European Commission reprimands Steam Store for ‘geo-blocking’

Steam

The European Commission has blamed Valve, the maker of game shop Steam, and five game publishers for so-called ‘geo-blocking’. That is what European Commissioner Margrethe Vestager announced on Friday.

EU-Court in Brussels believes that Valve and the five game publishers have violated European rules by making it impossible in some EU countries to play games via Steam in an EU country other than where the game was purchased.

According to the European Commission, Valve has made agreements with the five game publishers (Bandai Namco, Capcom, Focus Home, Koch Media and ZeniMax) to make it impossible to play games outside the country where the game was purchased. It is not clear which games are involved.

In this way, according to Vestager, the six companies ensured that it was impossible for consumers to buy a game in another EU country, for example because the game was offered there cheaper. This is contrary to European competition rules.

The investigation into the practices of Valve and the game publishers started in February 2017. The six companies can now defend themselves against the allegation.

If the European Commission subsequently decides that Valve and the publishers have violated the rules, they can expect a fine of up to 10 percent of the worldwide annual turnover.

In March of this year, Nike was fined 12.5 million euros for ‘geoblocking’. The clothing brand banned famous football clubs such as FC Barcelona from selling merchandise, such as mugs, outside their national borders.

Valve said in a statement to gamesindustry.biz that the sanctions can make games more expensive in poorer countries: “publishers are likely to raise prices in the regions concerned, because cheaper code can then be sent to other countries at no extra cost to become’.

In addition, Valve emphasizes that it only concerns a small part of the games on Steam, around 3 percent.

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