Valve: big fine for Steam and five other publishers for geo-blocking games in Europe

It's time to check out for Valve and other PC game publishers – the European Commission has decided to impose a finein the total amount of 7.8 million euros ” on these heavyweights of the video game market for agreement and violation of European laws concerning anti-competitive practices.

At issue: the geo-blocking of certain PC game keys, which cannot be activated on the Steam digital sales platform outside their countries of origin …

Valve: big fine for Steam and five other publishers for geo-blocking games in Europe


Opened in 2017, a formal examination procedure had looked into the practices of “geo-blocking”, or geo-blocking on the part of Steam and five other publishers on a selection of PC games. The facts go back to a very specific period – between 2010 and 2015, certain digital game activation keys were thus geo-blocked in their countries of origin: this concerns the Check Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Romania. It was therefore impossible for consumers located outside these states to take advantage of the reduced prices – Steam adjusting the pricing of games according to standard of living – by purchasing keys from these territories and activating them on Steam.

Capcom, Focus Home and others in the case

Valve was thus condemned for anti-competitive proceedings in the amount of € 1,664,000. The five other publishers affected by this sanction are: Bandai Namco (€ 340,000), Capcom (€ 396,000), Focus Home (€ 2,888,000), Koch Media (€ 977,000), ZeniMax (€ 1,664,000), each having seen their fines reduced from 10 to 15% for “ cooperation ” with the European Commission.

The Executive Vice-President in charge of competition policy Margrethe Vestager opened up a statement posted on the European Commission website:

“More than 50% of Europeans aged 6 to 64 play video games. The European video game industry is on the rise and currently weighs more than 17 billion euros. Sanctions adopted today against the "geo-blocking" practices of Valve and five PC video game publishers are a reminder that under EU competition law, companies are prohibited from contractually restricting sales. cross-border. Such practices deprive European consumers of the benefits of the EU's digital single market and the ability to compare prices in order to find the offer that suits them best in the EU. "