The European Comission has announced that they are fining Valve, Bandai Namco, Capcom, Focus Home, Koch Media and Zenimax €7.8 million for preventing their games from being sold across countries on Steam.
In a press release by the governing body themselves (spotted by VG24/7) the EU Commission said it was fining the companies for breaching EU antitrust rules, citing the companies use of ‘geoblocking’, specifically how they “restricted cross-border sales of certain PC video games on the basis of the geographical location of users within the European Economic Area.”
As per the report, video game publishers are actually prohibited from contractually restricting cross-border sales. However, thanks to Steam activation keys and territory control functions, the report said that the “The publishers requested Valve to set up geographical restrictions and to provide geo-blocked Steam activation keys.” The investigation was said to cover “around 100 PC video games of different genres, including sports, simulation and action games” and cited the relationship between the publishers named and Valve’s Steam between March 2007 and November 2018.
Valve are being asked to pay a larger portion of the fine, being charged over €1.6 million (around £1.4 milliom GBP) as they did not cooperate with the Commission’s investigation. The other publishers all got between a 10-15% reduction in their fines for cooperating, though that still saw Focus Home end up having to pay the largest share of the fine at €2.8 million (£2.6 million). Valve themselves have responded to the report, with a representative telling PCGamesN it “disagrees with these findings, and plans to appeal the decision.”
It’s interesting to see what this could mean in the future for buying games cheaply from other countries in the future, although of course with the UK leaving the EU at the start of this year it’s hard to say how that will change things again. But for those countries still in the EU, the Commission says: “Any person or company affected by anti-competitive behaviour as described in this case may bring the matter before the courts of the Member States and seek damages.”
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