The European Commission has fined Valve and five publishers €7.8 million for breaching EU antitrust rules.
The commission found that Valve has entered into the so called “geo-blocking” practices with Bandai Namco, Capcom, Focus Home, Koch Media and ZeniMax. With each of those companies, Valve agreed to restrict cross-border sales of certain PC titles based on the geographical location of users within the European Economic Area. These publishers requested Valve to set up geographical restrictions by issuing geo-blocked Steam activation keys. As a result, users that obtained Steam activation keys in Czechia, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania couldn’t activate the purchased games elsewhere.
“These business practices therefore denied European consumers the benefits of the EU’s Digital Single Market to shop around between Member States to find the most suitable offer,” the statement reads. “The Commission has concluded that the illegal practices of Valve and the five publishers partitioned the EEA market in violation of EU antitrust rules.”
Today’s sanctions against the “geo-blocking” practices of Valve and five PC video game publishers serve as a reminder that under EU competition law, companies are prohibited from contractually restricting cross-border sales. Such practices deprive European consumers of the benefits of the EU Digital Single Market and of the opportunity to shop around for the most suitable offer in the EU.
Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager
Here’s a breakdown of fines imposed on the companies:
- Bandai Namco — €340 000
- Capcom — €396 000
- Focus Home — €2 888 000
- Koch Media — €977 000
- ZeniMax — €1 664 000
- Valve — €1 624 000
This concluded the investigation the Commission launched back in 2017. The “geo-blocking” practices affected around 100 titles.