, but abusing it like this is not going to help there.

Re:Consumer rights (0, Flamebait)

darkitecture (627408) | about 7 years ago | (#21136499)

just some arbitrary policy that Valve probably buried deep in some EULA or something.

You know that EULA stands for End User License AGREEMENT, right?

Not their fault if you didn't read what you agreed to.

Re:Consumer rights (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#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 (1)

VGPowerlord (621254) | about 7 years ago | (#21136957)

You mean the agreement that you can't read until you're actually installing the product because it's not printed on the box?

Re:Consumer rights (2, Informative)

dougmc (70836) | about 7 years ago | (#21137563)

You mean the agreement that you can't read until you're actually installing the product because it's not printed on the box?
Yes, I think that's the exact agreement he's referring to.


Though my (American) Orange Box says `Please see http://www.steampowered.com/agreement [steampowered.com] to view the SSA prior to purchase'. (SSA = Steam Subscriber Agreement). Excuse me while I go home and look this URL up, then come back to the store to buy it if the EULA meets with my agreement ...

Reading through that, I see nothing that lets them cut you off just because you bought your game from the `wrong' country. But then again, it is 5165 words (titled `Welcome to Steam' no less!) so maybe I missed something. The average reader's speed is 200-250 words per minute. Assuming 250 wpm, that's 21 minutes just reading their Steam agreement -- and this is complicated reading that people generally aren't familiar with, so they probably have to slow down (and maybe look some legal terms up) if they really want to understand it.

I guess the EULA would have to be on the web -- there's not enough room for the EULA, even if we use the entire outside of the box and every piece of paper inside. (Granted, there's only one piece of paper inside ...)

Of course, if you download your game from the Internet and use a Steam crack, they can't turn it off ...

It seems to me that Valve is trying to punish their paying customers because they didn't pay *enough*. And that sounds like a mistake on their part. If they want everybody to pay the same price, don't sell the game for less in other countries ...

Re:Consumer rights (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21138055)

Though my (American) Orange Box says `Please see http://www.steampowered.com/agreement [steampowered.com] to view the SSA prior to purchase'. (SSA = Steam Subscriber Agreement). Excuse me while I go home and look this URL up, then come back to the store to buy it if the EULA meets with my agreement ...
Take it home, read the SSA, return the still-sealed box for a full refund?

Nonsense! (1)

Lost+Found (844289) | about 7 years ago | (#21137795)

Nonsense! An EULA can be called an "Agreement" all day long and that doesn't make it hold water. There are two big things at play here - one, the need for a meeting of the minds, and two, the assumed rights of a consumer who buys something. EULAs don't have the force of binding contracts because you don't sign them before you fork over the money, and you don't sign them before the store hands you the box.

Re:Consumer rights (4, Insightful)

rm999 (775449) | about 7 years ago | (#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:Consumer rights (5, Insightful)

JohnFluxx (413620) | about 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:Consumer rights (2, Informative)

pushing-robot (1037830) | about 7 years ago | (#21137699)

I'm pretty sure Valve doesn't operate any coding sweatshops in Malaysia.

They may hire people from foreign countries on H1B visas, but they actually come to the US, live here, earn, spend, and pay taxes.

Likewise, you're free to travel to Thailand, live there, and buy discounted games.

I just don't get all the hatred for Valve. With their development costs and retailer markups, they'd go bankrupt if they sold the Orange Box here for $15. No one in Thailand could afford it for $50. Does charging poor people less and rich people more make Valve some sort of monster?

Re:Consumer rights (5, Insightful)

WNight (23683) | about 7 years ago | (#21138111)

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.

Re:Consumer rights (1)

gonebursar (1113685) | about 7 years ago | (#21137043)

I can see your point. The thing is, though, why should I care about their bottom line, or if someone else can or can't buy a game they produce? Mine is a privileged perspective, I know, and a self-centred one, but it irks me no end that companies are allowed to make use of the benefits of globalisation by shopping around for the cheapest supplier(s) while forbidding me from doing the same just because they're a step up the production chain.

I'm in Australia, and our dollar is doing rather well against yours. It's gotten to the point now where I can buy games from the 'Sates and pay less for them, including shipping by airmail, than I could buying them from a retail outlet over here. Some of the savings are quite substantial - The Orange Box, for example, retails for $99AU here, yet I can buy it from Amazon for $52 AU. Is it wrong for me to buy these things from the US? I mean, I'm an Australian gamer who can afford to pay Australian prices, right? What about DVDs? They're cheaper from Amazon than they are here, and, what's more, many of the items for sale by Amazon have not been released here, nor do I think they will ever be. Should I not purchase seasons 3 and 4 of Teen Titans?

Re:Consumer rights (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21137851)

Should I not purchase seasons 3 and 4 of Teen Titans?

No, you shouldn't.

speaking of protected markets: pharmaceuticals (2, Insightful)

JonTurner (178845) | about 7 years ago | (#21137111)

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?

Re:speaking of protected markets: pharmaceuticals (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21137551)

Pharmaceutical companies make most their profits in the US, to subsidize the socialized ("free") medicine in the rest of the world.
That's funny, I thought the rest of the world paid indirectly for their own drugs plus a shitload of red tape via their socialized governments' ass-raping taxes, but apparently the drugs companies just give their products away in other countries? Wow! France here I come!

Re:speaking of protected markets: pharmaceuticals (1)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | about 7 years ago | (#21138473)

This may be true, in the loosest of senses, but don't underestimate the buying power of a customer that literally represents the population of an entire country. An organisation representing 80M people can cut a pretty sweet deal, relatively speaking, with Big Pharma.

Yes, I would be glad to see a great deal of the red tape evaporate. But the thought of being seriously ill in America would fill me with dread, because unless you are loaded, it's a one-way ticket to poverty.

America spends more per capita on it's healthcare than any other nation, yet doesn't even have coverage for everyone. Something tells me that you are getting a much heavier "ass-raping" than other nations.

Re:speaking of protected markets: pharmaceuticals (1)

rm999 (775449) | about 7 years ago | (#21137717)

Funny, I was actually going to mention drugs, but decided not to because it's slightly off topic. It actually is a very good point, though. Creating different prices for drugs in different countries has the same purpose as software (there are slight differences -for one thing, if you don't provide cheap AIDS drugs to Africans, people will die).

But, yes, I am against Americans arbitraging drugs prices. What a lot of people don't know is that First World drug prices - especially in America - are high because we subsidize drugs for the rest of the world. Developing those AIDS cocktails that a lot of Africans use cost tens of billions of dollars in the USA. When an American pays for health insurance, he is indirectly paying for this R&D. There was an Economist article recently criticizing moderately wealthy countries, like Brazil, who were ignoring patents on drugs by offering generics. They made a good point - someone has to pay for the drugs that continues to increase the standard of living through the world. The drug industry has sort of become communist - the rich pay for the poor. This is a great thing IMO.

Re:Consumer rights (1)

VGPowerlord (621254) | about 7 years ago | (#21137173)

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.

"American gamers who can afford American prices."
You have that logic reversed. American gamers are the people who can afford American game prices. The US is not a single economic unit, particularly not since the Wal-mart effect [latimes.com] began. Wal-mart has single-handedly killed the lower-middle class, bumping them down to the lower class, and the effect will most likely continue until the upper-middle class as we know it no longer exists. This means no fancy things like video game systems or computers.

Re:Consumer rights (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21137193)

First, please consider that you have left the entertainment industries of poorer countries out of your reasoning. Valve's dumping means more dollars are leaving the local economy of poorer countries. It also means fewer companies are able to compete, which is worse for consumers, both locally and globally and represents a missed export opportunity for the local country.

Second, please consider that arbitrage is a natural consequence of dumping. If Valve is frustrated, it is only because they cannot have their cake and eat it too.

Re:Consumer rights (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21137809)

Just because I "can" afford "American" prices doesn't mean I should be forced at gunpoint to pay it, especially if it's cheaper elsewhere.

If you disagree, then any company doing business in the US should be forced to pay American wages across the board. That would end outsourcing faster than any plague ever spread, and suits me just fine. If you want equality, that would cause it.

While we're at it, put a 100% tax on products from any country that doesn't have the minimal environmental laws as exist in the US, and we can put an end to the "Made in China" lead recalls, as "Made in China" would most likely only be stamped on the soon to be impounded chemical/heavy metal impregnated clothes of Chinese immigrants.

Re:Consumer rights (1)

darkitecture (627408) | about 7 years ago | (#21136491)

What about those that were and are in regions of the world where importing software is allowed like Australia?

I'm assuming you still retain the right to use the Thai version whenever you find yourself in Thailand.

Fact is, the code you have is not for use in Australia - that's not Valve's problem. I would say it's either your problem for not reading the fine print when you purchased the code on a website or, more likely, it's your legitimate beef with the website from where you purchased the code for not telling you there were region restrictions. Then again, caveat emptor I guess whenever you decide to buy from sketchy online distributors.

Don't get me wrong, I understand where you're coming from - you just wanted to save a few bucks on your Orange Box. But this is the risk you run when you can't justify spending that extra twenty bucks or whatever on a legit version from a local retailer. Sometimes it comes back and bites you in the ass and you end up paying even more. Thems the breaks.

Re:Consumer rights (0)

Sparr0 (451780) | about 7 years ago | (#21136503)

There were no territory restrictions when the game was purchased. The cross-territory access was blocked AFTER they bought the game, installed it, and had been playing.

Re:Consumer rights (3, Insightful)

Kurous (865517) | about 7 years ago | (#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:Consumer rights (5, Informative)

Silverlancer (786390) | about 7 years ago | (#21136823)

Incorrect. It said ON THE GAME BOX of all restricted versions of the game that there was territory restriction.

Re:Consumer rights (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21137519)

Incorrect. It said ON THE GAME BOX of all restricted versions of the game that there was territory restriction.
... in Thai?

Re:Consumer rights (1)

Clay Pigeon -TPF-VS- (624050) | about 7 years ago | (#21136843)

I smell a waiver/estoppel argument in the making for equitable relief against Valve. No, IANAL.

Re:Consumer rights (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | about 7 years ago | (#21138125)

Fact is, the code you have is not for use in Australia - that's not Valve's problem.

WTF?! Of course it's Valve's problem -- Valve is the one that turned it off!

Fact is, Valve is stealing (by depriving of use) the product that people legitimately bought. Period, end of story. Screw civil lawsuits; Valve should be criminally prosecuted for this!

Want another fact? Importation is legal. Valve may not like it, but it's true. And although Valve has the technical ability to turn off people's legal imported property, it sure as fucking Hell doesn't have the right to do so!

Re:Consumer rights (2, Informative)

FoolsGold (1139759) | about 7 years ago | (#21136603)

For what it's worth, the exchange rates mean virtually all games on Steam are cheaper in Australia than anywhere you could find the retail versions for. It's not that big a deal here... unless you're on dial-up.

Re:Consumer rights (0)

morari (1080535) | about 7 years ago | (#21136663)

Then they're out of luck?

Steam was always a bad idea. It is obtrusive and annoying. It monitors your activity and adds a needless step in between me clicking and the game starting. The very idea that some douche bag can flip a switch and decide that I can no longer play the games that I purchased is ridiculous. I like having the actual media anyway. At least then there's a chance that I may be able to get the game working in several years once Steam no longer exists, making for a sticky situation for everyone that just "conveniently" downloads instead.

Shitty Company (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21136269)

But what do you expect when you have that fat, ugly, stupid slug Jabba(aka Gabe) working there.

Half-Life 2 Plot Summary

Wow, it's the 'famous' Gordon Freeman you have to run/drive/boat to someplace else
Drive/boat/run to next place shooting stuff on the way through a series of staged ambushes
Arrive a new place
Wow, it's the 'famous' Gordon Freeman you have to run/drive/boat to someplace else
Drive/boat/run to next place shooting stuff on the way through a series of staged ambushes
Arrive a new place
Wow, it's the 'famous' Gordon Freeman you have to run/drive/boat to someplace else
Drive/boat/run to next place shooting stuff on the way through a series of staged ambushes
Arrive a new place
Wow, it's the 'famous' Gordon Freeman you have to run/drive/boat to someplace else
Drive/boat/run to next place shooting stuff on the way through a series of staged ambushes
Arrive a new place
Wow, it's the 'famous' Gordon Freeman you have to run/drive/boat to someplace else
Drive/boat/run to next place shooting stuff on the way through a series of staged ambushes
Arrive a new place ...

Your incompetent asses are going to survive in the big league console market. You're a relic of the dying pc gaming market.

PS. And stop fucking crying about not being able to handle graphics system that don't involve 'x86/x86 video cards/directx' retards.

Re:Shitty Company (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21136475)

Like your beloved Halo series is any better?

Re:Shitty Company (3, Insightful)

yuriks (1089091) | about 7 years ago | (#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 (2, Insightful)

alexgieg (948359) | about 7 years ago | (#21136801)

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:Shitty Company (2, Interesting)

p0tat03 (985078) | about 7 years ago | (#21137059)

They do complain, but the difference is that it's made plenty clear (generally anyway) that imported games will not play on your domestic console. This is in stark contrast to the Thai copies of Orange Box, which worked JUST FINE, but were LATER deactivated by Valve. So there's the anger that something that was reasonably legitimate has been banned, and owners were affected *retroactively*

Re:Shitty Company (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21137961)

Importing a console from the game's origin country (usually Japan) allows you to play said game. Importing a PC from Thailand does not allow you to play Thai Orange Box.

Re:Shitty Company (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | about 7 years ago | (#21138145)

Only console companies have been doing this same game region lock-out for YEARS. I don't see you complaining about that.

Then you're not looking hard enough, because some of us, at least, are complaining. Hell, I haven't owned a console since the SNES, mostly for this reason (along with the persecution of modchip makers, licensing requirements for games, and Nintendo's infamous historic censorship). And if I'd been old enough to understand these issues back then, I probably wouldn't even have an SNES either.

Re:Shitty Company (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21138029)

Ah, a PS3 fanboy, obviously. Congratulations - you're an idiot.

That said, you have a point about HL2's story.

Doug can inhale the steam from my piping hot semen (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21136331)

n/t

That's not steam, it's smoke (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21136449)

You have AIDS.

Typos (0, Flamebait)

mqduck (232646) | about 7 years ago | (#21136653)

"Some of these users have subsequently purchased a SECOND legal copy after realizing the issue and were STILL having difficulty" Fixed that for Doug.

Only news is that you can update your key (1)

davetpa (1109467) | about 7 years ago | (#21136659)

So this basically confirms what we've already read: that you've lost the cash you spent on a foreign key. The only significant part is that they're providing an avenue to replace your invalid key with a valid one.

The differences between the releases of the same software in different countries will always exist... think about what Westerners would say if more knew that Korean WoW players got to keep their beta characters! So, sorry you lost your cash. Hard lesson learned.

Re:Only news is that you can update your key (1)

Necroman (61604) | about 7 years ago | (#21136767)

Things are run differently in different countries.

As fro Korea and WoW, that isn't completed unexpected. Korea got WoW 2 months after it arived in the states. I'm guessing the beta for Korea started after it went live in the US, meaning the game was basically release candidate quality already, they were just testing localization. I don't think Korean players being able to keep their WoW beta characters is that big of a deal.

Moneygrab (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21136669)

You know, I just have to point out that if they were selling copies of the game in Thailand for cheap enough that its ultimately cheaper to import it, they should probably just offer the game for the cheaper price here.

Of course, it doesnt work that way. They know they can soak the game hungry and comparitivly rich american public for wads of cash, so they sell it here at an excessive markup, and in poorer nations at a price thats more realistic for that location. This is pretty much the only reason anyone has for regional locks such as this.

Greedy bastages.

Re:Moneygrab (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21136791)

I think it's the opposite: they're offering a lower price to people in countries that couldn't reasonably afford it at American price levels given their lower purchasing parity.

Re:Moneygrab (2, Insightful)

Fallingcow (213461) | about 7 years ago | (#21136865)

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:Moneygrab (5, Interesting)

Town Czar (1180407) | about 7 years ago | (#21137041)

Drug companies refuse to sell low-cost HIV/AIDS medicines in Africa and other impoverished, AIDS-affected regions for fear that these products will be sold at a cheap price on the black market in the developed world. So because of the fear that drug prices in developed countries will drop, no drugs are sold at all to the people who need them the most. Drug companies "get away with" charging the same price for the same product when the ethics of the situation seem to dictate that the drugs should be sold at a discounted price in poor countries.

Of course, AIDS vaccinations and video games are two very different things, but the same principle applies. If Valve didn't protect its regional sales like this, some kid in Thailand might not be playing Portal right now, because it would cost too much. Valve's actions are undoubtedly profit-motivated, but they also protect the game's international audience. Just some food for thought.

Re:Moneygrab (1)

Fallingcow (213461) | about 7 years ago | (#21137395)

What if companies move production to Thailand and pay $1/hr wages to get their product made, then sell them in the U.S. and Europe at rates only slightly lower than those of companies paying U.S. and European wages?

Globalization has to be for producers and consumers, or it's plutocratic bullshit.

Re:Moneygrab (1)

Kopiok (898028) | about 7 years ago | (#21137095)

It's all the science of economics, and how different people will pay different amounts for the same thing.

College textbooks (1)

RichPowers (998637) | about 7 years ago | (#21137635)

"International editions" can be purchased brand new for less than half of the price you'd pay at the college bookstore.

This is DRM (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21136699)

And Digital Restrictions Management will fuck you over every single time. Consumers aren't allowed to go global. Too much power. Keep the little guy down.

SO DON'T BUY SHIT WITH DRM!

Language study (1)

pizzach (1011925) | about 7 years ago | (#21136799)

Region locking is the bane of my existence. I just want to study some Japanese but now I have to buy two different DVD players, two different Wiis, two different residential addresses for my Steam account...

Re:Language study (1)

legoman666 (1098377) | about 7 years ago | (#21137305)

pretty sure japan is Region 1. The same as the U.S. ... that is of course, assuming you live in the US.

Re:Language study (2, Informative)

RupW (515653) | about 7 years ago | (#21137475)

pretty sure japan is Region 1. The same as the U.S.
No, Japan's region 2 [wikipedia.org] with Europe, the middle-east and South Africa. Region 1 is just the US, Canada and surrounding islands.

Re:Language study (1)

legoman666 (1098377) | about 7 years ago | (#21137511)

Really? Damn, I could've swore Japan was region 1. Oh well. Just make an htpc and you won't have to deal with regions.

Re:Language study (1)

Zantetsuken (935350) | about 7 years ago | (#21137929)

But only if your HTPC uses a media player software that will circumvent the hardware region coding in newer DVD drive firmware [wikipedia.org] , or you have an older DVD drive.

Computer DVD drives

Older DVD drives use RPC-1 firmware, which means the drive allows DVDs from any region to play. Newer drives use RPC-2 firmware, which enforces the DVD region coding at the hardware level. These drives can often be reflashed with hacked RPC-1 firmware, effectively making the drive region-free. However, this usually voids the warranty and can render the drive inoperable if something goes wrong.[14]

Some software can circumvent this protection by using special techniques.[15] See next section.

Software DVD players

Most freeware and open source DVD players ignore region coding. On the other hand, most commercial players are locked to a region code, but can be easily changed with software.

Other software, known as DVD region killers, transparently remove (or hide) the DVD region code from the software player. Some can also work around locked RPC-2 firmware.

Region Codes (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about 7 years ago | (#21136821)

I have read that in Australia, "region coding" (ala DVDs) has been ruled illegal. Some people have gone so far as to claim that is illegal to sell a region-locked DVD-player there. Since this is slashdot, I'll let someone else actually dig up a citation for or against that claim. Should only be a few more minutes...

Re:Region Codes (2, Informative)

deniable (76198) | about 7 years ago | (#21137053)

I've heard the same, but most of the big shops still sell region 4 only players. It's usually not hard at all to buy one that can be unlocked. I've asked the sales droids for an unlocked player and they've given me codes for it.

The major reason to hate region locking is that we are in region 4 with the Kiwis and Central & South America. A lot of stuff will be produced for region 1 or 2 but will never be 're-coded' for region 4 because "it won't sell enough." (Although some of the smarter producers in the UK make their disks 2 and 4.) Thus, Australians have to get unlocked players to be able to see it, or they can learn Spanish and Portuguese. The ACCC sees this as an unfair restriction and has supposedly taken steps to fix it.

With all of this trouble, people wonder why we just download stuff.

To answer your original question, the ACCC [accc.gov.au] says this. [accc.gov.au]

Legal, illegal, legitimate, illegitimate (3, Interesting)

alexgieg (948359) | about 7 years ago | (#21136861)

"'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.'"
I wonder how much time it'll take for all the people accused by Mr. Lombardi of being criminals to sue him for, well, calling them criminals. After all, if, according to Mr. Lombardi, they "subsequently purchased a legal copy", it's clear that's because they "previously hadn't purchased a legal copy", aka, they "previously purchased an illegal copy", aka, "why are all these lawyers looking funny at me?".

That, in addition to the class action suit for not being able to use the software they lawfully purchased, of course.

Re:Legal, illegal, legitimate, illegitimate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21137205)

Yes, it's entirely lawful to seek out a seller in another country and buy a product from him specifically to avoid your government's restrictions and taxes on importation. How DARE they accuse them of being criminals!

Re:Legal, illegal, legitimate, illegitimate (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#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.

Not criminal... (1)

Per Abrahamsen (1397) | about 7 years ago | (#21137977)

Illegal is not the same as criminal, so he doesn't accuse them of being criminals. Merely lawbreakers. It is unlikely but possible that the people who bought and installed the Thai versions thereby broke the law. The law in question would then be contract law, and it would depend on the interpretation and binding power of the EULA.

Re:Not criminal... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21138419)

> Illegal is not the same as criminal, so he doesn't accuse them of being criminals. Merely lawbreakers.

Please explain the difference between a lawbreaker and a criminal.

Criminal = someone who commits a crime
Crime = violation of law

Just imagine if MS did this with Windows (3, Insightful)

Dracil (732975) | about 7 years ago | (#21137007)

Can't believe people are actually trying to justify Valve's decision

qotd (1)

coaxial (28297) | about 7 years ago | (#21137077)

From Valve: "'Some of these users have subsequently purchased a legal copy"

Of course the original copy was also legally purchased as well. It's just that some consumers balk at differential pricing.

Re:qotd (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21137513)

Of course the original copy was also legally purchased as well. It's just that some consumers balk at differential pricing.
No, it's just the original copy was only licensed for use in a specific territory. As it apparently said on the box [slashdot.org] .

Re:qotd (1)

coaxial (28297) | about 7 years ago | (#21138209)

The software is the same. This different licenses (and price points) for different territories is bullshit.

I would've really liked to play Portal too. (1)

bigtangringo (800328) | about 7 years ago | (#21137609)

But the move on Valve's part is just f-ing crooked, if you ask me.

Penalty boycott box for Valve, for me.

WTF (4, Funny)

Ariastis (797888) | about 7 years ago | (#21137611)

Its like : "Thailand gets lower prices because there is a piracy problem there." So in order to get better prices, you say we need to go to Pirate Bay a bit more?

Re:WTF (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21137943)

Well, it's probably the quickest solution to this deactivation problem...

Re:WTF (1)

node159 (636992) | about 7 years ago | (#21138429)

This is what really fucks me off... why on earth should I have to grab a pirated copy of a game, just to be able to play a game that I purchased because the DRM is so fucked up, and were not just talking about Steam here.

Problem with this is.. (2, Interesting)

JackMeyhoff (1070484) | about 7 years ago | (#21137837)

I live in a country that is not my native language, I wish to purchase products in MY NATIVE LANGUAGE. I have to import a lot of stuff for this reason. I may have no other choice than to no longer purchase their product if they block this. Good luck doing this in Europe also where free trade is REQUIRED.

Re:Problem with this is.. (3, Informative)

elFarto the 2nd (709099) | about 7 years ago | (#21138459)

The only restriction with the Orange Box is if you buy the physical box from Thailand or Russia, then the key can only be used in Thailand or Russia, it states this on the box itself. If you buy it on Steam it'll work any where in the world.

The reason for the Thai and Russian keys being restricted is because Valve sells them cheaper in those markets to help combat piracy. The online retailers who sold the boxes to places outside Thailand did not specify what was on the box to the people buying them.

Regards
elFarto

Re:Problem with this is.. (1)

JackMeyhoff (1070484) | about 7 years ago | (#21138469)

Usually they are localised to those regions and thus the issue I raised with language is perfectly valid. Not every game has downloadable language packs or is multi language.

Why is it illegal? (1)

WeirdCat (1136961) | about 7 years ago | (#21138131)

I don't know the international laws, but in the EU it is absolutely legal to buy a new car in another country and reimport it (and sometimes save a lot of money in the process). Why should software from Valve be an exception?

Valve & SteamStucks (-1, Flamebait)

node159 (636992) | about 7 years ago | (#21138411)

Back when Steam first came out, it was pretty obvious what a DRM job it was all in the name of the 'consumer'. I saw though your lies Valve, i saw how you were trying to fuck me over my previously purchased games and decided to never buy any of your products again. Well a few years down the line it looks like I did the right thing. All the fanboys where defending you then, shame on you, now your fucking them good, and they defend you again, shame on them.

I have no sympathy for the people who got screwed, its pretty obvious what Steam is, and you supported it...
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