If it is still grappling with the pandemic and delaying vaccine delivery, Europe has other problems too, such as practices that violate its anti-competitive rules. The bad students of the video game get a magic wand on their fingers.
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The European Commission a rvl this wednesday january 20 Bandai Namco, Capcom, Focus Home Interactive, Koch Media, Zenimax and Valve, owners of Steam, fined a total of EUR 7.8 million. For the institution of the European Union chaired by Ursula von der Leyen since 2019, everyone has been guilty of restricting the sale of games by geographic location.
The Commission has found that, through the bilateral agreement to block certain PC video games outside a certain area, Valve and each of the publishers have split the EEA market in breach of EU rules through anti-competitive practices. In particular, the decisions made today state that Valve and the editors have used the following geo-blocking practices:
• Bilateral agreements and / or concerted practices between Valve and each of the five publishers of PC video games implemented using Goblock Steam activation keys that have prevented the activation of some PC video games from those publishers outside of the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Romania , Slovakia, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in response to unsolicited inquiries (known as passive sales). These lasted between one and five years and were implemented between September 2010 and October 2015, depending on the case
• Geoblocking practices in the form of licensing and distribution agreements bilaterally between four of the five PC video game publishers (Bandai, Focus Home, Koch Media and ZeniMax) and some of their respective video game distributors PC in the EEA (excluding Valve) , which contains clauses that restrict the cross-border (passive) sale of the PC video games concerned in the EEA, in particular in the Central and Eastern European countries mentioned above. These usually lasted longer between three and eleven years and were implemented between March 2007 and November 2018, depending on bilateral relations.
Since not all consumers were in the same store, the editors worked together and saw that their sentence was reduced (340,000 dollars for Bandai Namco, 396,000 for Capcom, 2,888,000 for Focus, 977,000 for Koch Media and 1,664,000 for Zenimax) this is not the case with Valve that coped with a penalty of 1,624,000 dollars.
The Executive Vice President for Competition Policy commented:
Over 50% of Europeans aged 6 to 64 play video games. The European video game industry is on the rise and currently weighs more than 17 billion dollars. The sanctions imposed today on the geo-blocking practices of Valve and five PC video game manufacturers are a reminder that EU competition law prohibits companies from contractually restricting cross-border sales. Such practices deprive European consumers of the benefits of the EU’s digital single market and the ability to compare prices in order to find the offer that best suits them in the EU.