Apparently the only government body that controls technology platforms, the European Union, is now targeting the largest desktop game store, Steam, and its creator Valve.
The commission sent “Statement of Objections” to Valve and five other video game publishers, sparking a scandal over companies’ buying habits of “geoblocking” – that is, banning users from using activation codes for games purchased outside of your country of residence.
Additionally, the lawsuit targets Bandai Namco, Focus Home, Koch Media and ZeniMax for reaching deals with game distributors, including Valve, which prevented consumers in some EU member states from being able to download titles available in other regions.
The commission claims that the actions of these companies are in violation of EU antitrust rules.
“In a true digital single market, European consumers should have the right to buy and play the video games of their choice, regardless of where they live in the EU. Consumers should not be prevented from searching for places between Member States to find the best offer available. “Valve and the five PC video game publishers now have the opportunity to respond to our concerns,” Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in a statement.
As the crowd of online advocates for Valve has noted, there are a few reasons why “geoblocking” might make sense. Boosting regional sales can help game developers find audiences in new markets while keeping the bread and butter markets paying full price to subsidize the rest. Keeping prices uniform around the world can leave developers in a difficult position when it comes to finding the ideal price point.
It seems likely that these companies will try to be nice to the EU and keep their practice elsewhere.
We have contacted Valve for comment.
h / t: Owen Williams