EU Finds Valve in Breach of Antitrust Laws

Daniel Fowler
January 21, 2021

A post from the European Commission explains the violations and breaks down the fines for each company.

The five publishers have agreed to cooperate with the Commission and saw a reduced fine, whereas Valve "chose not to cooperate" and was fined over €1.6 million (~ United States dollars 1.9 million). The commission didn't mention what would prevent Valve from engaging in the geo-blocking practices again. The five companies that got penalized are: Bandai Namco, Capcom, Focus Home, Koch Media and ZeniMax (Bethesda's parent company).

USA distributor Valve Corp, owner of the world's largest video game distribution platform Steam, and 5 video game publishers received a 7.8-million-euro ($9.45 million) European Union antitrust fine on Wednesday for blocking cross-border sales in Europe. The report notes that Valve "chose not to cooperate with the Commission", and was therefore fined the full amount. As a result, the Commission opened the antitrust proceedings in February 2017, which has led to massive fines for all six companies.

The statement made by European Commission Vice President Margrethe Vestage is as follows: "The sanctions imposed today against the "geoblocking" practices of Valve and five game companies remind that cross-border sales restrictions by contract are prohibited under the EU competition law".

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Specifically, Valve and the five game publishers formed bilateral agreements that prevented the activation of certain games outside of specific countries.

The European Union has issued fines to a US 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 cooperated extensively with the European Commission ("EC"), providing evidence and information as requested.

The Commission found that Valve and the game publishers had restricted cross-border sales of specific video games based on user's locations inside the European Economic Area (EEA), the Commission said in a statement on Wednesday. The "geo-blocking" practices affected around 100 titles.

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