Steam spite

Did you hear? There was a big fifty-percent-off sale on all Rockstar games this past weekend. With GTA San Andreas running a mere $10, I could finally see the lovely city of Los Santos for myself before deciding whether I should drop $50 on GTA 4. Perfect!

Then I logged onto Steam, went into the store and searched for San Andreas. The cupboard was bare. “Hey stupid,” said a little voice in the back of my head. “Did you forget? Rockstar games aren’t available on Steam if you live in Japan.”

Oh yeah, I remember alright. Thanks for asking, brain. Kind of hard to forget when you’ve just got three trailers staring you in the face. Valve really knows how to rub in that salt.

Now, here is what amazes me about Steam. It’s supposed to be the best digital distribution platform on the Internet, and it can’t tell that I’m an American with an American credit card? Even iTunes knows that much. I just switch to my profile, and there’s the American store front. I can download a new episode of Battlestar Galactica in peace. Meanwhile, Valve and Rockstar are saying, “How do we *know* you’re American? You could be a sneaky Japanese in disguise.”

No guys, I’m not. Most Japanese people can’t get American credit cards. And even if they could, why are you so concerned with keeping GTA out of their hands? Last time I checked, there were quite a few GTA games available here. I even once had a student tell me that Liberty City Stories was his favorite PSP game.

But it’s fine. Trust me, I’m taking deep breaths. I’m just going to get it from Direct2Drive. I don’t even mind that I have to pay an extra $10, because as far as I’m concerned, that’s my $10 screw-you-Steam tax. That’s right, I’m sticking it to the man. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to listen to Pandora and play some GameTap while I wait for my download to finish up.

Oh wait. I can’t!

Well, now we know why GameTap ended up hemmorhaging money, huh? You keep on locking out those customers, guys!

13 thoughts on “Steam spite

  1. Of course this all comes down to publishing rights; Capcom has the GTA brand in Japan and surely wouldn’t appreciate someone else selling the game for which they’ve bought rights to someone in their territory. This is irrespective of your point of origin, of course, just like you won’t find US retail copies of GTA at Softmap. This is complete stupid, of course, because the point of digital distribution is to bypass these barriers. But in this case it’s really not Rockstar’s fault, or Valve’s.

    (GTA4 being a big pile of crap is Rockstar’s fault, though.)

  2. GTA4 negative review get, please?

    I tried to enjoy it but I never unlocked the second island. That’s worse than GTA3 or Vice City, even. What was missing?

  3. The original spirit of freedom that made the series great in the first place. And diversity of mission design.

  4. I was feeling bad for you until I remember OH YEAH YOU LIVE IN JAPAN.

    Actually, this makes me think of region-locked games and rights management across regions in the age of the internet and digital distribution…and how outdated it all feels to me. It’ll be interesting to see where all of this stands in another 50 years.

    In the meantime, hey, you can walk down to an arcade and play SFIV or can already play Valkyria Chronicles! The pendulum swings both ways.

  5. ps, WHOA, that’s like the first negative thing I’ve heard about GTAIV ever. Interesting thoughts from our Overlord.

  6. It probably has something to do with Capcom publishing the GTA games in Japan. Distribution rights or whatever.

  7. The problem isn’t with Steam, it’s with Rockstar. I remember someone at Steam once addressed a similar region-locking issue on Kotaku, and he insisted that the software publisher gets the final say in which regions can access the game. He said Steam always recommends NO REGIONAL RESTRICTIONS to publishers. So someone at Rockstar made the call. Bioshock is another high-profile title that is not available in Japan for some reason.

    So Capcom doesn’t enter into it – all they do is localize the console version, I don’t think they even get involved with the PC version. And you can absolutely buy the US version in Japan if you go to stores that deal in imported software.

  8. As mentioned, Capcom is the software publisher in Japan. Ultimately, though, none of us know the details of the agreement between Rockstar and Capcom (and Valve), so speculation will only get us so far.

  9. I feel your pain.. living in Australia we get a similar raw deal at times. For instance, I’d like to have bought the original Stalker on there, but nope.. not in Australia. Still, Rock Band (1) is nearly out here..

  10. Yeah, but all this talk about publishing rights doesn’t change the fact that somebody else has different publishing rights to the stuff in the Itunes store also.

  11. I love it when people post in the comments who think everything on this site is still written only by parish.
    What a coincidence, the poster in question has vanished into thin air.

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