Nearly two years after filing charges, the European Union is demanding remedies from Valve and other publishers for geo-blocking games. The European Commission has fined Valve, Bandai Namco, Capcom, Focus Home, Koch Media and Bethesda owner ZeniMax a total of €7.8 million (over $9.4 million) for restricting access to some Steam games between EU countries. The move violated competition law barring companies from restricting cross-border sales in the Union, officials said.
There were varying geo-blocking agreements and “concerted practices” between Valve and the publishers from September 2010 through October 2015, according to the Commission. The publishers saw their fines reduced by at least 10 percent for cooperating with regulators, but Valve is facing a full penalty (over €1.6 million, or more than $1.9 million) for fighting the charges.
We’ve asked Valve for comment. The geo-blocking ostensibly prevented people in one EU country from buying cheaper Steam keys in another, cutting into profits.
The fines are relatively small for most of the companies. However, they do send a signal that the EU won’t tolerate game companies (and other digital goods makers) limiting access to games within its market. That’s generally good news for gamers looking for deals, although it could lead to stores and publishers raising prices in some countries to compensate.