The history of Steam Unpowered (1€ ≠ $1)

It all started in 2008. Valve introduced regional currencies in the Steam store, at first as a beta to join for volunteers only. Back then everyone thought that $1=1€ was just a simple mistake in the new script on the beta site, there were naturally a lot of posts concerning prices especially in the Euro zone. Hell, countries that didn’t even use Euro in the first place were forced to use Euro in the beta as well – it has stayed like this until now and it’s almost 2014. Some guys posted about 1:1 exchange ratio, I’m not sure if any mods or Valve employees posted replied back then but I suppose they haven’t.

After just few days Valve pushed the currency system in the Steam store on December 18th 2008. That was probably very surprising to a lot of gamers around the globe. As far as I remember there was rage and anger on the Steam forums. I’ve created the original post concerning the currency exchange rates. You can still discuss it here:

Looks like $1 = €1 after all

(created on December 17th 2008, 03:08 PM)

Long story short people discussed the prices in that topic. If anyone created any separate topic or even mentioned price differences in game sub-forums they were either removed, edited, locked or the users got banned (if they were aggressively reposting).

My posts were edited, removed, I’ve got temporary bans on forums for posting links or saying things they didn’t like. That’s understandable considering they are only running a business.

That’s why I’ve had enough of it.

I’ve bought the domain SteamUnpowered.eu on December 23rd 2008. I’ve picked the EU domain just because I’m an EU citizen (pozdrowienia z Polski! :D) and basically the worst and highest price differences occurred in Europe (well maybe Australia had it worse…). After I’ve created a simple website we’ve had thousands of views per day, server couldn’t handle it. So basically we’ve got audience, posted a lot of things Valve didn’t like. We could speak our minds free there!

When I’ve posted the link to SteamUnpowered.eu in the original forum thread (in the first post – I could still edit it – I’ve stated that I will no longer discuss things when I’m being silenced) they have instantly banned me, removed the link after few minutes and that was it. I was posting there under strandedEU after that for a while but I’ve had enough of it and simply stopped.

After few days lots of people joined our Steam group (which was created on December 18th 2008) and right now we’ve nearly reached 30,000 members. This just shows that there are still thousands of people out there who aren’t pleased with the pricing system on Steam and probably never will be.

What we’ve done about it?

We’ve contacted developers, gaming websites, posted on forums – worldwide! We’ve basically tried to make it loud. And we did.

I would like to thank people who helped us in the begining and stayed with us for a long even though they are no longer actively participating in what we’re doing: FredWP, slay, TZer0, Gokburt, Rad-86, Slava, tkossak, secufox, tor, Rhonin the wizard, Dragoon and many more, I’m sorry if you forgot to mention your name :)

Here are some articles that are still online:

Steam “Local” European Currency – Valve’s biggest mistake!

Steam Goes European – Prices Go Crazy

Valve decides that Europeans don’t get screwed over enough when they buy games

Steam launches European beta
Bit-Tech

Double Fine on Steam’s European Pricing
PikiGeek

and so on… you can find more of those in the original Steam forums topic

Some indie devs replied to our e-mails (for example the guy from CD Projekt Red). Some developers told us that it’s actually Valve who sets the prices (but devs can still adjust it if they want), some said they are only suggesting the price. Some even said that the publisher has to accept the price in various regions. All in all we are still not sure, this haven’t changed much since 2008, but we can only assume someone wants to make more money.

Time was passing by, Valve didn’t really want to comment on the subject. They’ve just introduced the currency change to Steam store and that’s it. The only good thing they did was adjusting the price in various European countries for their games and they’ve simply divided us into 3 European Tiers – which was not fair at all, considering some European countries aren’t even a part of European Union and they shouldn’t have € in the Steam store in the first place (like for example Norway).

That’s why in 2009 we’ve decided to contact the European Commission – I think someone suggested this on various occasions on either Steam forums or our site. They’ve responded to hundreds of our e-mails! Although it seems that they’ve misunderstood us and basically said that Valve can do anything they want. Read the details and their first response here. Did we try once more?

Yes. In 2012 I’ve sent them a letter (by snail mail!). We’ve started a petition, still couldn’t change a thing… according to the reply from the European Commission:

If Valve decides to offer a product solely within the UK this does generally not amount to an infringement of EU competition rules.

Read about it here. They’ve even explained pricing, availability of products and more, you can read about it here.

That was probably our final chapter of trying to change what we have on Steam since 2008. We just can’t do anything and we should all just stop wasting our energy on trying to do something. Do we have alternatives? Sure we do! Read below :)

What we’re doing now

Currently we’ve been focusing on providing reliable alternatives to Steam – mostly the stores where you can buy games that can be redeemed on Steam. You can find the good ones in our newly rearranged Steam Alternatives section. We’ve been actually doing that for a while now, maybe not in 2009 but close to 2010, I believe, we’ve started posting deals from competitors just to take some sales of Valve’s store. Because fuck greed and discrimination!

We occasionally post some interesting news from the gaming world or bitch about something we don’t like. We also hate Windows 8, because it sucks. Seriously.

We also like to giveaway stuff. As you may have noticed we’ve been posting lotteries, competitions (for Patricia mostly :D) and random giveaways for several years now. Why? I have no idea why, we just like to do that. Earlier in the past we’ve been looking for many sponsors that could give us a few games (or even devs with beta access) in exchange for banners, links to their site or a little bit of promotion. Right now we’re trying to fund every giveaway on our own or with the help of our friends of sites like Steam Prices, Is There Any Deal? or CDKeyPrices.

Few years back we’ve created forums so you guys could actually discuss various Steam alternatives and warn others if something was wrong. Then they died, the script of the forums was fucked and basically it was better to shut them down. I’ve recently fixed the script and made the forums read-only just in case someone’s interested in browsing.

Would you like us to create new forum system on the site? Vote in the poll below!

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Should we bring back forums?

View Results

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The website and designs

The website wouldn’t be doing so fine without the help of few friends from HLDS.pl – many thanks to them especially to _KaszpiR_ (the lottery script works thanks to this guy), Zuko, trawiator, luki and few other people (sorry if I forgot your name!)! Since then our website used couple of designs, the first one was pretty simple, black-light-purple website that didn’t even allow comments at the time I think. The header had some sort of space in the back as far as I know. In late 2009 we’ve switched to WordPress. And since then it’s been running pretty smooth with a couple of problems now and then (we’ve changed the hosting provider after first 2-3 years, it couldn’t handle the traffic). The current design doesn’t really differ much from the one from 2010, which you can see here:

2008

2009

2010

2011

 2012

2013

As you can see not much have changed since 2009. We’re still using the light-blue theme but just a little bit different. Some people hate that, say it’s too bright. Oh well.

Additionally we are the owners of SteamUnpowered.com, bought that just in case someone wanted to take it over and scam people.

The future of our group

We do have plans for the future. I can only tell that we always wanted to:

  • visit big public game events like GamesCom and ask around about prices and region locks
  • talk to Valve representatives but that’s day dreaming

What can we do? We’ve been thinking about couple of new things we could do. First of all, we could compare platforms and stores in mini-reviews (video reviews?). We could review various Steam alternative stores, maybe organize some sort of special discounts only for you guys. We will eventually come up with something new and interesting otherwise you guys will die out of boredom.

OK that was a long post, time to get some celebration drinks and count time until January. I might disappear in January for a few days but that’s a totally different story…

Thank you!

Thank you so much for visiting and staying 5 years with us.

Remember to join our Christmas Lottery and to participate in our drawing contest (just draw something funny and you’ll have a chance to win free Steam games, plus you will make my girl smile :D).

Peace the fuck out and play some games, eat some pizza and drink some unhealthy drinks. Christmas is just around the corner, celebrate! I know I will.

Talk to you later.

stranded

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No votes yet.

stranded

I run this place! :D

This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. rottencat

    Still remember like it was yesterday. The original Steam forums thread was hundreds of pages long. Banning you did not help but rather poured oil into fire. And funnily enough the thread did not want to die. It was on top most of the times and as the time passed moved down a bit but there was always someone who made a new reply post (sometimes me) and it was back on top :D So Valve got desperate and locked the thread. But the change had already happen. I truly believe that Valve’s currency scam and your original thread was a moment in gaming history when cracks in Valve began to show. Before that the image of Valve and Newell used to be impenetrable, they used to enjoy overwhelming community support and suddendly people started to question it. Maybe once great gaming company and maker of Half-Life is nothing more than an old usless teflon pan?
    Steamunpowered earned a proud place in gaming history as a fine example of community grown partisanism against greed and corruption within the gaming infustry. Not even Valve could withstand it. Steampower tends to corrupt and absolute steampower corrupts absolutely.

    Now, after 10 years, a lot has changed. We have a big new gaming industry bag of issues to cover and expectation for steamunpowered to become a next level vigilant central hub for this puropse.

    Personally I would love to see steamunpowered working together with some great critical folks in Youtube and helping their work more easier to find.

    Thank you Stranded and the team for staying strong. Long live SU!

    No votes yet.
  2. Gokburt

    Great post stranded! I remember back when they introduced 1€=1$, I was so pissed, and haven’t bought a lot of games on Steam since (only if they had equal or lower price than in the US)
    It’s a while since posted an article here, but in the future if something pisses me off, or make me very happy I will probably write some more.

    now if only someone could fix the comment system…

    No votes yet.
  3. jimmy

    Really good job guys.
    We dont need gifts or deals, just talk about alternatives and keep talk about “BAD” steam. That video reviews of steam alternatives will be good.
    Maybe i will start some blog about it, just because i hate that steam behaviour :).
    .

    No votes yet.
  4. Guest

    I cant be believe i have your Steam group right on my profile for 5 years now! Thats so crazy!
    I
    love you guys! In that time you did such a big work! You gave us all
    kind of news..Like Discovery channel, but not for animals…well…yeah
    about Steam animals.
    Now i almost lost a hope for same prices for
    everybody on Steam, but you know what ? Fuck it! We have you guys, and
    we have many Steam alternatives (especially i love ‘isthereanydeal’).
    Cant waif for your visits at big public game events or teis with Valve.
    Big big big THANK YOU for all your hard work trying to do something good for us.
    And as always – Windows 8 sux!!

    No votes yet.
  5. Kwai

    I cant be believe i have your Steam group right on my profile for 5 years now! Thats so crazy!
    I love you guys! In that time you did such a big work! You gave us all kind of news..Like Discovery channel, but not for animals…well…yeah about Steam animals.
    Now i almost lost a hope for same prices for everybody on Steam, but you know what ? Fuck it! We have you guys, and we have many Steam alternatives (especially i love ‘isthereanydeal’).
    Cant waif for your visits at big public game events or teis with Valve.
    Big big big THANK YOU for all your hard work trying to do something good for us.
    And as always – Windows 8 sux!

    No votes yet.
  6. Xriuk

    So Patricia is your girlfirend, yeah? ^.^

    No votes yet.

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