Ever since Valve began selling Steam games with different prices for different markets, people who live in the more expensive regions have been trying to find ways to get cheaper video games. Ways that Valve knows about, and is continuing to quietly crack down on.
As SteamDB recently discovered, Valve has “added a limit on how often you can change your Steam account’s country,” with users now only able to switch them once every three months.
Any purchases users are making must also only be made using methods from the region you’ve currently got selected.
Why/how would users be doing this? Well, let’s say you’re in the US, and a game you’re interested in is $50. For someone in some European markets, that game might cost a lot more, and for someone in certain South American countries, it might cost a lot less.
As an example, here are the results of a study done by VPNPro back in January, looking at the average cost of a Steam game around the world. As you can see, what people in the US and Canada are paying is not what people in Brazil or Russia or India are paying.
So a Steam user being disadvantaged by local pricing—or just trying to get a cheaper game, let’s be honest—might try to get a better deal by switching their account to a different country, and tricking the storefront into letting them buy their games there.
I’m going to guess that the restrictions based on how often you can change it are to stop people in, say, the US moving their account to a different country to buy then moving it straight back to play (as opposed to simply leaving it in the cheaper country for good), because using a VPN can suck if you’re playing multiplayer.
This move comes a year after Valve first tried closing this pricing loophole, when they made buying things from different regions harder by forcing users to use a local payment method (so you couldn’t use an American credit card to buy a game in Poland, for example).