×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

European Commission Criticizes Valve for ‘Geo-Blocking’ PC Games

Updated: The European Commission is slamming Valve, owner of the popular digital games store Steam, and five video game publishers for what it calls “geo-blocking” of PC titles.

The commission believes the companies in question prevented European Union consumers from buying and activating digital games outside their countries of residence, which is a breach of EU antitrust rules.

Besides Valve, the commission singled out Bandai Namco, Capcom, Focus Home, Koch Media (which owns publisher Deep Silver), and ZeniMax (the parent company of Bethesda Softworks). It claims those publishers included contractual export restrictions in their agreements with a number of distributors other than Valve. This prevented the distributors from selling PC games outside of their allocated territories.

“In a true digital single market, European consumers should have the right to buy and play video games of their choice regardless of where they live in the EU,” said commissioner Margrethe Vestager. “Consumers should not be prevented from shopping around between Member States to find the best available deal. Valve and the five PC video game publishers now have the chance to respond to our concerns.”

Valve did respond to the European Commission’s concerns on Friday, saying the region locks only applied to a small number of game titles. “Approximately just 3% of all games using Steam (and none of Valve’s own games) at the time were subject to the contested region locks in the [European Economic Area],” the company said in a statement provided to Variety.

Further, Valve said it actually turned off region locks within the EEA starting in 2015, except in countries where it’s a local legal requirement, like Germany, or in areas where there are geographic limits on where a Steam partner is licensed to distribute a game.

Variety reached out to Capcom, Foucs Home, and Bandai Namco about the European Commission’s comments, but they did not immediately respond. Bethesda gave us the following statement:

“The company notes the announcement of the European Commission regarding its EU video games investigation and will be responding to the commission’s concerns. It is the company’s policy not to comment on ongoing legal matters.”

 

Popular on Variety

More Gaming

  • Call of Duty Modern Warfare

    Call of Duty League Commissioner on Why It's Time for a Franchise Model

    “Call of Duty” esports is officially headed for a city-based model. Publisher Activision Blizzard announced over the summer that the newly coined Call of Duty League will have a franchised, home-and-away structure immediately when it launches its inaugural season in early 2020. It’s set 12 teams in 11 cities, and the roster mania has already [...]

  • Nintendo Switch

    Nintendo Switch Unit Sales Top 15 Million in North America Since Launch

    Nintendo is tooting its own horn, boasting that the Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Switch Lite systems have together sold over 15 million units in North America to date. That’s according to the company’s own internal data. As of July, the Nintendo Switch had sold over 36 million consoles worldwide, the company said. Nintendo Switch carries [...]

  • Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order

    'Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order': Respawn CEO on Telling the Story Behind 'Becoming a Jedi'

    When it comes to media properties, it doesn’t get much bigger than “Star Wars.” That sentiment certainly isn’t lost on Vince Zampella, CEO of Respawn Entertainment, the studio behind “Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order.” The title, which follows Jedi Padawan Cal Kestis (voiced by Cameron Monaghan) after the events of “Episode III — Revenge of [...]

  • Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order

    'Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order': What to Expect From EA and Respawn's Latest

    There’s a lot riding on “Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order.” The upcoming title from EA and Respawn is the first major single-player “Star Wars” video game since 2008’s “The Force Unleashed,” and is one of the most anticipated games of 2019. After years of multiplayer adventures, could “Fallen Order” be the title that brings the [...]

  • Google Stadia Game Streaming Service Launching

    Google’s Stadia Game Streaming Service Will Launch Nov. 19

    Google hardware chief Rick Osterloh gave us an update on the company’s game streaming service Stadia during the company’s fall hardware event in New York Tuesday: Stadia will be available to the public on Nov. 19. Stadia promises to stream games directly from the cloud, with no need to buy a full-blown game console. Consumers [...]

  • Fortnite Chapter 2

    'Fortnite' Emerges From Black Hole With All-New Island in Chapter 2

    After its previous world was sucked into a black hole, “Fortnite” is back — with an all-new island featuring a map with 13 different locations. The latest installment of the free-to-play battle royale game, which publisher Epic Games calls the first season of “Fortnite” Chapter 2, went live early Tuesday at around 6 a.m. ET. [...]

  • Fortnite-Season-X-Out-of-Time

    'Fortnite' Goes Dark: A Masterful Marketing Stroke by Epic Games

    On Sunday, “Fortnite” — the most popular game on Earth right now — without warning, imploded into darkness. At around 2 p.m. ET on Oct. 13, a meteor in Season 10 of “Fortnite” that had been biding its time set off a cataclysmic chain reaction that sucked up everything on the the island and eventually [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content