EU’s Kommissionen, med vores danske konkurrencekommissær Margrethe Vesterager i spidsen, vil nu undersøge, om Valve og fem udgivere har indgået ulovlige aftaler, som bl.a. omfatter geo-blocking.

I en pressemeddelelse nævner Margrethe Vestager specifikt Bandai Namco, Capcom, Focus Home Entertainment, Koch Media og ZeniMax, som er under mistanke for at have indgået aftaler med Valve omkring Steam-platformen, som er i strid med det europæiske konkurrenceregler.

Vestager har været særdeles effektiv i sin rolle som EU’s konkurrencekommissær. Hun stod bag det rekordstore erstatningskrav til Apple for deres skatteunddragelser i Irland.

The Commission is investigating bilateral agreements concluded between Valve Corporation, owner of the Steam game distribution platform, and five PC video game publishers, Bandai Namco, Capcom, Focus Home, Koch Media and ZeniMax. The investigation concerns geo-blocking practices, where companies prevent consumers from purchasing digital content, in this case PC video games, because of the consumer’s location or country of residence.

After the purchase of certain PC video games users need to confirm that their copy of the game is not pirated to be able to play it. This is done with an “activation key” on Valve’s game distribution platform, Steam. This system is applied for a wide range of games, including sports, simulation and action games.

The investigation focuses on whether the agreements in question require or have required the use of activation keys for the purpose of geo-blocking. In particular, an “activation key” can grant access to a purchased game only to consumers in a particular EU Member State (for example the Czech Republic or Poland). This may amount to a breach of EU competition rules by reducing cross-border competition as a result of restricting so-called “parallel trade” within the Single Market and preventing consumers from buying cheaper games that may be available in other Member States.

The Commission is carrying out this in-depth investigation on its own initiative.