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Dead Cells developer forced to raise prices due to abuse of Steam PC's regional pricing structure

Dead Cells: The Queen and the Sea
(Image credit: Motion Twin)

What you need to know

  • Dead Cells developer Motion Twin says it had to raise the price of the game in Argentina and Turkey due to users abusing Steam's regional pricing structure.
  • Regional pricing allows developers to scale the cost of their games down to make them more affordable in countries with weaker currencies, but users have taken advantage of this by falsely changing their account's region.
  • Valve has implemented changes to Steam's regional pricing to combat this issue in the past, though it seems that people have found a new way to exploit the system.

One thing that sets Valve's PC gaming platform Steam apart from many others is that it features regional pricing options. This allows developers to set prices based on the region that the user buying them lives in. Regional pricing is often considered to be a blessing for gamers in countries with weaker currencies since developers can scale the cost of their game in those regions down to make them more affordable. However, the pricing structure has also caused issues in the past, as some users have falsely changed the region of their Steam account to try and take advantage of these lower prices.

Valve has attempted to combat this before by making it so that users can only change their region once every three months, while also requiring that users provide a payment option from the region they say they're from. However, it appears that people have discovered a new way to exploit this system, as Motion Twin, the studio behind the popular rogue-lite platformer Dead Cells, has announced it's been forced to raise the price of the game in Argentina and Turkey due to this "region hopping" exploit affecting its revenue.

"We don't make this choice lightly, but unfortunately a significant portion of sales in the last year came from these two countries, without a corresponding increase in players there," wrote the developers in a news post. "We realize that this will seem unfair to legitimate Steam users in Argentina and Turkey, but we are not a big studio and we are losing a very significant amount of revenue while trying to finance future projects and more Dead Cells content, so we are being forced to act."

(Image credit: Motion Twin)

In the post, Motion Twin explains that in general, the total number of sales in a region will match the total number of players in that region. Argentinian and Turkish sales of Dead Cells, though, have been between three and four times larger than the number of actual players from these countries. Since the lowest price of the game and its DLC "in dollar/euro terms" is in these regions, the studio argues that it's clear this discrepancy is due to a region changing exploit.

Based on SteamDB data, the price hike has increased the cost of Dead Cells in Argentina and Turkey to ARS$ 1349.99 and ₺179.99 ($10) respectively, up from ARS$ 279.99 and ₺40 ($2). Players' reactions to the situation have been mixed overall, with some understanding and supporting the developer's decision and others arguing that it's unfair to legitimate Argentinian and Turkish customers.

Ultimately, the biggest issue is the fact that users are still finding ways to abuse Steam's regional pricing. It's unclear how people are getting around the platform's safeguards, but hopefully Valve launches an investigation and closes whatever loophole they're taking advantage of soon.

Dead Cells is available now on Xbox and PC for $25. We strongly recommend it if you like action-packed platformers and rogue-lites, as it's one of the best PC games that blends these genres together.

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Dead Cells

Dead Cells is an award-winning title from Motion Twin that blends intense platforming, action-packed roguelike progression, and metroidvania exploration into one fantastic experience.

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Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.