Certain Steam games are restricted by country or region. Additionally, some countries have restrictive censorship laws that prevent you from accessing Steam altogether. These restrictions are collectively known as geo-restrictions.
For players who wish to access restricted Steam content, using VPN technology to change the region of your network may seem like a logical fix to geo-restriction… but it is not without its pitfalls. Let’s talk about the dos and don’ts of changing your region on Steam, including Steam VPN rules.
Change your region on Steam with a VPN – easy steps
Steam requires you to select your region when you create your account and to verify that you are actually in that region.
This means that to change the region, you will need to activate a VPN to mask your location, then verify your eligibility to transact on Steam within the rules of that country. Again, the steps to do this are easy, but in practice it can be quite difficult.
The steps are as follows:
- Choose a reputable VPN service. We recommend NordVPN, now 69% OFF!
- Connect to your chosen VPN server.
- Log into your Steam account.
- Click on “Account Details.”
- Click on “Update Store Country.”
- Enter a new billing address in the selected country and click “Apply Country Change.”
Your new billing address will have to match the billing address on your payment method. As such, you need a payment method with a billing address in the country whose geo-restricted content you wish to access! Hence—easier said than done.
Is using a VPN against Steam Terms of Service?
Yes. The Steam VPN rules are very clear. Using a VPN is absolutely against Steam Terms of Service, Steam parent company Valve reserves the right to suspend or permanently ban your account if you are caught using Steam with a VPN.
But if you want to play geo-restricted games on Steam, a VPN is pretty much your only option. Just understand that you run the risk of an account ban.
If you’re going to risk it, it behooves you to pick the right VPN provider, one sophisticated enough to avoid a Steam VPN ban.
Some VPNs slow down (“throttle”) your internet connection. In addition to finding a VPN that can fool Steam, look for a VPN with fast data speed to avoid interruptions or slow game loading.
Benefits of using a VPN for Steam
1. Access geo-restricted content
As we mentioned above, some games aren’t accessible in certain countries. Some countries exercise heavy-handed censorship policies that limit the use of Steam altogether.
Additionally, some local area networks (LAN) may be armed to restrict access to gaming platforms like Steam. Examples include libraries, schools, hotels, and offices.
With a VPN, you can access Steam content that you would otherwise be barred from accessing based on your geographic location or LAN restrictions.
2. Access geo-restricted deals and discounts
Some countries charge different prices for Steam games. If you activate a VPN in that country, you may be able to get the same game at a cheaper price than the one available in your current location.
Remember, to change the region, your billing address has to match the one on your payment information. Otherwise, you don’t get to change your region or access cheaper prices that might be available in other regions.
One possible workaround is to buy Steam gift cards and gift them to yourself. This is an effective workaround that doesn’t involve opening up a bank account or acquiring a credit card in the target country.
3. Maintain online privacy
Browsing with a VPN has advantages over and above access to geo-restricted content. People have sacrificed a great deal of privacy by committing to regular web browsing, often without realizing it. VPNs allow users to reclaim some of that privacy.
VPNs encrypt your browsing activity, blocking it from prying eyes. Obviously, this means hackers and potential data thieves, but also government agencies, internet service providers, and Big Data companies that try to collect and then sell data about your browsing activity.
Best VPNs for Steam
When selecting a VPN to use with steam, take into account the following considerations:
- Good speed
- Unlimited bandwidth, no data throttling
- Strong encryption
- Servers in your desired countries
- Free trial or money-back guarantee, in case it doesn’t work.
Here are the best VPNs to try and change your region on Steam without catching a Steam VPN ban.
NordVPN uses military-grade encryption and a host of other features to keep your browsing identity private. It’s lightning-fast, with the option to get a dedicated static IP address for an additional fee, and no throttling or bandwidth limitations, so it won’t slow down your gaming.
It’s one of the most reliable VPN services, with over 5,700 servers in 59 countries. It also comes with a reasonable price tag and a 30-day, no-questions-asked money-back guarantee.
To learn more about NordVPN, see our NordVPN review.
ExpressVPN speeds are blazingly fast with unlimited bandwidth, so you should have no trouble using it to play games online.
With an impressive 3,000+ servers spread across 90+ countries, ExpressVPN is also one of the most secure and sophisticated VPNs on the market. One subscription allows you to install it on up to five devices, and it comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Make sure you don’t miss our ExpressVPN review.
3. CyberGhost VPN
CyberGhost distinguishes itself by having a longer money-back guarantee than its competitors — 45 days instead of 30. That’s more time for you to try it out and see if it will work with Steam to your satisfaction.
It has a good reputation — up to 7 devices per account, good speeds with no data limitations, and a stable network of over 6,500 servers in 89 countries. It also offers static unique IP addresses (for a fee) and sophisticated encryption to avoid detection.
For more information, read our CyberGhost VPN review.
For “team” gamers, Surfshark offers the advantage of unlimited devices on one subscription. You and a whole cohort of your friends can game together with one VPN subscription.
Surfshark boasts impressive speeds, unlimited bandwidth, over 1,700 servers across 58 countries, and a 30-day money-back guarantee.
For more Surfshark features, check our Surfshark VPN review.
The 100-pound gorilla of PC gaming, Steam can be a fantastic and affordable platform if you are in the right place. But it can also be expensive and disappointing if you are in the wrong one. Certain countries restrict access to content or limit gamers to paying exorbitant prices.
This can be a difficult problem to circumvent — Steam requires your account region to match your billing address and the geography of the network you are using. This can also complicate things for gamers who travel and want to enjoy their favorite games on the road.
A fast, sophisticated virtual private network (VPN) can change the location of your server and allow you to access the gaming rules and prices of a different region. Use them — at your own risk!
Why can’t I change my country on Steam?
Steam is committed to restricting users from accessing content and prices that are not available in their country of residence. This is for a variety of reasons, including government censorship and business deals.
Can Steam ban you for using a VPN?
Yes. Steam VPN rules are very strict. Using a VPN is against the Terms of Service that you must agree to in order to set up a Steam account. If Steam catches you using a VPN, your account could be suspended or earn a permanent Steam VPN ban.
Why is my Steam region-locked?
Purchases made in certain regions may only be accessible in certain regions. For example, Steam purchases made in Russia are only playable in Russia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan.
Why are Steam prices different in different countries?
Steam itself does not impose price variations. Distributors have complete control over the prices they offer over the platform. Distributors also value customers differently based on spending power (among other things). E.g.: UK gamers are seen as more wealthy and therefore the distributor may charge higher prices to UK gamers.