Purchase / Bypass Regional Lockouts on Xbox, Playstation, Steam & Origin

Discussion in 'Console Guides' started by Hoffman, Feb 23, 2014.

  1. Hoffman

    Hoffman Addict

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    This is the ultimate all in one guide to purchasing and bypassing regional lockout's, as well as getting around delayed worldwide releases across Xbox One, Xbox 360, Steam, Origin, and Playstation 3/4 online stores.

    We live in an interconnected world, where physical country borders don't exist in the world of the modern day internet. Yet sadly, online gaming stores and game publishers haven't caught up, creating a really unbalanced and sometimes even unfair way of gamers being able to legitimately purchase games. We have situations where some regions get games at half the price of others, or where backwards publishers feel Australians or Europeans need to wait an extra few days, even weeks if not months to get access to the same games that people in North America are playing already.

    While this practice worked in the 1990's, it doesn't work anymore. People don't care what country other games are from, people regularly play together from across the world and engage in both casual and competitive gameplay. For European gamers, logging in and seeing half their friends are playing a game like Titanfall a whole 4 days before they can, for half the price is quite frankly, degrading and unfair.


    Some companies like Microsoft, Bungie and Activision are increasingly starting to release games to the worldwide fan base all at the same time (Examples being Call of Duty, Halo, Gears of War, the Xbox One, all releasing on the same day in all major markets). However, some companies like Sony, or Electronic Arts are run by idiots who haven't managed to adapt to this global connected world.

    EA for example releases all their games like so:
    Tuesday – US / Canada Release
    Thursday – European release (excluding UK, Ireland and Portugal), Australia and New Zealand
    Friday – UK, Ireland, Portugal and any other region's missing.


    They say it's to maximize sales, but for example the UK, US and Australia all share the same language and regularly play in the same gaming clans or talk/discuss in the same gaming forums. Heck, most of the world speaks English. For people to suddenly see their peers, their friends playing games at different days and finding themselves denied is such a bad practice and makes resentment across gamers.

    Even worse, some counties like Germany ban the release of games which contain violence, or anything that mentions their history in the war. Which means unless users purchase games from another region, they will be denied access to some great video games.

    Also another point, sometimes prices between regions just seems ridiculous. Some Australian users were being asked to pay $100 for the same game their American friends can pick up for only $60. Likewise with the UK being asked to spend $90 per game. A lot of it comes down to currency exchange rates and the cost of living in each country, but sometimes it's just publishers trying to milk other countries, charging the maximum they can get away with.

    Thankfully, there are ways to break down this virtual borders that Publishers/Stores have placed up, and in this guide I am going to discuss how to break them down with both the Xbox One, Xbox 360, both Playstation's (3/4) and also the two leading PC Stores (Steam and Origin). For each guide, I will cover how to first purchase games in the US based stores, and then secondly how to break the release date for games which do not have a same-day international release.


    Xbox One
    Requirements to Purchase Games at US prices: None
    Requirements to Unlock Games based on US launch date: None


    Xbox One is hands down the most global friendly console and online store for purchasing games. Purchasing from the US store is as simple as changing a setting on your console, adding a payment method (which can be PayPal account from anywhere in the world, using pre-paid US Xbox Cards which can be purchased easily on the internet or even a credit card using a fake US billing address).

    I've written in more detail in a separate guide the complete process:
    Step by Step Guide to purchasing content from US Xbox Store from any region

    Once you have purchased a game from the US Store, the game will unlock regardless of if it's not available in your real location. At time of writing, Microsoft does not use any Geo-location blocking practices on the Xbox One. If later down the line this changes, you can use the VPN guide which is below for the Xbox 360 method.

    Please also note, the Xbox One does NOT region encode any games, and the PAL/NTSC standard doesn't exist in the 720p/1080p world so you will have no problem purchasing games from any region. However for Movies and Music, this is another story as content publishers insist on regional lock-outs.


    Xbox 360
    Requirements to Purchase Games at US prices: Secondary account setup with US details
    Requirements to Unlock Games based on US launch date: Secondary account setup with US details, VPN


    Unlike the Xbox One, the Xbox 360 is a little trickier to break the region locks on. The first and biggest problem is this console has regional locking which is used in a lot of games (not all however). But this does mean you need to do a little research into the game in question to make sure it will work on your region's console. Some Digiex members ended up owning multiple consoles from different regions just to be able to play all the games out there.

    To purchase games from another region, you have to setup a new Xbox Live account and set the location and billing address to the relevant country. Once this is done, you also need to buy some pre-paid Xbox Live cards for that region in question. Please note, old Microsoft Points cards are usually region locked, as are real currency cards which came out in 2013.

    Even once you have gone through all this to get access to purchase games from a different marketplace region, you still need to go ahead and sign up for a VPN service as the download server's on Xbox 360 Marketplace do check IP's and will block you downloading from a different country.

    Digiex member Insanenutter has written a fantastic and detailed guide on how to complete this process:

    Xbox 360 VPN setup for Xbox Live - Buy DLC & Games on Demand

    The one good side to Xbox 360 purchases though, is once the game is purchased on your console every gamertag / users of that console can play it. Therefore purchasing on a secondary account won't stop you from loading it up on your primary account and playing.


    Steam
    Requirements to Purchase Games at US prices: Friend(S) based in the US, PayPal
    Requirements to Unlock Games based on US launch date: VPN


    It's important to stress with Steam that purchasing a game from the US Store and unlocking a game based on the US launch date are NOT connected. You can purchase games from your local region's Steam store then just skip to the second part of this guide on how to unlock it based on the US launch.

    The easiest way to purchase games at the US prices on Steam is to just take advantage of a friend or family member who lives in the United States. Steam supports 'gifting' of purchases, and does not region lock this allowing someone in the US to purchase a game at their US price and then gift it to your Steam account which could be based in Europe, Australia or even the Middle east. To make it even better, Steam lets people use PayPal to purchase so it's just a case of sending the full amount of the game (plus TAX!) to your US based contact who can then just use that balance to pay for the game straight in Steam (and even refund you any leftover). If you don't have any US friends, there's plenty of friendly US based Digiex members who will happily help, or ask on your preferred gaming forum.

    However please take note of the tax comment I made early, while in Europe for example it's standard for the price of a product in a store to already contain tax, America is a bit weird in that it adds tax only at purchase so a game for $60 could become $68 depending on if your US contact is based in a state that charges VAT/Sales Tax). Make sure you factor that in deciding if it's cheaper to pick up in the US or in your own local region.

    Now to unlock a game early, based on the US launch date does require the use of the VPN, and I must stress that Steam's Terms of Use does disallow the use of VPN's. However at time of writing, people have done this trick for years and no one has been banned yet, but ultimately there is a risk and you have been warned.

    If you havent got a provider yet, I strongly recommend NordVPN. If you use the coupon code "2YDeal2017" you can get 2 years service for only $79.99 which is a massive steal. I picked NordVPN because of its zero logging policy, it's Netflix US friendly as well as P2P friendly while operating out of Panama meaning DMCA and Blocking Streams just doesnt happen.

    Once setup, select a US based server and then load up Steam. If the game is released in the US (regardless of if your account is say European and you bought it on the European store) it will unlock for you. You don't have to use FlyVPN, you can use any VPN providers out there that will allow you to use a US based region.

    It's important to note, that once you disconnect from the VPN and reconnect Steam from your non-American IP address the game will in most cases RE-LOCK! The best way to handle this, is once you have the game unlocked, set Steam into Offline Mode and then disconnect the VPN. You can then play offline up until the game officially releases in your region.


    There is one down-side however, by putting Steam into offline mode if the game uses Steamwork's for multiplayer you will not be able to play online. However if it uses its own online system or a third-parties then there is nothing stopping you from playing online.
    One final note, I wouldn't recommend disconnecting from the VPN and re-connecting to Steam off the VPN for at least 12 hours otherwise it will look really suspicious. It's physically impossible to be say in the US then 5 minutes later be in Europe. If Valve ever investigated your account usage, it will be obvious you used a VPN and that you weren't legitimately in the US at the time of unlock. Be sensible with usage. However like I said early, people have used this trick for many years and Valve to date haven't banned a single person from doing this, or tried to block this loop-hole so they are likely turning a blind eye (as you have paid after all).

    Just be aware, if the game has online requirements or online servers, as the game is not yet out in your region you will likely be connecting to US based servers which will introduce a bit of unexpected latency.


    Origin
    Requirements to Purchase Games at US prices: VPN
    Requirements to Unlock Games based on US launch date: VPN


    It's important to stress with Origin that purchasing a game from the US Store and unlocking a game based on the US launch date are NOT connected. You can purchase games from your local region's Origin store then just skip to the second part of this guide on how to unlock it based on the US launch.

    Origin is one of the most challenging one's, it least for purchasing games. As a game license is tied to an individual user and not sharing amongst all users of your PC, you will not be able to just make a secondary account and then play on your primary (unless this doesn't matter to you). Also unlike Steam, gifting across regions doesn't exist.

    But if you wished to go ahead and purchase games from another region, not only would your EA account details need to be registered with a US billing address, but you would also need to use a VPN as well as the store's use Location blocking tactics. As such, there's not many people doing this as it's a lot of haste to save a few bucks (remember, PC games are a lot cheaper than console games anyways) but it is possible if your persistent, setup an account with US details and used a US VPN to purchase.

    Now to unlock a game early, based on the US launch date does require the use of the VPN.

    If you havent got a provider yet, I strongly recommend NordVPN. If you use the coupon code "2YDeal2017" you can get 2 years service for only $79.99 which is a massive steal. I picked NordVPN because of its zero logging policy, it's Netflix US friendly as well as P2P friendly while operating out of Panama meaning DMCA and Blocking Streams just doesnt happen.

    Once setup, select a US based server and then load up Origin. If the game is released in the US (regardless of if your account is say European and you bought it on the European store) it will unlock for you. You don't have to use FlyVPN, you can use any VPN providers out there that will allow you to use a US based region.


    However one good side to Origin, is once a game is unlocked at the time of writing they do not have the ability to re-lock. So once you fired up your game for the first time and confirmed it's working. You can disconnect the VPN, re-log into Origin and play as normal.

    Just be aware, if the game has online requirements or online servers, as the game is not yet out in your region you will likely be connecting to US based servers which will introduce a bit of unexpected latency.


    Playstation 3/4
    Requirements to Purchase Games at US prices: Secondary account setup with US details
    Requirements to Unlock Games based on US Launch date: Secondary account setup with US details


    Playstation has always been a lot more region friendly, at least until the Xbox One came out and showed everyone how it should be done. However, it's still relatively easy to access a different region's store and purchasing games and downloading them.

    All you need to do is sign up a secondary Playstation account, but this time putting your region as United States and putting a US billing address (either real or fake) onto it. Once done, login to it on your console and you will be signed into the US based store. You can either add pre-paid codes which you can easily buy on the internet which you can use to purchase content, or attempt to add your credit card. It's a bit hit or miss with regards to credit cards, as the billing address doesn't match. Some readers have had no problem, while others have struggled.

    A few other important things to note: The Playstation Store doesn't use any geo-location blocking, so a VPN is not required. Games are not region locked, however saved games weirdly usually are. So if you purchase a US copy of the game, you can't for some reason then load it into a European copy of the game down the line. Providing the game in question doesn't block worldwide internet play (Army of Two for example did!), then you will have no problem playing with others in your region on Playstation multiplayer.

    Please also note you cannot switch a region on an account, even if you actually moved countries! Therefore if your current account is say German, you would have to make a secondary account for the US Store, a third for the Japanese store etc.


    Hope this guide helps, if anyone has any questions then please just post below and one of us will be happy to help you.
     
    Trebor, Rick and InsaneNutter like this.

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