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EU: EC charges Valve and steam with geo-blocking games

 |  April 7, 2019

Two years after the EU began investigating whether Valve uses regional pricing and geo-blocking practices in its Steam store, the European Commission has formally charged the distributor and five game publishers.

The Commission released its “preliminary view” thatValve, Bandai Namco, Capcom, Focus Home, Koch Media and ZeniMax prevented consumers from purchasing videogames cross-border from some Member States. That’s considered geo-blocking, and it violates EU competition rules.

“In a true Digital Single Market, European consumers should have the right to buy and play video games of their choice regardless of where they live in the EU. Consumers should not be prevented from shopping around between Member States to find the best available deal. Valve and the five PC video game publishers now have the chance to respond to our concerns,” Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in a statement.

Valve responded to the statements of objections in a new press release. According to Valve, the Commission’s charges do not relate to the sale of PC games on Steam and instead hinges on their activation keys. Specifically, that said keys “enabled geo-blocking by providing Steam activation keys and upon the publishers’ request locking those keys to particular territories.”

However, Valve asserts that they provide Steam keys for free and do not receive any share of the purchase price when a game is sold by third-party re-sellers.

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