Buying Online Games In Thailand

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One of the things I didn’t account for in Thailand is how complicated it is to buy things online. I’m guessing this isn’t just an issue in Thailand but more a global problem when making online purchases abroad.

It is the rainy season in Thailand which means some times, like the last couple of days, if you go outside you drown. I like to play computer games every now and again and I use an Apple MacBook Pro which has no CD Rom drive so anything I buy has to be a digital download. There are 3 main digital game providers I’m interested in, Blizzard, Steam and Guildwars 2. I contacted my banks before I left, telling them I would be away for 12 months travelling and I will be visiting Thailand as the first port of call to make sure that there would be no issues. But oh boy are there issues.

diablo3

Trying To Buy Diablo 3

Trying to buy Diablo 3 started off as an easy experience. I could select the game, correctly enter my address (despite being in Thailand), enter my card details, make the purchase then start downloading the game. Easy.

2 hours later however I received an email saying

This notice is being sent to inform you that we were unable to successfully complete your recent purchase on the Blizzard Store. The charge for that item on your order was not finalized.

I phoned my bank asking if everything was ok and they confirmed that they had authorised the payment but Blizzard hadn’t confirmed or rejected the transaction. The money was flagged as ear marked and they were waiting for Blizzard to handle it. This means they money is currently in a limbo and I am unable to access it.

I then got on to Blizzard support, explained the situation and sent them a copy of my passport. The support guy said that their system had rejected the transaction because

  • I was making the purchase from a non UK country.
  • I was making the purchase from a known “VPN” used by scammers.

I wasn’t using a VPN at the time, just the hotel WiFi, so I’m not sure what that was about! The support guy then said my account had been marked so if I purchased Diablo 3 again it would go through this time and that the current funds that were ear marked would be freed up in 5 days. This would be problematic if I were a student with no money but as it is having those funds held isn’t a problem for me.

I then went ahead and bought the game and played it for a few hours on Saturday before I went to bed, it’s pretty cool. When I woke up on Sunday however there was another email …

This notice is being sent to inform you that we were unable to successfully complete your recent purchase on the Blizzard Store. The charge for that item on your order was not finalized.

Rubbish. I contacted support again, describing the problem and got this reply

The order is most likely being rejected becuase the card is registered as a UK card and you are in another country. Our billing system usually blocks those as a fraud prevention measure.

Live web chat is currently offline, presumably because the guys on the other end are asleep as it’s now midnight in the US so I turned to plan B. I have a VPN account with VyperVPN to protect myself when I’m on shared, untrusted WiFi, which lets me pretend I’m from any country I like. So I enabled that, set my VPN server to United Kingdom and once again made the purchase. So far so good, but it’s early days. Blizzard have reserved 72 hours to accept or decline the purchase so I could receive an email any time in the next 3 days….

guildwars2

Trying To Buy Guildwars 2

When trying to buy Guildwars 2 the first problem I’ve encountered is the Country drop down, when entering your address, doesn’t mention Great Britain. It just features Pacific/Asia countries.

Guildwars 2 won't let me pick Great Britain as a country..
Guildwars 2 won’t let me pick Great Britain as a country..

This means I can’t enter valid address details for either my credit/debit card or Paypal. Once again I cracked out VyperVPN and setting my country as the United Kingdom gives me the correct drop down box mentioning Great Britain.

Following the checkout process, with Great Britain as my country, goes great, until the very end, where I am greeted by “Unable to Process Order” and “Payment Authorisation Failed”. I will ring up my bank later but due to my experience with Blizzard, I’m pretty sure NCSoft, the Guildwars 2 developers, are rejecting the transaction because I’m using the VyperVPN.

steam

Trying To Buy Games On Steam

Steam often has loads of cheap games for £1.99, or even free, which can be great fun to play so I decided to give them a try. Steam just worked, non funny business, no mucking around with my address, no declining my card because of their system. Steam just worked. So I bought Prison Architect 😀

Update

I received 2 emails in the last couple of days. One from Blizzard confirming my Diablo 3 purchase, so pretending I’m in the UK using the VPN worked! The other was from NCSoft basically saying I was out of luck and will be unable to purchase Guildwars 2. Terrible customer service there.

Playing Diablo 3 at the Drop Ship Lifestyle retreat in Chiang Mai :D
Playing Diablo 3 at the Drop Ship Lifestyle retreat in Chiang Mai 😀