European Commission fines Steam and 5 Publishers for Geo Blocking

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Author:

Jordan Smith

Publish Date:

21 Jan 2021

The European Commission has imposed fines on five publishers and digital distributer Steam for geo-blocking games within the European Union. Geo-blocking prevents gamers from activating and playing their games outside of certain countries where games may be cheaper. The blocking of these games goes against the EU’s Digital Single Market Law. The Commission stated that the companies geo-blocked approximately 100 PC games and fined €7.8 Million between them.

The European Commission has stated that the Publishers have been preventing games being played and activated from The Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. If games were purchased in any of these countries, they couldn’t be played in other countries, such as France, Spain or Germany. The investigation has been ongoing for almost seven years, with Valve’s Steam receiving fine of €1.6 million, as it was through the platform geo-blocking took place. Valve prevented geo-blocking in 2015, and after that region locking was done so in compliance with EU Law. However, the European Commission has stated that Valve did not cooperate during the investigation and will not see a reduced fine. Valve is currently appealing the fine, and we will have more information on this as the situation progresses.

The other publishers: Focus Home, Koch Media, Bandai Namco, Zeni Max and Capcom were all fined between €340 thousand and 2.9 Million as for geo-blocking on Steam and other digital media distributors, each receiving reduced fine for their cooperation during the investigation, you can see each of the penalties imposed in the image below. If you would like to know more about the investigation results, be sure to follow this link: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_21_170 to the European Commissions page, where all of the findings have been presented.

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