The European Union (EU) has issued severe fines to an American video game company along with five gaming publishers. This happened after they resorted to geo-blocking i.e., they blocked gamers from buying cheaper versions of the video games in other countries in the EU bloc.
The EU’s Executive Commission said this Wednesday, January 20, that it has levied a fine on Valve Corp., that owns the online PC game, Steam and its publishers a total of 7.8 million euros (i.e., $9.5 million) because they limited cross-border sales that violates the antitrust rules of the bloc.
According to the statement issued by the European Commission, the gaming companies used so-called “geo-blocking” practices to prohibit players from playing or activating the games sold either on DVD or by download. Steam activation keys restricted these online PC games from working outside the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Estonia, Slovakia, Latvia, Poland and Lithuania, the commission further mentioned.
Geo-Blocking Is Unfair To Consumers Of The Gaming Community
The Head of Competition policy of the European Commission said in a statement that the “geo-blocking” fine that has been levied shall act as a reminder for all PC video gaming companies to go by the EU competition law.
They further mention that such geo-blocking tactics are disadvantageous to the consumers of the gaming community as it prevents them from making good use of the EU Digital Single Market. Plus, it restricts their freedom of choosing from among the most suitable offers in the market for purchasing these games.
Valve refused to cooperate with the ongoing geo-blocking investigation furthered by the EU. The company was fined 1.6 million euros. Among the game publishers, Bandai Namco, Focus Home, Capcom, ZeniMax and KochMedia cooperated and therefore received discounts on their penalties, the commission added.