The EU hits Valve, Capcom, Bethesda, more, with fines for "geo-blocking" game sales

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It's been two years since Steam implemented protections against customers spoofing their location to buy games from other countries' storefronts, as gamers tried to use currency conversions in order to get games for far cheaper than they normally would be in their home region. It's also been almost two years since the European Commission filed charges against Valve for doing so, as according to them, it prevented members of the European Union from being able to freely shop for the best available prices within any country inside the EU. Now, as result of that, the EU has hit them, along with five other video game publishers with major fines over "geo-blocking" customers. Valve, ZeniMax, Focus Home Interactive, Capcom, Koch Media, and Bandai Namco have been fined to the tune of € 7.8 million total. Valve, as they refused to cooperate with the Commission, was fined €1.6 million, while the other publishers had their fees decreased somewhat, as they worked alongside the Commission during the investigation. European publisher Focus Home was fined €2.9 million, ZeniMax--parent company of Bethesda--was fined $1.6 million, Koch was fined €1 million, while Capcom and Bandai Namco weren't fined as much, at €396,000 and €340,000 respectively.

Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: “More than 50% of all Europeans play video games. The videogame industry in Europe is thriving and it is now worth over € 17 billion. Today's sanctions against the “geo-blocking” practices of Valve and five PC video game publishers serve as a reminder that under EU competition law, companies are prohibited from contractually restricting cross-border sales. Such practices deprive European consumers of the benefits of the EU Digital Single Market and of the opportunity to shop around for the most suitable offer in the EU”.

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Redferne

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That's what you get for trying to stop people from scamming your system, Valve :angry:
There is no scamming. If you live in a country member of the common market you are allowed to shop anywhere in the common market. By restricting it you are going against the law, that's the reason they were fined.

Of course that doesn't apply if you tried to buy outside of the common market ;)
 

AbyssalMonkey

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This is a pretty big double edged sword that the EU is throwing around. While I'm in general not in favor of region blocking (fucking Nintendo not letting me play JP games on my US console), regional pricing is generally a consumer friendly move. The standard of living and wages are (probably) vastly different across the EU, and all that this is going to do is have valve say "fuck it, you're all paying $60 for the game now", because that's what the majority of their consumers are already purchasing in wealthier places (France and Germany, maybe). Now places with a lower standard of living are going to have their prices raised.

This is much easier to imagine when you compare the standards of living in the west vs a country like India, where $60 is estimated to be roughly $1260 USD equivalent. You think anybody in India is going to be buying games at such an absurd rate? The answer is no, so they geo-lock the software and sell it for cheaper instead, where they might actually be able to make legitimate sales instead of no sales at all.
 
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Localhorst86

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This is a pretty big double edged sword that the EU is throwing around. While I'm in general not in favor of region blocking (fucking Nintendo not letting me play JP games on my US console), regional pricing is generally a consumer friendly move. The standard of living and wages are (probably) vastly different across the EU, and all that this is going to do is have valve say "fuck it, you're all paying $60 for the game now", because that's what the majority of their consumers are already purchasing in wealthier places (France and Germany, maybe). Now places with a lower standard of living are going to have their prices raised.

This is much easier to imagine when you compare the standards of living in the west vs a country like India, where $60 is estimated to be roughly $1260 USD equivalent. You think anybody in India is going to be buying games at such an absurd rate? The answer is no, so they geo-lock the software and sell it for cheaper instead, where they might actually be able to make legitimate sales instead of no sales at all.
Last time I have checked, though, India is not in the EU.

The issue is not that they are not offering specific games in specific countries (in fact, that's still required by law of specific countries), the issue is not even that they charge different prices in different countries, they are free to do so. The issue is these companies selling in the EU single market, but preventing someone from within the EU to buy from somewhere else in the EU - which is the entire purpose of the EU single market.
 
Last edited by Localhorst86,
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I'm at that age where I can appreciate that certain things are unique to certain regions; it creates added value and desirability.
As such, I'm really not too concerned with this.

If the game is in my region and is good then I'll buy it; if it's good and not in my region then I'll either wait or import it.
If it's neither good nor in my region then good riddance.
 
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This is ridiculous. First worlders trying to gatekeep the developing world from getting games at prices we can afford. Steam REVOLUTIONIZED legitimate game sales in the developing world, moving the needle on piracy to a crazy degree. It's literally what personally allowed me to stop pirating.

Fuck the EU.
 

guisadop

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sadly who's affected by this the most are europeans living in the less-rich countries, since valve will probably have to use a single price for all countries in the EU. for people in germany and france for example it's likely that pretty much nothing will change.
 

Rahkeesh

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If you don't like the single market, maybe leave the fucking single market, the UK just did. Don't rely on certain industries breaking the law for you when its convenient.
 

ChibiMofo

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I hope this extends to bigger companies, like Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony, who have their own digital markets and restrict what can be bought where, gifted to who, etc. I'm really wanting to gift a few games to friends living abroad.

This has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with any of that. You need to learn a little bit more about what the EU is (it is great, unlike was the asshat who responded first said, and the UK was very, very dumb to have left the EU like Putin wanted them to) and what these companies were being fined for.
 

Redferne

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This is ridiculous. First worlders trying to gatekeep the developing world from getting games at prices we can afford. Steam REVOLUTIONIZED legitimate game sales in the developing world, moving the needle on piracy to a crazy degree. It's literally what personally allowed me to stop pirating.

Fuck the EU.
You obviously have no idea what this article is about...
 

Dimensional

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This has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with any of that. You need to learn a little bit more about what the EU is (it is great, unlike was the asshat who responded first said, and the UK was very, very dumb to have left the EU like Putin wanted them to) and what these companies were being fined for.
Fair enough. However what they did, by extension, was prevent customer from buying games and gifting them to friends. I can't buy a copy of a game in the US to gift to a friend in the UK because of these Geo-locks. And it's a multiplayer game. Doesn't matter to me if the cost of the game is different, or isn't even sold in that region. I just want to buy it so we can play a game together. While the fine may not stop them from continuing, it does hurt them a little bit in the wallet. Depends on how much.
 
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