The Argentine economy continues to lurch from one crisis to another and several months ago draconian currency controls were introduced in order to discourage people from either acquiring greenbacks or indeed making digital purchases from companies outside the country. Many have turned to the black market for acquiring hard cash, but the alternatives for digital purchases are far and few between.
I Ditched Xbox GamePass Due To Currency Controls
When Microsoft Flight Simulator (MSFS 2020) was launched back in August, I snapped up the GamePass offer of $1 for the first three months, but gradually the monthly subscription crept up leaving me with the impression that the offer was more of a honey trap. By November I was paying Microsoft 20 times more than in August, so with a combination of Microsoft more than doubling the fee and the Argentine government gouging its citizens, I cancelled the membership.
If an offer appears too good to be true, it probably is, and this proved to be the case with Xbox Game Pass, as can be seen by the above image. But to put this in perspective, even when we are initially paying in local currency (pesos), the credit card company pays the supplier in US dollars, where the transaction is subject to three swingeing taxes, practically making the purchase untenable.
Clearly, these taxes don’t apply to cards or other forms of payment issued outside Argentina, but many digital platforms have moved over to local currency payments. Steam is a good example and up until the change of government last year, the company was accepting every local Argentine form of payment in pesos, so no currency control taxes were applied. This all changed a few months later when the economy went tits up again, meaning that we couldn’t even use a PayPal account with Steam. Suffice to say that I won’t be using any local payment methods on Steam or any other digital platform in the future.
Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining
Or, to put it more succinctly, there are more than nine ways to skin a cat and VPNs come in very useful for circumventing local currency paywalls, thus allowing many of us to use PayPal in US dollars. Further, when subscribing to games-as-a-service, you never own the games or software and since MSFS 2020 and a couple of other games were the only games I played on GamePass, I was able to acquire them by other means and own them outright.
This isn’t a rant per se, but more of a sad reflection on the state of government today, wherever that may be. It’s no exaggeration to state that whatever crappy mess any government makes of their economies, the one who always picks up the tab is you, every single time. However, with a little imagination, many of these obstacles can be overcome, but in order not to have my collar felt, or indeed to receive a deportation order, I haven’t included all the means at my disposal.
Let’s just say that Argentines have had years of practice in this game of cat and mouse and I tend to keep my radar trained.