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I'm currently living in Japan. These are the games that I want to buy but for some reason (publisher's discretion?) is not available:

  • Valkyria Chronicles
  • Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm series

Is there any legal way to obtain the games? I've read that using VPN may cause a ban since it's a way to bypass restrictions and possibly get the game cheaper, but I'm not in it for the cheaps, because they're completely not in the store. If say, I have a friend from a region where these games are available, can I let him buy the game as a gift and give it to me? Would I be able to download it?

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    Valkyria Chronicles and Naruto not available in Japan? I don't even... – Nolonar Jan 6 '16 at 9:25
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    Gifts can only be played in the regions they were purchased, So you can receive them as a gift but you cannot play them unless you use a VPN, which like you noted is something steam does not want. inline link – Bl00dylicious Jan 6 '16 at 10:09
  • Funny, I didn't have any kind of warning (see my answer). Maybe it depends of the regions? – Puce Jan 6 '16 at 10:21
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    In the case of Valkyria Chronicles, I did like Puce's answer suggests, and had my brother "gift" it to me (last year). Worked like a charm (cleared game once). – Clockwork-Muse Jan 6 '16 at 12:23
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It actually happened to me. There was the full Commandos collection in Steam sales and I couldn't get it because it is not available in Germany (I guess why :/).

I told a (good) friend and he gifted it to me out of the blue. The games are in my library and I can download them. I guess if you don't abuse this it should be ok, but I cannot guarantee it as this is my personal experience so far.

EDIT: So, according the comments, it's important to check the properties of the game in some service like SteamDB, because it could lead to not being able to download a game in certain moment. Example:

  1. Commandos, cannot buy in Germany but can be downloaded from there: Commandos on SteamDB
  2. Dead Rising 2, cannot be bought nor downloaded in Germany (see ProhibitDownloadInCountries): DR2 on SteamDB

Thanks a lot BulliedByMods for the clarifications.

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    Just to add to this: It only works if the package has not a prohibitToRun or ProhibitDownloadInCountries property in the configuration. Best is to check Steam DB before gifting.Example: steamdb.info/app/45770/info Cannot be downloaded in Germany. – user28015 Jan 6 '16 at 10:34
  • Thanks for the clarification there @BulliedByMods. By the way where can I see the information on that website? – IBG Jan 6 '16 at 13:19
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Update additional to Puce's answer. After hours of research, here is 'theoretical way' to determine state of your target game.

TL;DR: Use steamdb.info to confirm package's information, if AllowCrossRegionTradingAndGifting not set to No, your friend might be able to gift that game for you. (Provided that app information does not restrict downloading or playing that game in your region)


Technical Introduction

Technically speaking, steam organizes its store that there are "APP" and "PACKAGE". APP is the game itself, PACKAGE is the way to obtain it. (Buying from webstore/CD-KEY etc) APP itself has no price property set, price properties are set in PACKAGEs.

There are several flags related to region locking:

  • APP's prohibitToRun: Totally cannot launch the game if you are in that region.
  • APP's ProhibitDownloadInCountries: Cannot download the game in that region. But 'might' be able to run it if first flag is not set.
  • PACKAGE's AllowPurchaseFromRestrictedCountries: Along with countries in PurchaseRestrictedCountries field. If AllowPurchaseFromRestrictedCountries=No, PurchaseRestrictedCountries is exclusion list. If AllowPurchaseFromRestrictedCountries=Yes, it is inverted, PurchaseRestrictedCountries is exclusive list. (Only purchasable in these countries)
  • PACKAGE's AllowCrossRegionTradingAndGifting: If=No, additionally does not allow gifting from friend from other region. (This is different from price tier restriction such as gift from RU and cannot play in other region with higher price)

Step to determine

Note: We are not taking VPN/Proxy or price tier restriction into consideration, that is another topic.

  1. Find your game in https://steamdb.info/
  2. Check APP's properties prohibitToRun first, if it is there then probably you cant play anyway.
  3. Check if prohibitToDownload is set alone, then you might be able to run. But in this case we did not own the game yet so that would also block us. (Having the game installed in your laptop in first place is another story)
  4. Browse in to game all PACKAGEs that is on sale (Billing type=Store, status=Available) and look for its 'information' tab.
  5. If AllowPurchaseFromRestrictedCountries=No means you cannot buy or browse it from your region (and probably why ending up in this question anyway). But if AllowCrossRegionTradingAndGifting is not set to 'No'. You might have some luck telling friend to gift this PACKAGE from another region.!!

Case example

Take Evenicle as example: https://steamdb.info/app/955560/info/

Below is the screenshot to its PACKAGE info. Evenicle

  • APP Info does not have any prohibit flag set.
  • PACKAGE is clearly restricted to Asian countries including Japan (Censoring law, publisher, etc). And on top of that it also prohibit cross region gift.

Result for this game:

  • If I live in Thailand, I cannot browse or purchase it. My friend elsewhere, even they can buy for himself, also wont be able to buy and gift it to me due to cross region gift blocked.
  • But the game does not have any prohibit flag set, so 'theoretically' person from US buy and own this game travelling to Japan may still be able to play it. Or me from Thailand travelling to US for vacation, buy and download the game there, fly back to Thailand, I might be able to play as well.

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