Surely you as a user of this site have already bought a game abroad, know someone who has done it or at least played with the idea. Maybe you even tried it and failed somewhere. This article should reflect the current state of affairs and list what is still possible how and where and take a bit of fear, if it is there.
Why buy Xbox Games and DLCs abroad?
Buying games abroad has (actually) been common practice for many years. And not only in the Microsoft Store for Xbox, but also Playstation, Nintendo or on the computer with Steam, the Epic Games Store or others. The reasons are quite different. Often certainly because of a better price, but sometimes also because of banal things like uncensored versions or other language variants. But since this page is primarily about saving money on foreign purchases and you’re surely here for that, here’s an example.
In the European Xbox Store (all Euro countries are treated the same here), games always cost the insane MSRP price of 69.99€ when they are released. Why Microsoft has not yet finally changed something about this and adjusted it down, many people do not understand. I don’t either.
If even a disc version in a local retailer or Amazon is already offered for an average of 55€ at release, which then also includes costs for all parties in the supply chain (apart from the digital version), such as the pressing plant, material costs for disc, cover and booklet, the wholesaler(s), the end customer retailer, it is not clear to me how Microsoft can offer the price for a digital work, which can be reproduced as often as desired for free, for the absolute full RRP price.
After all, the costs for development/developers, publishers, advertising, Microsoft, etc. are already included in the disc as well. So the digital margin in the Microsoft Store should be somewhere around 30% for Microsoft. A lot if you ask me.
It’s clear that many people don’t want to do without the luxury of a digital version (quick game change, usable worldwide everywhere, etc.) and are still not willing to pay this price. So you look for alternatives and you can find them with the Xbox, precisely because it has no regional restrictions, abroad to heap.
Buying games abroad is vlt. a kind of gray area, because in the end you can harm the entire supply chain, because the prices are chosen according to the purchasing and economic power of the respective country, on the other hand, it could also be argued that someone buys a game for 20 € abroad, but for 69.99 € not at all or only late in the next sale.
So the developer, publisher, etc. has no advantage anyway. I personally prefer to wait until the game is offered at a significantly lower price. At 20€ or similar, I buy it directly. So the developers etc. are not better or worse off if you buy a game abroad. Surely there are also people who would have bought it for 20€, if possible and otherwise buy it for 70€ at release, if there is no other way.
On the other hand, fewer and fewer people will probably do it this way, in times where games appear half unfinished and buggy and even the biggest hypes like Crackdown 3, Fallout 76 or others are a bitter disappointment. Then you’d rather wait a while and buy it at a bargain price.
The only real disadvantage for Microsoft from foreign purchases, in my opinion, is the fact that the money earned then has to be stashed in various countries, since the taxes on capital repatriation to the USA are very high.
But what does Microsoft want to do with millions or even billions abroad?
Investing there is usually difficult. Therefore, and probably because of the pressure of some publishers who do not support, understand or want to have true my above thesis, Microsoft has to make buying abroad so difficult, so that not every Hans and Franz has it as easy as it used to be at the release of the console. By the way, this is also the reason why Apple, with tens of billions abroad, always has to borrow new money on the capital market in the USA, because it is cheaper to pay interest on bonds than to bring the money back to the USA.
An important and interesting information at the end: Albert Penello (former Microsoft manager) said at that time shortly before the release of the Xbox One that the Xbox is region-free and it will always be possible to buy games abroad if you have a valid local means of payment, or credit! Means: If you have credit for various countries, which can be purchased anywhere, a purchase abroad is completely legitimate. Even though this statement was probably not meant exactly that way at the time, it leaves a lot of room for interpretation, and nowhere does it explicitly say that this practice is prohibited.
I’m sure many of you remember how things used to be. At the console’s release in late 2013, and for a few months and years after, there were virtually zero restrictions. Everyone could shop in any country with credit as well as with a credit card. No matter whether in the browser, on the console or on the smartphone. Everything was possible. Increasingly, however, purchases with credit cards became more difficult, so that at some point from the end of 2014, the use of VPNs or SmartDNS became necessary.
That was sufficient for a very long time. It was only important to have a suitable address of the respective country. So if you were on vacation in an attractive country for a week, you could still store without a VPN or SmartDNS and with the local hotel address. However, due to increased pressure from publishers and partners, buying with a credit card has become increasingly difficult, especially in recent times. At last, until about the end of last year, the purchase with credit card and VPN/SmartDNS was only possible at the console itself. But Microsoft has now closed this option as well.
Roughly since the end of 2018, buying with a credit card abroad is actually no longer possible. However, there were still two exceptions. First, there was the so-called “enter method” in September 2018, which resourceful Chinese found out. (Warning: please do not do this under any circumstances! Besides, it doesn’t work anymore anyway) This simply involved holding down the Enter key on the keyboard in the buy dialog until the dialog successfully confirmed the purchase at some point.
At that time, people were banned for one month for this as a warning, as it was illegal and in violation of the terms and conditions. The other variant was a purchase with the Revolut prepaid debit card. Why and why the purchases were suddenly possible for two days without any restrictions with it is not entirely clear. However, it is most likely that the Revolut cards were also offered by MasterCard for the first time shortly beforehand and thus received a new credit card BIN (identification number), which was not yet known in Microsoft’s security system.
One piece of information first: You need a valid billing address for each country you want to shop in. However, if you commute a lot or are traveling, you can also use your hotel addresses.
What is still possible and should always be possible (see Albert Penello’s statement above) is the purchase of games abroad with prepaid credit or credit cards. However, there are some things to consider here as well. Because:
- Credit cards are not available for all countries
- Credit cards can usually not be bought at Microsoft itself. Here the blocking measures take effect like with credit card purchases
- Credit is usually only available in non-optimal package sizes, so there is often a remainder (which can be topped up later and also spent)
- Credit purchases in Argentina and Turkey (the two interesting countries) are unfortunately very special
Especially regarding the last point with Argentina and Turkey, there are also some hurdles to overcome. Although it is usually relatively easy to redeem the credit (e.g. via the smartphone app, in the browser or on the console with the country set correctly), a IP address of the respective country must be used to redeem credit from Argentina or Turkey. For that purpose Unlocator and SmartDNSProxy are recommended here, and there are even SmartDNS and VPN services accepting Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Both are often available at very low prices for several years, but both also offer a short trial mode, which may be sufficient.
Once you have successfully redeemed the credit (by the way, you can find illustrated instructions in the help), the actual purchase can begin – almost. Because also here these two countries have special safety precautions. Often the purchase does not work directly. If you see an error message, the only solution so far is to wait. At least 72 hours. It’s best to set your console or app to the respective country and then wait at least 72 hours before attempting a new purchase.
No other country should be used in between. The same applies to the browser, the browser locale, the Windows 10 Microsoft Store app or similar. You do not need a VPN to buy with credit that is already in the account. However, it can’t really do any harm. If in doubt, simply test both. And don’t try again too often in case of an error. Internally the account has a block for the country and by the 72 hours waiting period this block disappears again.
Other countries are not so problematic. Actually, everything should work without problems. You are welcome to post experiences and contrary opinions in the comments.
Give Keys as a Gift
Another interesting possibility is currently the gift of games and keys. Many users of this site from e.g. Turkey, Argentina or other countries are happy to help you and usually offer their services as a donor for a small fee. I.e. they use their possibility to buy games in their own country as a code and give you this code so that you can unlock and download the game.
Basically it works like this: you tell the donator what you would like to have, transfer him the money for the game + fee X, he buys you the game as a code, sends you the code and you can just redeem it. It is important to note here that redeeming the code only works via VPN. So for a code from Argentina you need a VPN server from Argentina and so on.
If you are interested, you can join our Discord Channel and get in contact with different donors: Xbox-Now Discord Channel
In the meantime you can even use PayPal in some countries to buy games easily in your browser. However, you need a PayPal account for each country. The good thing is that even Paypal is now supporting Bitcoin.
Functioning countries are currently found mainly in Asia. For example Hong Kong or Singapore, but also some Eastern European countries. I can not give you an exact list. Just try it out or google something.
Just create an account at PayPal in the respective country and deposit your credit card, another payment method or send money from your real account there. That should be it. VPN can not hurt here. But I can’t tell you for sure if this is required.
What else is there to consider?
Actually not so much. However, it would be important to know that some countries, such as the USA or Canada, always use and display net prices. The obligatory 59.99 USD are always net and usually taxes of the respective state, to which your billing address belongs, are added. In some states you don’t have to pay taxes.
For this you can go with the mouse over the country at XN, so that a tooltip is shown to you. There you will find information if prices are net or gross, which countries do not charge taxes or what else is important. Usually special countries are marked with one or two asterisks (e.g. Argentina**).