Valve Responds to Foreign-Purchased Orange Box Key Lockouts

Andy Chalk

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Nov 12, 2002
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Valve Responds to Foreign-Purchased Orange Box Key Lockouts


Orange Box [http://www.valvesoftware.com]keys being shut down on Steam by telling owners they are essentially out of luck.

Some U.S. customers looking to save a few bucks by purchasing the game from overseas vendors have recently found themselves locked out [http://consumerist.com/consumer/drm/valve-deactivating-customers-who-bought-orange-box-internationally-314690.php] of the game. Although the games were purchased legally and activated without difficulty, starting about a week later gamers were met with "incorrect territory" warnings and unplayable games. Further, gamers who attempted to rectify the problem by then re-purchasing the game from U.S. vendors found the new copies still wouldn't run.

Doug Lombardi, Director of Marketing at Valve, recently responded by telling Steam [http://www.shacknews.com/onearticle.x/49656]operation, and that Valve will continue to enforce regional restrictions. "Valve uses Steam for territory control to make sure products authorized for use in certain territories are not being distributed and used outside of those territories," he said. "In this case, a Thai website was selling retail box product keys for Thailand to people outside of Thailand. Since those keys are only for use in Thailand, people who purchased product keys from the Thai website are not able to use those product keys in other territories."

"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," he continued. "Anyone having this problem should contact Steam Support to have the Thai key removed from their Steam account."


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Katana314

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Wow...I actually bought Prince of Persia from England (while I was visiting), and thankfully it worked on my computer. I guess I should remember not to do that again.
 

Tom Edwards

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It's only an issue when you buy from countries with much lower RRPs than your own. England isn't one of them...though it would be nice if it was. :)
 

Andy Chalk

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I'm a pretty rabid Steam-hater to begin with, so for me this is just fuel on the fire. I'm buying a copy of the Witcher imported from the UK, which as far as I know won't have any activation limitations, but what happens in two or three years when every game is under some kind of Steam-style online control, and if you buy your game somewhere or some way the publisher doesn't like, you suddenly find yourself unable to play it? This is far more egregious than than BioShock activations fiasco, so where is the uproar?
 

Nushi

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There's not going to nearly be as much uproar from steam, people will literally bend over and put up with almost anything (see delays) for valve.
 

shadow skill

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Isn't it wonderful when people just decide to bend over and take it? These games should not be region coded in any way shape or form. It is perfectly reasonable for people to buy games at a cheaper price due to exchange rates. It's also reasonable for people to purchase games (or anything else.) from a different region because said product has not been or will not be released in their territory for whatever reason. I wish sony would take the extra step and remove region coding from their movie releases as they have done for playstation 3 games. (and as hd-dvd does for their movies.)
 

Andy Chalk

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Nov 12, 2002
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I still haven't purchased the Orange Box because I refuse to pay extra for product I already own. Valve can spout all it likes about throwing in Half-Life 2 and Episode 1 "free," but the fact is that the Orange Box costs more than the Black Box was going to. It's driving me nuts to hear everyone yammering about how awesome Portal is, how awesome Episode 2 is, how awesome Team Fortress 2 is, but I won't pay twice for content I already own.

Which I suppose just goes to prove your point that people will put up with almost anything from Valve. But someday it won't be just Valve, it'll be everything. And you'll get in line and play what they tell you to play because you won't have any choice.
 

Katana314

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True, Valve ripped you off, but only after giving you what is essentially a very good deal anyway. Just about every gaming review site in the world agrees: Episode Two, TF2, and Portal are already worth more than $50.

"Hey, we'll sell you an orange for $2."
"Oh, that's cool!"
"Hey, we have a new idea. Let's throw in an orange peeler, no extra charge!"
"FUCK YOU! I already have an orange peeler."

The thing is, besides VAC-hacking, this is pretty much the only time I've heard of Valve intentionally disabling games on Steam accounts. I would actually have to say, at least compared to other forms of DRM such as iTunes (which expect you to keep track of your music after downloading, and keep it on one player) Steam is pretty lenient. The only thing I could acknowledge your frustration for is Steam's bugginess, which even I can't deny.
 

Andy Chalk

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Episode 1 sold for twenty bucks. Portal is, what, two or three hours long? TF2 is great as long as you have an intention of playing it online. Guess what? I don't. Even if I did I have a hard time believing that those three titles are worth 55 bucks when Ep2 itself is only worth 20, but even if it's true, so what? I want Ep2 so I can keep up with the HL2 continuity, and Valve is forcing me to pay 50 bucks for it. Or I can get it over Steam, minus the box, manual and media, for the same price I paid for the first one which included the box, manual and media - not what I'd call a deal by any stretch, without even taking into consideration my own aforementioned objection to Steam's control over what I can and can't play. I'm not really seeing a "very good deal" here at all.

Also, bear in mind that "the only time" you've heard of Valve disabling games on Steam accounts is the same as saying it's "the first time" you've heard of it.
 

Andy Chalk

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Nov 12, 2002
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Steam's lock downs are the reason game delivery systems like Steam will never work in the long run. The more they try to control how you play the games,the more you're going to support hackers who fuck up their programs. What companies don't get is the more they screw over the customer,the more the customer looks to screw them right back. What a lot of people seem to think is "bending over for the man" is actually "fuck them,we'll screw them out a buck when they're not looking". Unlike companies who feel the need to broadcast their "fuck yous",we the people just do it quietly and make them work to find out where the money leak is.

So let Steam screw all they want. They'll be humping air before long. They aren't the first to try this remote control crap and they won't be the last. But they're going to lose out just like everyone else.
 

Katana314

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Merlynn: You know that Steam's attempts at lockdowns are very different when you see people PREFERRING to buy games on Steam as opposed to boxed, non-locked editions. (there's far more than the HL games on there)
Malygris: The best damned reviewer on your site is preparing to kill you with the Weighted Companion Cube. Just because it's two hours, doesn't mean it doesn't count; the experience is extremely unique and there's already about an hour's worth of custom maps out. Less than a month after release.
I'm also a bit confused at your adversity to playing online. Are you just afraid that everyone else is so obsessed with the game that they'll be far more skilled than a new player? (as is sometimes my fear with games) I was completely new to the concept, and now I'm dominating everyone; it's built to be easy to learn. Surprisingly, the online players are actually intelligent as well (no more of that "OMFGFAG" from Halo)

Also: Steam does not control what you can't play. It has an offline mode whereas you can play SP games without being connected to the internet. The only way in which it would be legal for Valve to disable your game is if there's a horrible network bug. (true, this does happen. But they do their best to fix them. And let's face it. No game code is perfect.)
 

Andy Chalk

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Nov 12, 2002
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Yes,and those people are idiots who don't know about Gametap where you can play almost all the same games for 10 bucks a month. And that's only if you want to keep legal. If you don't mind breaking the law,you can just download games off the P2P networks for nothing. So in the end,Steam is already behind on service and can go fuck itself for all I care. The only Steam exclusive product they have that I got is the Orange Box and I bought that at the store. So tell me again about how Steam is this great innovation. I need another good laugh.
 

Zoidbergio

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Oh noes, big brother steam is screwing over the common man with its game bundles and anti-piracy measures.

Curse you steam and your awesome orange box product.

Seriously though, if your missing out on one of the years best games/game compilations over a few bucks, then i feel sorry for you. Portal is one of the most original and cool games to come along in awhile. The rest of the package kicks serious ass as well.

Granted, I never finished the original Half-life 2 or played episode 1, so i am getting the whole package as fresh to me. I don't think I would get bent out of shape about it if i did already have those games. It's not that much money unless you're super poor or something, which begs the question, 'how do you afford a somewhat high-end PC if you can't afford a game?"

Or, if you refuse to buy it out of principle, then congratulations on such high moral convictions. In the tradition of Gandhi and Martin Luther King, your steadfast refusal to pay twice for a game you already have will surely usher in a new era of understanding and prosperity.

I think I'm gonna go enjoy the orange box now.
 

Katana314

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Merlynn said:
Yes,and those people are idiots who don't know about Gametap where you can play almost all the same games for 10 bucks a month. And that's only if you want to keep legal. If you don't mind breaking the law,you can just download games off the P2P networks for nothing. So in the end,Steam is already behind on service and can go fuck itself for all I care. The only Steam exclusive product they have that I got is the Orange Box and I bought that at the store. So tell me again about how Steam is this great innovation. I need another good laugh.
While Gametap and Steam have a few games in common, I fail to see Bioshock (activation-free by-otch), Call of Duty 2, Darwinia, DEFCON, Company of Heroes, Civ4, Medieval 2, etc. I actually have a Gametap subscription, and am already quite tired of it, as they seem to get the bottom bin of games for the most part.

Why are you encouraging piracy? Are you saying Steam would be more up to date if it let you pirate stuff?

When Steam first came out, it was undeniably an innovation; you can buy games over the web, and download them over the web, and update them over the web. It took things further by letting you install the game anywhere you could install Steam, as well as allowing for backing up your games, and now the new Community interface, something a lot of people have really liked. Makes it just as easy as X-fire in joining games, and supports more games than X-fire for ingame chat. (in fact: anything using directx)

Besides that I've actually seen some pretty low-priced games there because of a lack of packaging. Whereas Prey was $50 at Wal-Mart, it was $20 on Steam. SiN Episode 1, though shitty, once sold for $5. Even if it was only halfway decent, that's pretty damn cheap.

Steam supports any small, independent developer so long as they can create an EXE file that is fun to play. Many people wouldn't have their games noticed at all were it not for Steam. Darwinia and DEFCON primarily became successes through Steam. So unless you have some bitter hatred for indies...

Finally, they're not some corporate entity with a huge wall between them and their customers. Besides putting a bit of personality and sometimes office photos into their Update News, when you send an E-mail to Gabe Newell, the head of Valve software, it GOES to Gabe Newell, the head of Valve software. I have E-mail replies in my inbox directly from him.

I kind of doubt your opinions on Steam will change though...I'll try to avoid this thread now, so as to avoid flaming. Just say what you wish.
 

Andy Chalk

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Nov 12, 2002
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I'm saying Steam would be more up to date if they didn't make pirating seem more appealing. The copies bought were legit. Yes,international purchases can be cheaper,but that's nothing new. Nor is it unusual. Then there's the question of if it should be discouraged. Frankly,a lot of good things come from international game stores,like gadgets and dodads that let you do all kinds of stuff to improve your gaming experience. To deny they do just means you probably haven't used them before.

Was it wrong to try to shave some money off the cost of their game by going to an international store? I dunno,lets ask Wal-mart if it's fair that Valve offers the same game they've paid for to sale for 30 dollars cheaper. What,it's ok for Valve to do it but not anyone else? Kind of the pot calling the kettle black,huh?

And there was such a better way to handle it. Valve could've offered to let the people who bought the Thai keys get activation by paying the rest of the cost for the American version. It'd at least sting a little less and it'd make Valve seem a little more concerned for their consumer base. Instead,we get a big "fuck you,jerk bag" from Valve,proving where their concerns really lie.

I'd also like to point out that Overlord and Jericho are 40 bucks apiece. For 10 dollars,I can get both and play them for a month. Further,I'm not just getting those games,I'm getting EVERY game Gametap offers. I mean,if you consider SiN episode 1 worth 5 bucks,that's half of month of Gametap right there. And are you calling Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow the "bottom bin" of gaming? How about Dues Ex? Sam & Max are getting Season 2 next month and then there's Metal Slug,the Streets of Rage series. Speaking of series,how about some Darkstalkers,Samurai Showdown,Street Fighter,and tons more. All of which,while older games,look a hell of a lot more interesting than Darwinia. And I know you're not going to sit there and tell me those bland and boring FPS games they try to pass off as entertainment on Steam are supposed to compare to Serious Sam.

I'm already 70 bucks ahead just on those 2 games and I get metric tons more. Even if you focus on just the good ones,you're going to be playing for a VERY long time. Have you even tried Disciples 2? Heroes of Might and Magic? What about Beyond Good and Evil? Psychonauts? Quest for Glory series? Have you even *looked* at Space Quest or Zork: Inquisition? I bet you haven't played half those games I mentioned. I bet you haven't even HEARD of half of those games before.

So lets see about your "innovation" claims. Buying games over the web,been done for as long as there was a web to buy things over. People were downloading games since there was a web to download over. And not all of it illegally. Updates over the web,what are you smoking? Patching over the interweb has been around forever! Installing the game anywhere you install Steam,a lot of games let you install them on any computer that could run them,so this is a step backwards. Backing up games,could do that before they invented harddrives. Community interface,any game community anywhere on the interweb,again,nothing new. Finding servers,any multiplayer game worth it's salt would never rely on Steam to provide player access. Frankly,these days,not including a way to find servers in the game itself is considered a major oversight by the programmers.

Providing "start ups" for "indy" game makers. These days "indy" is just another word for "suck". Darwinia,looks like ass and I can't say I think it'd play any better. DEFCON,a game based on a movie...from 1983! Wow. I'm impressed. How could I not see how awesome Steam is? Tell you what,laughing boy,when Steam puts up Mugen,THEN we'll talk about supporting "indy" games. But thanks for the laugh. :)
 

Bongo Bill

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See, I just bought Portal by itself. Twenty bucks. If you're not interested in TF2, then Portal and Episode 2 are cheaper than the Orange Box, whereas if you are interested in TF2, the Orange Box is a good deal.

Anyway, region lock-outs are regrettable but real, and not worth public outrage. Refusing to revoke the keys so that people can play a version that they got in the correct region, on the other hand, is just plain unprofessional, and it's a shame it's taken any hoop-jumping at all for people to deal with it.
 

Geoffrey42

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@Merlynn:

I find it very humorous that you imply that people have never heard of or have not played Quest for Glory and then dismiss Darwinia out of hand for its sparse graphics. If we applied the "good graphics are a must" to all games throughout history, we'd end up with a very short current list worthy of playing.

Also, your dismissal of DEFCON for having been influenced by WarGames doesn't take into account that it remains a highly stylish, strategic game.

I'm sorry that you don't like Steam, but that's not really an excuse to trash the games that are available on the service.
 

Andy Chalk

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Nov 12, 2002
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It's one thing for an old game to not have state of the art graphics. It's another for a recent game to look bad. Darwinia looks bad. Gameplay looks simple and uninteresting to me. As such,it doesn't look like a great game TO ME. I'm not saying Darwinia is a bad game for everyone. I'm saying I don't dig it. Some people won't like Quest for Glory. That's their problem.

Is Darwinia a good game? I haven't played so I can't say. Just like Kat's probably not played most of the awesome games I listed. So is it fair to say there are no good games on Gametap when you haven't even looked? Why is ok to trash an entire library of games,but you get offended about 2? Riddle me that one,Batman. :p
 

Geoffrey42

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Whether I agree with Katana or not, I found your statement to be the more hypocritical of the two. And while I'm not in a position to judge who is wrong or right on the issue, I'm perfectly capable of recognizing and being irked by hypocrisy. If an older game can still be fun, even if its graphics aren't up to date (currently, I'm having a blast with Deus Ex), then I see no reason why that should count against more recent games done on low budgets. I would prefer their limited resources be focused on GAMEPLAY instead of GRAPHICS.

Disclosure: I like Steam AND GameTap, even if my own personal preferences tend towards ownership over renting.