Steam has increased the price of its games by almost 4000% in certain countries, in particular because of the currency used to obtain the titles sold on the platform. Several players are already talking about the “death of the platform”.
In order to meet the needs of a wider audience and take into account economic disparities, Steam implemented a significant change a few years ago in Turkey or Argentina for example by introducing the Argentine peso as a payment option. This measure was intended to make games more accessible to Argentines, given their economic difficulties, rather than having to rely on the US dollar as a payment standard.
For a long time, this pricing strategy made video games more affordable in Argentina, a boon for some French players who used VPNs to buy games in the local currency. Steam had tried to counter this strategy, but Europe had announced that the platform could not block the activation of a game depending on the country of purchase.
Prices are soaring on Steam in some countries
Unfortunately for gamers, as PCGamer reported, this inclusive pricing policy was abruptly discontinued, leading to staggering price hikes. Valve eventually backtracked by switching its storefront in these countries from local currency pricing to US dollar pricing.
In extreme cases, games like Stardew Valley have seen a staggering 2900% price increase. Such exorbitant increases are unsustainable for the inhabitants of the countries concerned, making video games an inaccessible luxury. The base version of Civilization VI is the most extreme example, with a 4298% increase to $60while it only cost the equivalent of $1.36 in the local currency before the policy change.
Worse still, reports indicate that Argentinian players also face high taxes on their purchases. Some Twitter users have shared shocking screenshots of sales taxes, exacerbating the financial burden imposed by Steam’s price overhaul.
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Why have prices increased so much?
The primary cause of these drastic price increases lies in the volatility of the currencies of Argentina and Turkey. Argentina, currently struggling with inflation, faces a harsh reality: the US dollar appears to be the safest option for normalizing prices, despite the unfortunate consequences for the local gaming community.
The value of the Argentine peso fell from $0.00991 in November 2021 to $0.00281 two years later, a drop of 71%. Meanwhile, the Turkish lira fell from $0.0742 to $0.0347 during the same period, representing a decline of more than 53%. As a result, game developers wanting to maintain their profit margins have had to constantly adjust their prices to keep up with fluctuations.
For his part, The Japanese yen has lost about a third of its value against the dollar over the past two years. This essentially means that games sold in Japan, which kept their yen price as before, now produce about a third less dollar revenue than before. Publishers are therefore probably wondering if they should adjust the prices of games, even if it means making them inaccessible for certain players.
While waiting for a solution, players in other countries can rejoice, since Valve has made welcome changes to Steam. The platform is now fully compatible with PS4 and PS5 controllers, and Steam has even made it easier to discover new titles playable with the DualSense and DualShock.