Valve reportedly fighting EC geoblocking complaint

August 30, 2019 | 11:32

Tags: #digital-distribution #geoblocking #grey-import #grey-market #margrethe-vestager

Companies: #bandai-namco #european-commission #focus-home #koch-media #valve #zenimax

Valve is the only one of six video game publishers and distributors named in a European Commission antitrust case to be fighting the charges, according to a report from as-yet unconfirmed sources.

Rules preventing the use of so-called 'geoblocking,' defined as 'different treatment between customers from different EU states,' were introduced back in November 2017. While many of the rules focused on the sale and delivery of physical goods, they also affected digital distribution platforms which price titles differently in each member state. This was proven in an investigation by the European Commission which, in April this year, accused Valve, Bandai Namco, Capcom, Focus Home, Koch Media, and ZeniMax of being in breach of the rules by geoblocking game activation keys to prevent cross-border sales throughout the European Union - while Bandai Namco, Focus Home, Koch Media, and ZeniMax were also accused of adding contractual export restrictions in their agreements with distributors other than Valve.

'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,' Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said at the time. '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.'

Sources speaking to newswire service Reuters claim that those responses are now in: Valve is the only company fighting the EC's investigation, with the other five companies having agreed to settle - a move which will shave 10 percent off fines levied.

Valve has not commented on the sources' claims that it will be seeking a closed-door hearing, but in April had stated that only three percent of all games on the Steam platform are geoblocked - and that it had disabled geoblocking across Europe in 2015, before the new regulation came into force.

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