A small number of you may or may not have noticed lately (either via glancing at TF2 item prices on the official wiki or live in Russia and use Steam), that Steam recently added roubles as a payment option, rather than remaining as dollars. For example:
At the current exchange rate, 799 руб comes to about 26 bucks (FYI, in the US, Driver San Francisco is currently 50 dollars - so suk it, America). So this begs the question: Why did Steam change their payment option to facilitate roubles, when they could sneakily overcharge on the dollar front and essentially profit off the exchange rate (e.g. If the Witcher 2 is $19.99, it may be worth less than that in actual roubles, but Steam just rounds it up to a nice n' friendly .99), not to mention the fact that there are less numbers involved (e.g. 40 bucks is 1225 roubles)? Or, admittedly, it could be the other way around.
That reason, GBers, has finally been revealed. On the front page of the Russian Steam client, this appeared today.
These kiosks are, like, the GREATEST THING IN EXISTENCE. For all of Russia's faults, they still manage to periodically come out with things like this magical device - seemingly delivered from the gods themselves. And. they. are. everywhere. Why they don't have them in the UK or US continues to baffle me (actually, I think it's a patent issue)
But what does this ubiquitous innocuous box do, you ask? Everything. Forget the PS3. This does everything. Pay as you go mobile phone? Check. Internet payment for all the obscure providers in the city? Check. Utility bills? Check. Police fines? Check. (No, seriously, you can pay for your speeding tickets via these things, rather than standing in a long ass queue at the bank). In other words:
And the final cherry on the Valve cake? This effectively gets around the old chestnut of additional credit card charges (and more importantly, any worries that your details may be at risk). All you do is walk up to one of those bad boys, punch in your user id, feed that glorious beast some cash, then walk away like this guy.
All of you may now defect from the West with a clear conscience.
Edit: The official statement
Xsolla And Valve Announce Cash Payments to Steam in Russia
Press Releases - Valve
Gamers Rejoice! Available immediately, over 38 million players in the Russian Federation can add value directly to their Steam Account Wallet via their local cash kiosk.
LOS ANGELES, CA- October 20, 2011
Xsolla, creators of the world’s largest payment network, and Valve, creators of best-selling game franchises (such as Counter-Strike, Half-Life, Left 4 Dead, Portal, and Team Fortress) and leading technologies (such as Steam and Source), today introduced cash payments to Steam from kiosks throughout Russia.
Over 450,000 cash kiosks throughout Russia now offer gamers the ability to add value to their account’s Steam Wallet, enabling millions of gamers to purchase, download and play their favorite games using Steam, the world’s largest social entertainment platform.
Valve chose Xsolla, the leader in game monetization solutions in Russia, to help them make Steam more accessible to gamers in the Russian market.
“We are thrilled to make Steam more accessible to the Russian market, and we believe Xsolla is an ideal partner to help make this happen,” stated Jason Holtman of Valve (Steam).
Albert Donahue, Vice-President & Co-Founder of Xsolla commented: “Xsolla's partnership with Valve (creator of Steam) will enable millions of gamers in the Russian Federation to enjoy Steam. Steam revolutionized the way games are distributed and experienced- Not only are players able to enjoy over 1500 games through Steam, but they are also able to enjoy the experience with friends and other gamers via the Steam Community, which has over 30 million players. We are excited to partner with Valve to bring Steam to Russia.”
Xsolla specializes in online games, providing localized in-game payment solutions for global reach. Xsolla has been developing monetization tools for MMO, Social, Mobile and Casual Games for 6 years. Xsolla's headquarters are in Los Angeles, California with offices in Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus. Xsolla partners with over 200 payment service providers offering credit and pre-paid cards, mobile payments, premium SMS, E-wallets, cash and e-cash, payment kiosks and offers — all within one platform- with no installation, currency exchange or chargeback fees.
Xsolla works with more than 300 publishers worldwide, including Gameforge, Bigpoint, Wargaming, Aeria Games, InnoGames, Travian Games and more. For more information, visit Xsolla online at www.xsolla.com.
Four. Hundred. And. Fifty. Thousand. Machines.