Steam’s Anti-Internationalism: The Story of an International Student Attempting to Buy a Game

As the title might suggest, this post will be concerned mainly with my own experiences when using Steam for the very first time. It worked well in the beginning. I went to the Steam website, downloaded the program/thing, and created my account. Then, I prepared to buy the first game we were supposed to: Papers, Please. Little did I know that everything would become very difficult.

The thing is, I am an international student. I live in another country whenever I’m not here,Flag map and, as such, my cards belong to another country. The country in my billing address is most definitely NOT the United States. So, when I was filling out my billing address, I put in the other country. Steam immediately recognized that as an error. See, the thing is, when you buy a game on Steam, it compares your IP address to whatever your billing address is. Steam realized that while my IP address was in the United States, my billing address was not, and it deduced that I was trying to trick it in some way.

At this point, I realized what the problem was, and I switched to the other country’s Steam. Unfortunately, the same problem persisted. Basically, unless your IP address and your billing address match up, you’re not allowed to buy games. Undoubtedly this was a precaution to keep people from using stolen or forged cards, from tricking the system, but in my case, I just wanted to buy this $10 game for class. I was reduced to tears of frustration while I attempted over and over again to get Steam to accept my card, but to no avail.

My solution was, contact Steam Support. Apparently, in case you guys don’t know, you need to create a Steam Support account, separately from your regular Steam account. I did not know this, but eventually realized what was wrong. So, I created my Steam Support account, and sent off my question into the recesses of email-land, hoping for a response soon.

And then I waited… and waited… and waited…

And then I went shopping with my friends. In the middle of our search for ice cream and Easter candy and things we didn’t really need: LO AND BEHOLD! There was a stand filled with gift cards for everything you could possibly imagine. I held my breath. Was there such a thing as a Steam giftcard at the local CVS? The answer was, yes, there is! A quick note out there, it’s quite hidden, way at the bottom of all the other vidoegaming cards. But I found the card, bought it, took it home, and used it on my account.

I danced with relief when I saw it work, and was then able to buy the game for myself.

So, in conclusion, if you’re on foreign soil and find that Steam hates your card and its country of origin, just buy a giftcard, because they do exist! And they do work!

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