Valve Faces Fine for 'Geo-Blocking' PC Game Activations in Europe

Andrew Cummings
January 21, 2021

A post from the European Commission explains the violations and breaks down the fines for each company.

Still, geo-blocking is against the EU's single market rules and as a result, Valve and the five PC game publishers involved in the investigation will be fined. The commission didn't mention what would prevent Valve from engaging in the geo-blocking practices again.

The organisation reports that the fines handed out to the other publishers amounted to over €6 million, and were reduced due to their co-operation with the Commission.

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".

Imagine buying a PC game, and then finding out you couldn't activate your copy because you lived in the wrong country. The game makers - Bandai Namco, Capcom, Focus Home, KochMedia and ZeniMax - co-operated and received discounts on their penalties, the commission said.

Valve's video game digital distribution service Steam is the largest platform for selling and purchasing games in the PC marketplace.

This happened after they resorted to geo-blocking i.e., they blocked gamers from buying cheaper versions of the video games in other countries in the European Union bloc.

"The fines imposed today serve as a reminder that the Under EU competition law, companies are prohibited from contractually restricting cross-border sales, because such practices prevent consumers in Europe from taking advantage of the digital single market and being able to choose the best offer anywhere in the EU".

"The geo-blocking practices concerned around 100 PC video games of different genres, including sports, simulation and action games", the commission said.

During the seven year investigation, Valve cooperated extensively with the European Commission ("EC"), providing evidence and information as requested.

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