The European Commission has fined Steam owner Valve and five other game publishers for geo-blocking games in Europe.
In a statement published on its website, the Commission said that Valve – along with Capcom, Bandai Namco, ZeniMax, Koch Media and Focus Home – had restricted sales of games on its platform based on the geographical location of users, which is in violation of EU competition laws.
“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,” the Comission stated.
Geo-blocking refers to the practice of limiting a country or continent’s players from purchasing products from outside of their specified region, where the products might be cheaper.
The Commission noted that through geo-blocking, the companies involved “denied European consumers the benefits of the EU’s Digital Single Market to shop around between Member States to find the most suitable offer”. It added that “around 100 PC video games of different genres, including sports, simulation and action games” had been affected, although no specific titles were named.
Valve is being fined over €1.6million (£1.42million) as the company “chose not to cooperate with the Commission”. The five other publishers, however, agreed to cooperate and are being fined a total of over €6million (£5.32million).
A Valve spokesperson has since refuted the European Commission’s claims of its uncooperative conduct. “During the seven year investigation Valve has cooperated fully, providing all requested evidence and information to the Commission”, they told The Verge. “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.”