Support us on Patreon to keep GamingOnLinux alive. This ensures all of our main content remains free for everyone with no article paywalls. Just good, fresh content! Alternatively, you can donate through PayPal, Liberapay or Buy us a Coffee. You can also buy games using our partner links for GOG and Humble Store.

The European Commission just announced that they've now issued formal fines against Valve, Bandai Namco, Capcom, Focus Home, Koch Media and ZeniMax for breaching their antitrust rules. An investigation that has been going on for some time now since early 2017, and certainly not the first fine Valve has dealt with for breaking some rules here. Note: statement from Valve at the bottom.

What's the deal? The EU say that Valve and the others restricted cross-border sales on the basis of their location inside the European Economic Area (‘EEA'). To put it simply: Valve allowed certain developers and publishers to block keys being redeemed in one country, that were purchased in another (where it might have been cheaper). Out of all those named, Valve is the only company that did not cooperate with their investigation and so they got slapped a lot harder.

The EU Commission made this handy chart for the issue:

Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: "More than 50% of all Europeans play video games. The videogame industry in Europe is thriving and it is now worth over € 17 billion. Today's sanctions against the "geo-blocking" practices of Valve and five PC video game publishers serve as a reminder that under EU competition law, companies are prohibited from contractually restricting cross-border sales. Such practices deprive European consumers of the benefits of the EU Digital Single Market and of the opportunity to shop around for the most suitable offer in the EU".

The fines:

Company

Reduction for cooperation

Fine (€)

Bandai Namco

10 %

340 000 EUR

Capcom

15 %

396 000 EUR

Focus Home

10 %

2 888 000 EUR

Koch Media

10 %

977 000 EUR

ZeniMax

10 %

1 664 000 EUR

Valve 0% 1 624 000 EUR

For a company as big as Valve (and the likes of ZeniMax), they won't be losing any sleep over fines that for them will most likely be a drop in the ocean. Valve especially, as the Steam store pretty much prints money for them.

You can see the full announcement here

Update: We reached out to Valve and they said this:

During the seven year investigation, Valve cooperated extensively with the European Commission (“EC”), providing evidence and information as requested. However, Valve declined to admit that it broke the law, as the EC demanded. Valve disagrees with the EC findings and the fine levied against Valve. 

The EC’s charges do not relate to the sale of PC games on Steam – Valve’s PC gaming service. Instead the EC alleges that Valve enabled geo-blocking by providing Steam activation keys and – upon the publishers’ request – locking those keys to particular territories (“region locks”) within the EEA.  

Such keys allow a customer to activate and play a game on Steam when the user has purchased it from a third-party reseller. Valve provides Steam activation keys free of charge and does not receive any share of the purchase price when a game is sold by third-party resellers (such as a retailer or other online store).  

The region locks only applied to a small number of game titles. Approximately just 3% of all games using Steam (and none of Valve’s own games) at the time were subject to the contested region locks in the EEA. Valve believes that the EC’s extension of liability to a platform provider in these circumstances is not supported by applicable law. Nonetheless, because of the EC’s concerns, Valve actually turned off region locks within the EEA starting in 2015, unless those region locks were necessary for local legal requirements (such as German content laws) or geographic limits on where the Steam partner is licensed to distribute a game. The elimination of region locks may also cause publishers to raise prices in less affluent regions to avoid price arbitrage. There are no costs involved in sending activation keys from one country to another, and the activation key is all a user needs to activate and play a PC game.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
Tags: Misc, Steam, Valve
14 Likes , Who?
We do often include affiliate links to earn us some pennies. We are currently affiliated with GOG and Humble Store. See more here.
About the author -
author picture
I am the owner of GamingOnLinux. After discovering Linux back in the days of Mandrake in 2003, I constantly came back to check on the progress of Linux until Ubuntu appeared on the scene and it helped me to really love it. You can reach me easily by emailing GamingOnLinux directly.
See more from me
75 comments
Page: «8/8
  Go to:

Arten 23 Jan
Quoting: Purple Library Guy
Quoting: ArtenAll regulations have negative side efect!
This is no doubt true, but many regulations have positive primary effects that are much more important. I, personally, am quite fond of safe food and drink, for instance.

Food and drink regulation are evil just like all other regulation. They need to be abolished as all other regulation.
Quoting: Arten
Quoting: Purple Library Guy
Quoting: ArtenAll regulations have negative side efect!
This is no doubt true, but many regulations have positive primary effects that are much more important. I, personally, am quite fond of safe food and drink, for instance.

Food and drink regulation are evil just like all other regulation. They need to be abolished as all other regulation.
Oh that's insane. Here, have some melamine milk.
TheSHEEEP 24 Jan
View PC info
  • Supporter Plus
Quoting: Arten
Quoting: TheSHEEEP
Quoting: ArtenSo, you propouse use regulation (forcing valve enable regional pricing) for deal with consequences of another regulation?
You are shifting the blame here.
The consequences of not allowing region blocking should not be that there is only one EU region. Imagine if that was the case for other goods - EU would have imploded the moment that happened.
That this was the result is entirely Valve's fault - they could have, and easily so, only removed the region locking without also removing different EU regions (remember, they had those, even if only three).
They did not do that out of good old corporate greed - capitalistic entities will always strive to maximize profit, no matter the negative consequences. Which a state (or in this case, the EU) exists to regulate in order to benefit its citizens. It's called social capitalism and is working fairly well in most European countries.
It requires regulations, believe it or not.

Now, what can the EU do here?
Abolish its own principles because one fringe entity (in the grand scheme of things, when talking about the entire EU, Valve doesn't amount to anything) chose to be greedy about implementing laws?
I'd hope not - if they did that, it would show that just about anyone could strongarm the EU into backpedaling.
Force Valve to not f*ck over its customers? That would be optimal but as I said, I have no clue if there is legal ground to enforce regional pricing.
Or just do nothing and accept being blamed for another's fault? Unfortunately the most likely scenario here, there are bigger tasks to tackle right now for the EU than Valve.

Quoting: ArtenAnother regulation only do situaction worst in another place!
Not the one that I proposed, at least not for customers.
As I wrote before, regional pricing has not lead to price increases so far - just look at Russian games that aren't region locked, there is no price increase on the scale some seem to be afraid of.
Assuming that this would somehow be different for the EU is just fear mongering without a base in reality.

It would lead to Valve and publishers earning less money per purchase in lower income regions - while also leading to a lot more purchases in these regions. I'm not even sure it would lead to a net loss. I could very well imagine lots of people from lower income regions purchasing a lot more after such a change.

Besides, seriously, what is the worst that could happen?
We already ARE in the worst case for most Steam customers in the EU! Everyone's paying the highest price. Having regional prices again would mean an improvement for pretty much everyone.
Even in the (highly unlikely) case that those regional prices would be rising - they'd still be lower for most than they are now.

I'm not shifting blame. I identified true criminal in this case and it is EU. Whole EU is just regulatory hell which make hell from living in here. Idea of duty free trade is good, but EU evolved into mutch closer to totalitarian organisation. Ok, not china level yet, but wait couple years.
EU is evil organisation to begin with.
Which negative consequences have maximizing profit in this case? That rich germans with houshold income mote then 2* greater then for example czech houshold income can't buy games on third party regional sites and use it? Without this barier, germans can maximize their profit at the expense of citizens of poorer nations. So local third party stores need choose higher prices.

In this case, Valve is purely victim of EU oppression and regulatory hell.
So, some games are using regional lock in russia. Is logical to assume one who change price are the one which move price.
I was going to actually reply in detail and dismantle every single non-argument in that load of poorly veiled anti-EU propaganda.
But I think that would be waste of time and instead I'm going to abbreviate it all with:

Careful, your mouth is foaming.
Zlopez 25 Jan
  • Supporter Plus
Quoting: TheSHEEEP
Quoting: Arten
Quoting: TheSHEEEP
Quoting: ArtenSo, you propouse use regulation (forcing valve enable regional pricing) for deal with consequences of another regulation?
You are shifting the blame here.
The consequences of not allowing region blocking should not be that there is only one EU region. Imagine if that was the case for other goods - EU would have imploded the moment that happened.
That this was the result is entirely Valve's fault - they could have, and easily so, only removed the region locking without also removing different EU regions (remember, they had those, even if only three).
They did not do that out of good old corporate greed - capitalistic entities will always strive to maximize profit, no matter the negative consequences. Which a state (or in this case, the EU) exists to regulate in order to benefit its citizens. It's called social capitalism and is working fairly well in most European countries.
It requires regulations, believe it or not.

Now, what can the EU do here?
Abolish its own principles because one fringe entity (in the grand scheme of things, when talking about the entire EU, Valve doesn't amount to anything) chose to be greedy about implementing laws?
I'd hope not - if they did that, it would show that just about anyone could strongarm the EU into backpedaling.
Force Valve to not f*ck over its customers? That would be optimal but as I said, I have no clue if there is legal ground to enforce regional pricing.
Or just do nothing and accept being blamed for another's fault? Unfortunately the most likely scenario here, there are bigger tasks to tackle right now for the EU than Valve.

Quoting: ArtenAnother regulation only do situaction worst in another place!
Not the one that I proposed, at least not for customers.
As I wrote before, regional pricing has not lead to price increases so far - just look at Russian games that aren't region locked, there is no price increase on the scale some seem to be afraid of.
Assuming that this would somehow be different for the EU is just fear mongering without a base in reality.

It would lead to Valve and publishers earning less money per purchase in lower income regions - while also leading to a lot more purchases in these regions. I'm not even sure it would lead to a net loss. I could very well imagine lots of people from lower income regions purchasing a lot more after such a change.

Besides, seriously, what is the worst that could happen?
We already ARE in the worst case for most Steam customers in the EU! Everyone's paying the highest price. Having regional prices again would mean an improvement for pretty much everyone.
Even in the (highly unlikely) case that those regional prices would be rising - they'd still be lower for most than they are now.

I'm not shifting blame. I identified true criminal in this case and it is EU. Whole EU is just regulatory hell which make hell from living in here. Idea of duty free trade is good, but EU evolved into mutch closer to totalitarian organisation. Ok, not china level yet, but wait couple years.
EU is evil organisation to begin with.
Which negative consequences have maximizing profit in this case? That rich germans with houshold income mote then 2* greater then for example czech houshold income can't buy games on third party regional sites and use it? Without this barier, germans can maximize their profit at the expense of citizens of poorer nations. So local third party stores need choose higher prices.

In this case, Valve is purely victim of EU oppression and regulatory hell.
So, some games are using regional lock in russia. Is logical to assume one who change price are the one which move price.
I was going to actually reply in detail and dismantle every single non-argument in that load of poorly veiled anti-EU propaganda.
But I think that would be waste of time and instead I'm going to abbreviate it all with:

Careful, your mouth is foaming.

I for one think that EU is really good thing, it really helped the countries in it to have better living conditions. There are plenty of things about EU that are not nice or just pure bureaucracy, but it really helping as a whole.

It just needs time to find out what is working and what is not. Remember it's here for just few decades.
Mal 25 Jan
Quoting: minfaerI don't see how the USA not working in the background to the detriment of all involved EU-countries would cause a nightmare.
Because without them keeping the balance, eventually one capital will rise to rule the others (today that would be Berlin, in a few years Paris, London just went seppuku). And given last 100 years of history (during but most alarmingly after WW2) I don't trust any of the existing EU capitals (mine included) to build an hegemony that is a better world to live in than what Washington built. It's as simple as that. When I think to Catalan or Greek crysis I'm horrified at the idea of a EU army.
Then if you talk about Utopia, an EU where very people can self determine, keep its identity and local interests while being part of a bigger federation, like a super Switzerland, well I'm all for that. But that's not the foundation of present day EU so everyone should know that this is not where we are going (nor where anti-europeans are going too). Not without a revolution first.


Quoting: minfaerPeace and stability come from the aligned economic interests as well as a certain level of education, in my opinion, but not from the dysfunctionality in the representation of interests. Increasing economic entanglement makes conflict inherently lossy for all.

That would be very nice. But that is also naive. That's very OT for a linux forum but whatever. You should know that economic interests are not the end goal of foreign policies. Power, in its broad definition, is. Economic interests are just one aspect of power, and they can be "traded" for any other advantage in other areas that result in an overall growth of power. It happened and happens all the time. Wars pretty much always result in a worsening of economic interests, but they have always been fought anyway. Democracies or not. Wasn't in USA/GB/Netherlands economic interest to continue sell raw materials to Japan and make money, instead of give them no other option than to get these by force in 1941? Or Hitler to continue trade raw materials with Stalin instead of backstab him? Yes it was. Those guys not only went against their economic interest but triggered wars with different luck. But in a bigger picture, what they did was to trade their economic advantages to stop the power growth of a counterpart that was already set to outgrow them in power, before it was to late or to late anyway in these examples. That factoring out ideologies, it would have worked the same way even by swapping these.

Today as Europeans we came to believe that economic interests are the only thing that matters for peace and stability because being part of USA hegemony/empire/sphere of influence whatever one wants to call it, this is the only thing our governments are allowed to pursue under their umbrella (thus we vote politicians to be good at these and mostly only these). When a capital tries to extend its power pojection outiside pure conomic interests, that always irritates Washington (usually it's Paris starting wars or "destabilizing areas" on its own, less frequently London). At the same time the USA trade a lot of their economic interests for other advantages in Europe, like influence or military power presence/projection. And for us as individuals citizens it's not that bad. We have peace and a good life style. US citizens have their hegemony. I don't see how changing the status quo will result to a better life to me or my beloved ones. For what I read on history books Europe has never been a better place to live before. Not saying it's a perfect world. Just that now, in my opinion, there are no winds pushing the ship toward a better one.
While you're here, please consider supporting GamingOnLinux on:

Patreon, Liberapay or PayPal Donation.

This ensures all of our main content remains totally free for everyone with no article paywalls. We also don't have tons of adverts, there's also no tracking and we respect your privacy. Just good, fresh content. Without your continued support, we simply could not continue!

You can find even more ways to support us on this dedicated page any time. If you already are, thank you!
Login / Register

Or login with...
Sign in with Steam Sign in with Twitter Sign in with Google
Social logins require cookies to stay logged in.

Livestreams & Videos
Community Livestreams
Latest Forum Posts