'Steam' fined for geo-blocking video games in Europe

Marco Green
January 21, 2021

A post from the European Commission explains the violations and breaks down the fines for each company. The publishers saw their fines reduced by at least 10 percent for cooperating with regulators, but Valve is facing a full penalty (over €1.6 million, or more than $1.9 million) for fighting the charges. The commission didn't mention what would prevent Valve from engaging in the geo-blocking practices again.

The Commission, the EU executive, said the companies' practices prevented European consumers from shopping around in a European market worth more than 17 billion euros.

The European Commission has fined Valve, owner of global gaming platform Steam and five games publishers a total of €7.8 million (or almost $9.4 million) in fines for illegally geo-blocking games in the European Union.

In a press release, the European Commission says PC platform Steam and the five previously listed publishers restricted cross-border sales of PC games based on geographical location with the European Economic Area (EEA).

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EU fines video game firms for blocking cross-border sales
Valve Faces Fine for 'Geo-Blocking' PC Game Activations in Europe

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

As per the report, video game publishers are actually prohibited from contractually restricting cross-border sales. These lasted between one and five years and were implemented, depending on the cases, between September 2010 and October 2015.

The European Union has issued fines to a USA video game platform and five game makers after they blocked players from buying cheaper copies of the games in other countries in the bloc.

"During the seven-year investigation Valve has cooperated fully, providing all requested evidence and information to the Commission", a Valve spokesperson told Eurogamer. 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. The Commission sent Statements of Objections to Valve and the five publishers on April 5, 2019.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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