‘Steam’ fined for geo-blocking video games in Europe

EU executive vice president Margrethe Vestager deplored such practices, which deprive European consumers ‘of the opportunity to shop around for the most suitable offer in the EU’. — Reuters pic
EU executive vice president Margrethe Vestager deplored such practices, which deprive European consumers ‘of the opportunity to shop around for the most suitable offer in the EU’. — Reuters pic

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BRUSSELS, Jan 20 — The EU fined the operator of Steam, the world’s largest video game distribution platform, and five publishers €7.8 million (RM38.2 million) for blocking gamers from shopping around Europe for cheaper subscriptions.

Steam, created by Valve Corp in 2003, is considered the most important distribution platform of its kind and used by millions of players around the world.

The EU executive said Valve and the publishers restricted cross-border sales of certain video games in a practice known as “geo-blocking”.

The five publishers were Bandai Namco, Capcom, Focus Home, Koch Media and ZeniMax.

While small, the fine is part of the EU’s effort to open up the European single market, where digital companies have blocked cross-border purchases despite its being made illegal in 2018.

This prevents shoppers in higher priced countries, in France for example, from buying cheaper items or online subscriptions in eastern Europe.

EU executive vice president Margrethe Vestager deplored such practices, which deprive European consumers “of the opportunity to shop around for the most suitable offer in the EU.”

The individual fines against the publishers were reduced as they agreed to cooperate in the case, while Steam’s Valve paid the full €1.6 million demanded. — AFP

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