Steam owner Valve as well as five other game pubishers have been fined by the European Commission recently for geo-blocking games in Europe. According to a report by Tech Crunch, the act was a breach of bloc rules within the European Union. The fine totalled €7.8 million among the six defendants which is roughly $9.4 million.

Valve and Five PC Publishers Fined $9.4M for
(Photo : Photo by Bill Oxford on Unsplash)

Apparently, Valve, as well as Capcom, Bandai Namco, Koch Media, Focus Home, and ZeniMax has been limiting buyers from purchasing the games on their platforms based on people's geographical location. Consequently, they have restricted sales of games in some specific locations. According to the European Commission as published on their official website, this act by these companies is a violation of the European Union competition laws.

The Geo-Blocking Regulation in the European Union

Geo-blocking in the European Union refers to limiting a specific geographical location, or buyers from that specific demographic from purchasing products. Usually, people from different countries or continents buy from other places due to these products being cheaper than the products sold within their area.

However, restricting buyers in this case has resulted to a serious legal issue and a heavy fine for these companies. The Commission expressed that in doing so, the companies  that have restricted sale of their items from various locations "denied European consumers the benefits of the EU's Digital Single Market to shop around between Member States to find the most suitable offer".

As NME reports, Commission explicitly stated, "Valve and the publishers restricted cross-border sales of certain PC video games on the basis of the geographical location of users within the European Economic Area ('EEA'), entering into the so- called 'geo-blocking' practices." According to the commission, this act is tantamount to "geo-blocking" which companies should be aware of as an offense in the first place.

For the Commission, buyers looking for the most cost-effective and suitable choices even outside of their locale is their right to do so, and thus should not be denied. The commission specified that there were "around 100 PC video games of different genres, including sports, simulation and action games" that had been involved in the restriction. However, no specific titles were named from the incident.

Read more: European Union Seeks to Restrict Tech Giants From Grinding Smaller Competitors WIth Updated Tax and Content Rules

Valve Denies Non-Participation Claims with European Commission

The act has resulted to a heavy fine against these companies. What's more unfortunate is that according to the officials, Valve "chose not to cooperate with the Commission". Because of this, the company was fined over €1.6million

Valve refuted this claim by saying in an interview through The Verge that "Valve has cooperated fully, providing all requested evidence and information to the Commission.

"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.", they added.

On the other hand, the five other game publishers agreed to cooperate with the commission. Nonetheless they were still fined a hefty amount. In total, they were fined over €6 million.

So far, this is where the legal proceeding have taken them. Current news about market changes on game sales in the European Union have not been reported yet.

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Written by Nikki D

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