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Steam gifting gets major changes that hurt resellers, Australians

The update has proven controversial already

Steam logo Valve

Valve has announced a few changes to how games can be gifted to other accounts, and the adjustments should make it harder for key resellers to profit from price differences between regions.

“Steam Gifting will now be a system of direct exchange from gift buyer to gift receiver, and we will be retiring the Gift to E-mail and Gift to Inventory options,” the blog post explains. So what has changed?

You can purchase a gift months in advance and it will be delivered to your friend “on time, every time.” If the recipient declines the game, or already has that game in their inventory, the game will be returned to Steam and the buyer will automatically get a refund. This is a big improvement from the old system where the game would return to the buyer’s inventory.

The biggest change is in cross-country gifting. If there is a substantial price difference between the country in which the game was purchased and the country of the recipient, the game will not be available to be purchased as a gift.

“No more worrying if a Gift to E-mail or Gift to Inventory is going to work for a friend, gifts sent through the new system will always work on the receiver's account,” Valve states. “When there is a large difference in pricing between countries, gifting won't be available and you'll know before purchase.”

What do people think?

There have been two reactions in the comment thread for this news:

  1. This is great! Stick it to the key resellers!
  2. This is the worst, why are you punishing us?

Key resellers like G2A don’t have the best reputation in the gaming community, and these changes in Steam will make it harder for them to operate in general. That’s the good news for developers and the fans who want to support them.

The bad news is that game prices on Steam can vary wildly between countries. This latest change means that players can no longer have their friends or family buy games in less expensive regions to be gifted into their account. Valve isn’t saying exactly how large the price difference has to be for the gifting option to be removed — and it’s possible they’ll experiment with the exact amount in the near future — but this does give Valve another tool to enforce region-by-region pricing.

“Oh goody gumdrops,” one player wrote in the comments. “Let's continue to screw over us folk in Australia with our unfair rort of $89.99 prices, whilst now preventing people from gifting us more down-to earth and normalized priced copies. /slowclap”

I had to look up rort.

Developers can always choose to allow gifting from any country to any country, however. They just have to price their games similarly in every country they’re being offered.

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