In recent days, the mood of some domestic Steam users does not seem to be so beautiful.
The reason is that their account that originally belonged to the Argentine area was suddenly expelled from the “nationality”.
Prior to this, these users had not received any warnings or notifications, and some had not even operated their accounts recently, and found that their accounts had been dumbly kicked back to the country by the Steam official when they woke up.
Although there are no wet shoes when walking along the river, but thinking of the low-priced paradise in Argentina shutting out themselves, the “Jing Ah” players are still a little bit difficult.
Some of them bid farewell to the “homeland” in tears, and some of them tried to fight with the official reason and justified and used Chinese to prove to the customer service that they were native Argentines-but no one would believe it.
On the contrary, the aborigines of the country who watched the excitement from the sidelines seemed extremely enthusiastic. The major communities were full of Beijing flavors for a time, and on behalf of the motherland, they warmly welcomed the return of immigrant players. The scene was once very “warm.”
As the operator of this large-scale repatriation incident, V agency has not issued any announcements to explain the action from the beginning to the end. The entire community also seems to be a mystery on this issue: no one knows the direct cause of the incident, but No one questioned the practice of V agency.
The reason why the atmosphere is so subtle is probably because the players in it know it well, and this is obviously the usual handling of the “player immigration” problem faced by the V agency.
For many new and old Steam players, “player immigration” is not an unfamiliar practice. The phenomenon of cross-regional transfer of accounts starts with Steam’s regional pricing.
As we all know, a commodity does not have an absolute price in the strict sense. For example, the same piece of durian may only sell for a few yuan per catty in Hainan, but it will cost dozens of yuan in Beijing.
There are many factors that cause this gap: transportation costs, local consumption levels, market supply and demand… Many consumer goods will have price fluctuations in different regions, and the same is true for games.
However, compared to physical goods, games obviously have unique advantages on the sales side. For example, it can complete online transactions by selling digital versions, which means that people don’t have to do it personally when buying, “cross-border shopping” very easy.
As long as you have a scientific Internet tool and a Steam account, you can click to switch regions when purchasing the game. Then, as long as you check out with a credit card, or purchase a prepaid card in the corresponding area on Taobao, you can complete the feat of digital immigration without leaving your home.
Since the first-party control of V agency was not particularly strict at the beginning, it used to be a common practice for budget-conscious players to buy cheap games through this method. But the problem is that “it is easy to treat guests and it is difficult to send them off.” If the price of games in a certain area remains low for a long time, it will lead to a large number of overseas players staying here for a long time; over time, users staying in the low price area will become more and more-this is the so-called “player immigration “.
In fact, in the early days of Steam’s global business expansion, many developing countries played the role of “immigrants”.
For example, when Alipay paid for the opening of the country in 2015, V agency and many game publishers deliberately reduced the price of games in many countries to the lowest level on the entire network in order to develop market potential, which once made players in many developed countries The jealousy is endless.
It’s just like the subsidies of various manufacturers during the food delivery war are like giving them in vain, and they will gradually cancel the discounts when users form consumption habits. With the growing national market, V agency and major publishers have gradually taken back the “benefits” that belonged to Chinese players.
A more representative event was the launch of “Neil” in the country in 2017. The publisher SE raised the price on the day of launch, and instantly raised the price of the country from the initial 199 yuan to 412 yuan, which was basically the same as the price in developed countries. .
By the end of 2020, the price of “Amaho no Saki Inahime” in the country has reached a new high. It has opened nearly ten times the gap with the newly-increased low-price area Argentina, and has become the top two “high-priced area” in the world. .
During this period, the huge price gap between national regions and overseas has made more and more players realize the reality. Some of them who are unwilling to continue to be leeks for V, choose to demonstrate their resistance to digital capital through “immigrants”. The determination of ism.
As one of the regions with the lowest game prices in the world, Argentina has naturally become the core of this “migration” storm.
So, what is the official position of V agency in the face of players buying games across regions?
The answer is obviously against—at least on the face of it.
In the “User Agreement” that every Steam user will agree to but 100% have never read, V agency explicitly prohibits players from inter-regional behavior:
“You agree not to use IP proxy or other methods to disguise your place of residence, whether it is to circumvent geographic restrictions on game content, or to purchase at a price that does not apply to your geographic location, or for any other purpose. If you do If you do, Valve may terminate your account access.”
As a typical case of the official crackdown on game immigration, V agency also concentrated on handling a large number of Russian accounts as early as 2015. During this period, many Chinese players involved in the incident received official “red letters”, and the games were taken back lightly. The title will be dealt with if it is heavy.
But if we have to say that the V company is really determined to put an end to this phenomenon, judging from their laissez-faire attitude of fishing for three days and drying the net for two days, it is obviously not the same.
In particular, the issue of regional pricing can almost be said to be a nerve that V agency has been reluctant to touch at will for many years.
For example, in early 2021, the European Union once punished V agency, ordered it to pay a fine of 7.8 million euros, and cooperated with relevant agencies to conduct investigations. The reason is that “Valve and other publishers restrict cross-border sales of certain PC games constitute geographic isolation”, thus violating EU antitrust regulations.
At that time, other issuers such as Bandai Namco, Capcom, ZeniMax (the parent company of B company) and so on were also caught. During the period, they all chose to cooperate with the investigation and admit their mistakes for rectification, and because of their good attitude, they were granted a 10% EU fine exemption.
Only the only iron-headed company V in the audience refused to cooperate with the investigation and insisted on not cooperating. Therefore, not only did it not get a 10% fine exemption, it also paid an extra 1.6 million euro fine.
V Society is obviously aware of the troubles caused by long-term regional pricing (for example, violation of EU policy), but it is difficult to completely change the current regional sales pattern, so overall it has shown an ambiguous attitude: catching immigrants, but not completely; Cross-regional, but not thorough.
However, even if the official V agency has been very ambiguous in the history of the specific handling of the player’s cross-regional issues, there are still some things that need to be resolved.
A typical example is that with the invasion of overseas forces, the real Argentine brothers can no longer withstand it.
Earlier, it was mentioned that Argentina has become a new low-price zone and has focused the attention of global players. After several years of fermentation, the current impact of foreign player immigrants on the local ecology has reached a rather exaggerated point.
How exaggerated is it? According to a Finnish game developer’s online disclosure, 82% of its game sales are from Argentina.
This feeling of being “the center of the world” looks very beautiful, but if you want to wear it, you must first bear its weight. Along with the surge in game sales and the “market boom”, the platform and sellers’ floor prices will soon arrive.
For example, the price of “Subverse” by Ma Tou Shea in Algeria has risen from the 329.99 Argentine pesos just released to 999 Argentine pesos, which is three times higher than the original price.
The PC version of “Horizon: Dawn” in Al-Ah district also rose from the initial 539 pesos to 2,100 pesos overnight, which is more than four times more expensive.
The publisher’s behavior of pushing up the price of games regardless of local consumption levels hurt local Argentine players so badly that as early as 19 years, a local brother posted an appeal, begging overseas players not to come over the wall Argentine Huho, or he himself Really can’t afford games.
Therefore, in the face of the excessively deformed Argentine market, the official V agency naturally has no reason to stand on the sidelines. So since some time ago, V agency has played a series of combo punches to restrict users in non-cheap districts from shopping across districts:
First, on June 23, Steam officially limited the frequency of user account changes to once every 3 months.
Within a few days, the official of V agency restricted the sales and sales of rechargeable cards in Argentina.
Afterwards, just as described at the beginning of the article, a large number of cross-regional users including China and Brazil were forcibly moved back to the local area.
These local “spiritual Argentines” who were originally absent are now considered “forever lost”.
Although the means of this repatriation operation are vigorous and vigorous, compared with the previous strong handling of immigrants from the Russian region, V agency obviously still has some leeway in this repatriation operation.
For example, all the balances in the player’s account will be returned in RMB according to the exchange rate, and there is no “red letter” warning for the account involved.
The reason for this may be that V agency still does not want to expand the contradiction. After all, thanks to the positive impact of regional pricing, the number of genuine players in many developing countries has seen a significant increase.
Of course, on the other hand, it may also be because Steam’s annual summer promotion is currently underway, and the official does not want this to undermine the enthusiasm of players to participate, so taking this into account, it does not rule out the possibility of V agency after the fall.
However, judging from the overall trend, cross-regional welfare will undoubtedly become the focus of V agency in the future, and users can only be careful. After all, we don’t know when G fat, who usually looks harmless, loses his temper-but then again, it’s not that the country is bullish for years. Who will take the risk and emigrate to Argentina on the other side of the ocean?
Source: Travel Research Agency