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Valve under investigation by EU Commission over geo-blocking concerns

An investigation to uncover anticompetitive practices in e-commerce is taking a deeper look at Valve and a handful of game publishers that could possibly be in violation of EU competition rules.

Alissa McAloon

February 2, 2017

1 Min Read

An investigation kicked off by the European Commission to uncover anticompetitive practices in e-commerce is taking a deeper look at agreements between Valve and publishers Bandai Namco, Capcom, Focus Home, Koch Media, and Zenimax that could possibly be in violation of EU competition rules.

The Commission is concerned that activation keys used to redeem games on Valve’s digital game storefront could be used to restrict content based on the country of redemption, and aims to find out if bilateral agreements between Valve and the five publishers have encouraged such practices in the past.

Such restrictions would prevent players from looking outside their own country better deals on video games, which the Commission says would negatively impact cross-border competition within EU member states.

If the investigation’s suspicions are found to be true, the companies’ practices could be in breach of EU competition rules set up to avoid restricting parallel trade within the European Union.

Video game companies aren’t the only ones facing recent scrutiny from the European Commission digital geo-blocking concerns; the Commission has also opened investigations into consumer electronics manufacturers and some hotel companies for interfering with similar trade rules. 

About the Author(s)

Alissa McAloon

Publisher, GameDeveloper.com

As the Publisher of Game Developer, Alissa McAloon brings a decade of experience in the video game industry and media. When not working in the world of B2B game journalism, Alissa enjoys spending her time in the worlds of immersive sandbox games or dabbling in the occasional TTRPG.

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