Valve EU Antitrust Charges On Geoblocking Fought as Five Publishers Settle

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Valve EU Antitrust Charges On Geoblocking Fought as Five Publishers Settle

September 2, 2019

By: Robert N. Adams

 
 

Valve EU antitrust charges are being combated by the Seattle-based company as five major publishers are in the process of settling with the European Union. Bandai Namco Entertainment, Capcom, Focus Home Interactive, Koch Media, and Zenimax have elected to settle while the behemoth behind the Steam digital distribution client contests a dispute over regional pricing.

Reuters reports that the Valve EU antitrust charges emerged after the company and five publishers were charged with preventing European Union customers from getting the best possible prices within the 28-member supranational government. It alleged that the six companies used geo-blocking technology to stop customers in one EU nation from buying their games at a lower price listed in another nation in the union.

Primarily, the European Union has been focused on ending different pricing levels across the 28-member union. All six companies were additionally charged with preventing third-party distributors from selling games outside of the allowed territories. The EU approved a draft law in May of 2017 that would eventually do away with the practice of geo-blocking.

The five publishers have elected to settle the charges, a mechanism which would secure them a 10% reduction in fines in return for an admission of wrongdoing. Valve, however, has decided to fight.

 
 

Valve EU Antitrust Charges: By The Numbers

Valve will likely be asking for a hearing behind closed doors to make their case in front of European Union officials and national watchdogs. The company hit a major milestone for its digital distribution platform earlier this year when it reached 1 billion registered accounts.

While the European Union would like everyone to have access to the same prices, the economy of each of the member nations can vary wildly. As the EU's own statistics show, Romania is the poorest nation with a mean annual income of €3,284 and Norway is the wealthiest at €39,432.

We've reached out to Valve for comment and will update this article when we hear back from them.


Quick Take

The removal of geo-blocking is yet another EU initiative that ignores the on-the-ground situation of the 28 member nations. €60 in Romania is much more difficult to get than €60 in Norway, and the lowered prices for poorer nations has likely combated piracy. I doubt that prices are going to go down in the wealthier nations; rather, prices will go up in the poorer nations, bringing them in line with the prices of the wealthier nations and signaling a return to piracy in those regions.

What do you think of the Valve EU antitrust charges? Do you think the European Union is right to do away with the practice of restricting prices and distribution based on countries? Let us know in the comments below!

A photograph of Robert N Adams
Senior Writer

I've had a controller in my hand since I was 4 and I haven't stopped gaming since. CCGs, Tabletop Games, Pen & Paper RPGs - I've tried a whole bunch of stuff over the years and I'm always looking to try more!

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