Valve, the company behind the Steam game download system, recently forced people living roughly in European territory to pay in EUR. This is silly all on its own, as a bunch of countries in the European territory don’t use the Euro. What’s worse, Valve converted prices with an exchange rate of 1:1 against the USD (instead of 1 EUR = ~0.69 USD as they should have).
There has been a lot of unheard protest, and now an interesting new site is available that shows just how much Valve is overcharging European customers: Steam Repowered. The site gives you a direct comparison between European prices on Steam and prices in retail, saying that on average, Steam is now 42% more expensive than retail stores. You, as a European, pay more for less, and Steam Repowered shows how much of a rip-off Steam has become, in real numbers.
Brick and mortar games stores will be happy to hear. Not only are games cheaper there, you also get more: A physical disc, a box, extras like maps, perhaps a manual — it’s a better deal overall. With the inflated prices on Steam, you can even purchase the collector’s editions of most games and still pay less.
Another problem is that for Swiss, Norwegian, Danish people (etc.), who are not part of the Euro currency zone, prices are messed up even further! I want to pay in the weak US dollar, not in the strong EUR. CHF vs. USD is almost 1:1 sometimes, which would give me a USD 49 game for CHF 49, instead of the CHF 74 (!!!) it costs at the moment. I even pay less if I order a physical copy from Germany, a full CHF 20 less, with box, shipping, taxes, customs and all.
There are still game download services that possess the important property of “not being completely brainfucked”, such as Greenhouse and GOG.com. We need more of those, and Valve’s messup is a good window of opportunity for the competition.