Update: Since this piece went live, a few readers in Argentina have reached out to note that Argentine users also have to pay incredibly high taxes in addition to Steam's listed prices, making these new prices even more unaffordable there. It's worth bearing that in mind as you read the original piece below.
Original story: Valve followed through on its promise to change Steam's regional pricing for Argentina and Turkey on November 20, meaning games in those countries will now be priced in US dollars instead of the Turkish lira and Argentine peso. The goal, Valve said back in October, is to prevent game developers from having to constantly adjust their prices to keep up with the stunning volatility of the Turkish and Argentine currencies. Instead, they ought to be able to set a regionally appropriate price in USD and forget about it.
But that regionally appropriate part is harder than it sounds, and Turkish and Argentine Steam users are currently in an uproar over new prices in their territories. A quick glance at the Steam subreddit reveals a number of users lamenting the new situation, declaring "The end of Steam" for Turkish and Argentine users, announcing a return to piracy, and posting some of the most eye-watering spreadsheets mankind has ever conjured.
And to be fair, they have a point. A quick glance at the SteamDB price history for some games reveals a few absolutely staggering price increases. Far Cry 5 has gone up in price by around 240% over its previous Argentine peso cost, from a converted price of $14.12 to $48. Stardew Valley is even more stark, shooting up by 2900% in Argentina. The game's previous peso price shook out to about $0.50, but it now costs exactly the same for users in that region as it does for Americans in the US of A.
To be fair, not every game can measure its price increase in the thousands of percent, but nearly everything has gotten dearer to some extent. Take the year's biggest games, for example. Baldur's Gate 3 has gone up from a converted peso price of $28.25 to $35, an increase of 24%; Starfield has gone up by the same amount, from $33.91 to $42; and Call of Duty rounds out the hat trick with a jump from $56.52 to $70.
Those might not sound like dramatic leaps to readers in the West, but they're sizeable enough. Reliable average wage data is difficult to pin down, but the minimum wage in Turkey is around 11,000 lira, or near $400 at time of writing. Argentina's, meanwhile, is currently about 146,000 pesos, or $415. Neither economic situation is liable to improve in the foreseeable future, making even small price movements feel seismic to Argentine and Turkish buyers when measured in dollars.
Fair play to Diablo 4, frankly, which is the biggest game I could find that's actually managed to go down in price, dropping from a converted peso price of $79.13 to $70, a drop of 11%. There's probably a reason for that, though: Games that don't have a specific price set for the new USD – Latin America and USD – MENA areas (which include, incidentally, 23 countries besides Argentina and Turkey) are simply defaulting to their US dollar prices in the USA. I suspect this is why Diablo has technically dropped in price while Stardew has suddenly valued itself at 2900% of its previous Argentine and Turkish worth.
That's probably no comfort to the many Steam users in those territories who are currently prophesying doom for legitimate PC gaming there. After all, no one has any clue if it will be worth dev time to go in and amend those prices, and even if they do, the new ones might still be out of reach of most Argentine and Turkish consumers, even if they are less astronomical than the US prices.
This is a difficult problem to solve. The volatility of the Argentine and Turkish currencies and relative cheapness of games in those territories is hard for devs to keep up with and made for a situation that region-hoppers could easily exploit, and there are plenty of examples prior to the November 20 change of people who do not live in Argentina or Turkey setting their Steam store to those regions in order to take advantage of the markedly lower prices. It's difficult to envision a solution which doesn't either leave devs open to abuse or legitimate Argentine and Turkish users out in the cold.