How it sucks to be a PC gamer in Japan

You may consider Japan is one of the best country to live in if you are a gamer. This is true.(If you are otaku of course) Most of JRPGs are produced in Japan, some world’s the most famous gaming companies are found in Japan, Eroges are almost exclusive for Japanese and there are gaming arcades in every single town. It could be better place than heaven if you are otaku gamer.

However, the heaven for gamers will turn into hell if you are a PC gamer. I’ll explain why.

Almost no Japanese games are available on STEAM

This is one of the worst reason why it sucks to be a PC gamer in Japan. As you may know, some Japanese companies, such as: SEGA, KONAMI, TECMO KOEI GAMES, publishes games on Steam. You know what? NONE of games published by these companies are available on STEAM. You can’t purchase games developed by your own country, in your own language. You can not even activate Metal Gear Rising if you are connecting from Japanese IP address, which means if you felt sorry to me for reading this article and decided to send me a gift of Metal Gear Rising, I can NOT activate it because I live in Japan.


Imagine if Valve finished Half Life 3, but decided not to sell it to people who are connecting from U.S. IP address. You will be outraged(If you are meh, replace it with Halo 6, S.T.A.L.K.E.R.2 or anything you love). That is what is happening in Japan. If you wish to play games developed or published by those companies listed above, you have to purchase physical copy for PS4, PS3, Xbox or Xbone.

I have absolutely no idea why they are doing this. I would purchase MGS:R for $30 if I can play it on PC while used copy of MGR for PS3 is available for as low as $6. They are somehow refusing Japanese to pay for them, ignoring cash cow.

I once contacted those companies, but all reply I got was “This is not our problem, ask STEAM”, “We consider it”, or no reply. This have to be stopped. I once asked directly to Kojima Production’s twitter account to see if MGR will be available on Steam, but the reply was “There’s no information for that.”

My biggest concern for now is that if MGS5 will be available for global price on Steam for Japanese. Since MGR is not available nor activate-able for Japanese, MGS5 will likely be banned for Japanese as well. I tweeted Kojima Hideo directly to ask if MGS5 will be available for Japanese, but I probably won’t get reply unless my mention get re-tweeted million times or something.


Even some Japanese Indie games are not available on Steam as well. Fairy Bloom Freesia is one of these. This game is developed in Japanese by Japanese, and published by Capcom US and not available for purchase for Japanese. On developer’s website, they have statement about this issue. According to this, they contacted publisher to make it available for Japanese, but it was refused due to Capcom US’s intention.


Most games published by Japanese companies are a rip off

If you are Australian, you may understand this. Most games published by Japanese companies are a rip off. Here are some examples.

Call of Duty Black Ops 2(and most CoD series) is $99.99 (Doesn’t even include Japanese) and Dead Rising 3 is $62.99 while $44.90 in U.S., and so on…

Well, these rip offs are very common nowadays for Steam users living outside of U.S., so it won’t surprise you. We do understand that every countries have different currency rate, minimum wages. Something economic stuffs are pushing steam or developer/publisher to rip off. However,how about this: Thief is $49.99 while U.S. is $29.99, but for this game, Square Enix deleted Japanese language and selling “Japanese Language Pack” as DLC for $19.99. This DLC only appears if you are connecting from Japan. If you wish to play this game subtitled, you have to pay total of $69.98! That is one of the cheapest idea I have heard! They would do so well if they were ISP or Telecommunications company.

Dark Souls 2 is one of the worst as well. Dark Souls 2 is $79.99 while U.S. price is $49.99. Unlike titles above, this game was developed by Japanese company in Japanese. If Square Enix assumed that prices are higher because of translation fee, it is understandable (I still am not going to purchase them though), but for Dark Souls 2, it has higher price for no reason. Not only the price, they somehow deleted Black Armor Weapons Pack for Japanese. The weapon pack gives you some extra items at the start of the game. Those weapon won’t give you any advantage as the weapons are so weak, but it is pain to know that I cannot get them for being Japanese.


Some games are just abandoned

Here’s another example how bad the situation is. Support for the game Mad Max is just abandoned.

If you purchase this game from Japan, you have to pay 3 times the U.S. price. You also have to play in crappy censored version. These are one of the problems too, but the real serious problem for this game is that this game’s support is just abandoned and you get less bugfix and no DLC at all.


VPN won’t solve the problem

Some people suggested me to use VPN to purchase those blocked games. It works sometime, but not all the time.

It is not recommended to use VPN to purchase games on Steam from Japan as Japanese for some reasons.

1.It risks your account.

Although not many people cares about it and using VPN to purchase blocked games, using VPN on Steam is not allowed by Valve. It means it risks your account, and I know a guy who got banned & lost all his games for it. Purchasing keys at game key store and use VPN to activate is not okay as well.

2.Some games have two different versions

Some games, like Dark souls 2 has different versions. If you purchase Dark souls 2 from Japan, you get “Dark Souls 2 JP”. It contains Japanese Language. If you purchase Dark Souls 2 from North America, you get “Dark souls 2” It DOES NOT contain Japanese language.

Yes. Publishers know that Japanese consumers can use VPN to purchase games cheaper, so they separated the game into different versions, and deleted Japanese.

3.You will need U.S. issued credit card and address.

If you managed to install VPN on your computer, it is not yet over. You will need U.S. issued credit card and address to purchase. Well, this can be passed by purchasing VISA gift card and entering fake address, but since using VPN on Steam is forbidden, I don’t recommend it if you love your game library.


Japanese PC games are way tooooo expensive.

This probably is the reason why some Japanese games on Steam are so expensive. Because PC market in Japan is small for its popularity of consoles (Console games were 4 times popular than PC games in 2009, maybe more in 2014), PC games cost a lot more than average global price.

For example, A-train 9 is starting from 6,800 yen($68) to 10,000 yen($100) with all the DLCs. Still better than Thief or Dark Souls 2? No. The game was released in 2010 and it still costs $53 for standard edition. 2010 is the year Fallout New Vegas, Civilization V, Starcraft 2 were released! How can 4 years old game be sold at full price?!

By the way, A-train 9 is available on Steam also, so if you love company managing game like Cities in Motion, you might want to try it. It doesn’t contain Japanese language though. Its funny that translating Japanese game into English and German made the game cheaper.


Another example is Nobunaga’s Ambition. This game is sold at multiple platforms, PS4, PS3, VITA and PC. Price varies by platform, and it is as follows.

Vita:7,800 yen
PS4:8,800 yen
PS3:8,800 yen
PC:9,800 yen

Why. Just why.


Even “Pro Cycling Manager 2012:English version of the game with Japanese manual” is sold for $51. What the actual fuck?


I really hope to end these craziness nightmare soon. Raising price for translating or for matching full price in Japan can be understood, but blocking games developed in Japanese in Japan is just ridiculous. If you are reading this as employee of companies listed above, or companies that bans games for Japanese on steam, please provide us a reasonable reason for this.

PS: you can just copy paste this article on your blog as if you wrote it because I want it to be spread.


  1. Hey man. Since you wrote this in English, I can only assume your English is really good. In which case, you can get and buy and activate all those games on your steam via a different IP address. It doesn’t solve the language problem, but it’s something, right? Get yourself a VPN.

    1. Tabi Author

      VPN partially solves the problem. To purchase the game using U.S. VPN, you have to have U.S. credit card. If you managed to get U.S. credit card, you will be able to purchase anything you wish at global price. However, some games like Dark Souls 2 does not give you Japanese language if you purchase via VPN as Bandai Namco sell different version of the same game.(DS2 with Japanese and without Japanese, aka NA version and JP version)

  2. YUYUE




    1. Tabi Author

      I think so. I think that supporting Japanese yen encourages region-unlocking. I do think that this will raise price of games to match Japanese full price (at least $70) as well though.

  3. alfons

    i didn’t know steam lock so many games in japan.. i always think it’s good to be pc gamer in japan..
    because you can get your games easily..
    but i’m wrong -_-
    i hope this problem will be quickly over..

  4. Tomelyr

    You could also try to use Paysafecards in combination with the EU Tier 1 or UK Steamstore.

    You don’t need to own an Debit or Credit card for it, you don’t need to enter an Adress and you can check SteamDB forehand, to check if you can Crosstrade the gift.

    An EU or UK IP is quite easily generated with TOR or other VPN/Tunneling Programs and if you create an mule account, even if they ban it, you doesnt care much about it.

    just my tips about it. i know that restricting Acces to Games suck, since i’m german. We still got the games, but most of the times cutted.

  5. Balls

    I recently moved to Japan for my studies and I encountered this problem too. This is going to sound brash and rude but really just YOLO it and pirate the game. Shouldn’t really have to worry about people that doesn’t want to take our money or trying to rip us off.

    Instead of trying to grow the Japanese PC gaming market why make it that its even more difficult and gating the PC market even more.

  6. RJ

    Wow, I guess that explains why PC gaming isn’t very popular over there then, huh? Most just chalk it up to space issues or nobody caring.

    I’ll be sure to spread the message when I can. It certainly can’t hurt.

  7. ニュージーランド人

    I understand, because I live in New Zealand and prices are very high here. But the reason is obvious: target demographic.

    “The Lord of the Rings” movies were filmed in NZ – many films were filmed in NZ – much like “Flight of the Concords”, but I can’t watch them on American streaming services (like Netflix), because they are IP locked. It’s original content made by New Zealanders, but New Zealanders can’t access it. Well, a similar situation is happening with Steam and Japanese.

    The origin of the content does not matter. All that matters is the distribution method, and the distribution method’s target audience. In this case, Steam is the distribution method, and these games (even though they’re Japanese), are aimed at a target audience: the English-speaking world.

    Yes, it’s nonsense and silly, but that’s just how things are! Another example: Shin Megami Tensei IV was released in America (in English) 07/16/13, and in Europe/Australia/New Zealand 10/30/14. Why? Both areas are English-speaking countries, so why did people outside of America have to wait 1+ year for the same game, in the same language, for the same handheld?

    Why do people in various European countries have to pay more money for the same thing, just because of their location? It’s nonsense and silly, but that’s just how things are.

    But I agree with you. Steam’s support for Japanese and residents of Japan is horrible. There is no written contract (in Japanese) for Japanese developers to use. Treasure didn’t know how to approach Valve, so they put Ikaruga on Steam’s Greenlight service first. Absolutely pathetic. Valve as a corporation needs to strengthen their ties with Japanese developers instead of simply relying on publishers of Japanese games. I don’t see it happening any time soon though.

  8. tony

    I understand the japopneses are very law-abiding so frightens them using vpn , thank God we do not have that problem in the Caribbean and we have the same prices as in America.

    I hope that soon the problem of Japanese players pc is resolved, it is not fair for us only things less expensive

    good luck friend , yet Japan is cool.

  9. I am an expat living in Japan. I have a US credit card and address. I have contacted steam about buying games in US Dollar and a few more games from Sega became available to buy on my account.

    BUT, humble bundles with Japanese made games are often blocked. My friend gifted my the recent BANDAI bundle. I could activate all but three games, on being Dark Souls. The game is not allowed for me in Japan. I do not understand why. It seems like such a missed opportunity to sell more games. I will not buy Dark Souls for my ps3 or ps4. Too expensive and I do not think I will like it that much. But for free, I wanted to try it out, and if I loved it, I would buy the 2nd one.

    Hang in there Japan based gamers. It sucks but lets keep complaining. Steam allows me to choose my currency now, so that is a start.

  10. Gamer from norther Europe

    Here in northern Europe PC gaming is a relatively popular pastime. Most people use some modern edition of Windows (roughly 95 %) as their primary operating system wheras perhaps a few percent of people use Mac OS X or some Linux distribution like Mint or Debian. Gamers tend to prefer Windows to Mac OS X while those people who are both tech-savvy and game enthusiasts have a tendency to dual-boot between Windows and some Linux distro. Before the Windows era which began from 1995 onwards with a tremendous upsurge of consumer-oriented operating system developed by Microsoft, there was much more variety as we used the Commodore 64, Amiga 500, and many different kinds of IBM PC compatible computers running a DOS operating system. Unlike in Japan, MSX personal computers were never widely used here. For example, I never knew that there even existed MSX versions of some old games that I used to play on the Commodore 64. Good examples of such games are Green Beret (a.k.a. Rush’n Attack), Jail Break, Mikie, Nemesis – The Final Challenge (a.k.a. Gradius), Renegade, and Yie Ar Kung-Fu I & II.

    While Steam is the de facto delivery platform for so called AAA titles, you could visit GOG, EA/Origin and uPlay as well. However, this might turn out to be a complete waste of time as I don’t know if they have anything to offer for Japanese gamers in particular. GOG (formerly “Good Old Games”) has an anti-DRM and pro-ownership stance but they do not seem to have the most recent AAA titles on offer. One of the major problems with the other ESD platforms that I mentioned above is that they have all kinds of annoying DRM schemes attached to their games. For example, in some cases, the games that have been purchased through those digital distribution platforms can no longer be played if the servers needed to activate the games are taken down by the owners. Thus, the owners can simpy hit the ‘kill switch’ on the activation servers when they have come to the conclusion that the games are no longer profitable.

    Unfortunately, old-school retail gaming might just go away completely here in Europe & North America even though there are many people who would like to have a physical disc or packaging for their games. The idea behind that sort of retail gaming is to:

    1) …buy a physical game disc from a typical brick-and-mortar store or order a retail game online and wait for a physical copy of the game to arrive in the mail.
    2) …make sure that the game is free from the shackles of DRM; in other words, no permanent online DRM (a.k.a. always-online requirement), limited activation DRM, mandatory periodical online check-in DRM or any other forms of draconian DRM.

    I once read a blog claiming that many Japanese gamers still prefer owning physical copies of their games to having to rely upon virtual copies. However, I don’t know if this is true.


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