Valve EU Fine Follow-up

Valve (who many seem surprised are still making games) offers a response to the news that they are being fined in the EU for geo-blocking game sales on Steam. They state that third parties have requested region-locked keys, and that Valve does not profit from the practice:
During the seven year investigation, Valve cooperated extensively with the European Commission (“EC”), providing evidence and information as requested. However, Valve declined to admit that it broke the law, as the EC demanded. Valve disagrees with the EC findings and the fine levied against Valve.

The EC’s charges do not relate to the sale of PC games on Steam – Valve’s PC gaming service. Instead the EC alleges that Valve enabled geo-blocking by providing Steam activation keys and – upon the publishers’ request – locking those keys to particular territories (“region locks”) within the EEA.

Such keys allow a customer to activate and play a game on Steam when the user has purchased it from a third-party reseller. Valve provides Steam activation keys free of charge and does not receive any share of the purchase price when a game is sold by third-party resellers (such as a retailer or other online store).

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 EEA. Valve believes that the EC’s extension of liability to a platform provider in these circumstances is not supported by applicable law. Nonetheless, because of the EC’s concerns, Valve actually turned off region locks within the EEA starting in 2015, unless those region locks were necessary for local legal requirements (such as German content laws) or geographic limits on where the Steam partner is licensed to distribute a game. The elimination of region locks may also cause publishers to raise prices in less affluent regions to avoid price arbitrage. There are no costs involved in sending activation keys from one country to another, and the activation key is all a user needs to activate and play a PC game.
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19.
 
Re: Valve EU Fine Follow-up
Jan 22, 2021, 13:14
19.
Re: Valve EU Fine Follow-up Jan 22, 2021, 13:14
Jan 22, 2021, 13:14
 
El Pit wrote on Jan 22, 2021, 08:53:
Apples/oranges. But since you want to compare the fossile fuels market to the entertainment industry (Steam) and the digital market and distribution: Do the US sell their own oil to poorer countries all over the world at a price that relates to the average wages in those countries? I highly doubt it. When it comes to games, though...

Whatever. Valve will give in, the EU (as ONE market) is just too huge to be ignored.

Oil prices are the same on a government level, but poorer countries will subsidize consumer prices to make fuel affordable to their citizenry (with poor results). I don't think they do that for video games. But that's what I was asking, since I have no view from the ground -- what do people in poorer EU countries do about a fixed price? Is gaming reserved for the upper class? Does everyone pirate their games? Do they just suck it up and pay a higher proportion of wages towards entertainment? What's the end result for them?
18.
 
Re: Valve EU Fine Follow-up
Jan 22, 2021, 08:53
El Pit
 
18.
Re: Valve EU Fine Follow-up Jan 22, 2021, 08:53
Jan 22, 2021, 08:53
 El Pit
 
Orogogus wrote on Jan 22, 2021, 00:33:
El Pit wrote on Jan 21, 2021, 12:33:
If Steam wants to prove the EU (which is much more than just a trade union nowadays) wrong, they should start selling games at higher prices (excluding VAT) in richer US states and at lower prices in poorer US states - of course "state-locking" the prices. This might change the EU's mind, nothing else will do.
This sounds like the same whataboutism that the US uses to derail fossil fuel regulation -- what about all those countries in Africa that get to burn all the coal they want? The problem doesn't have to be addressed until everyone else is perfect.

Average wage by states in the US is between $44-116K, or $44-76K if limited to the states. So worst-case 2.6 times between the lowest and highest, or 73% in the states. The average wage in the EU has a much wider spread, 6.4 times between Bulgaria and Iceland.

But I'm just looking at numbers. Are there any Blues readers from Eastern Europe or other lower wage countries in the EU? How does it actually work? Can people generally afford games, or does everyone just pirate their games?

Apples/oranges. But since you want to compare the fossile fuels market to the entertainment industry (Steam) and the digital market and distribution: Do the US sell their own oil to poorer countries all over the world at a price that relates to the average wages in those countries? I highly doubt it. When it comes to games, though...

Whatever. Valve will give in, the EU (as ONE market) is just too huge to be ignored.
"There is no right life in the wrong one." (Theodor W. Adorno, philosopher)
"Only a Sith deals in absolutes." (Obi-Wan Kenobi, Jedi)
17.
 
Re: Valve EU Fine Follow-up
Jan 22, 2021, 02:48
17.
Re: Valve EU Fine Follow-up Jan 22, 2021, 02:48
Jan 22, 2021, 02:48
 
drloser wrote on Jan 22, 2021, 01:36:
Average doesn't mean much. There are a lot more inequalities in the US than in the EU. You should compare median salary instead. And also remove the micro-countries.

I started with the median because I felt it was a better measure, too, but the Wikipedia page doesn't have them for Europe.

What are the greater inequalities in the US? The US has an extreme problem with its top echelon, but video games aren't priced for the 1%.

Iceland is not in the EU.
Yeah, I'm not sure why I said Iceland. I'm pretty sure I meant Denmark, since I was excluding Luxembourg due to the micro-country thing. My bad.

Orogogus wrote on Jan 22, 2021, 00:33:
But I'm just looking at numbers. Are there any Blues readers from Eastern Europe or other lower wage countries in the EU? How does it actually work? Can people generally afford games, or does everyone just pirate their games?
Almost all the games are heavily discounted a couple of months after their release date.
Looking at a few games currently discounted in the US (Code Vein, Resident Evil 3), it doesn't seem like the EU prices get discounted any more than the US prices. Does that really make them accessible in Eastern Europe?
16.
 
Re: Valve EU Fine Follow-up
Jan 22, 2021, 01:36
16.
Re: Valve EU Fine Follow-up Jan 22, 2021, 01:36
Jan 22, 2021, 01:36
 
Average doesn't mean much. There are a lot more inequalities in the US than in the EU. You should compare median salary instead. And also remove the micro-countries.

Orogogus wrote on Jan 22, 2021, 00:33:
The average wage in the EU has a much wider spread, 6.4 times between Bulgaria and Iceland.
Iceland is not in the EU.

Orogogus wrote on Jan 22, 2021, 00:33:
But I'm just looking at numbers. Are there any Blues readers from Eastern Europe or other lower wage countries in the EU? How does it actually work? Can people generally afford games, or does everyone just pirate their games?
Almost all the games are heavily discounted a couple of months after their release date.

This comment was edited on Jan 22, 2021, 01:52.
15.
 
Re: Valve EU Fine Follow-up
Jan 22, 2021, 00:33
15.
Re: Valve EU Fine Follow-up Jan 22, 2021, 00:33
Jan 22, 2021, 00:33
 
El Pit wrote on Jan 21, 2021, 12:33:
If Steam wants to prove the EU (which is much more than just a trade union nowadays) wrong, they should start selling games at higher prices (excluding VAT) in richer US states and at lower prices in poorer US states - of course "state-locking" the prices. This might change the EU's mind, nothing else will do.
This sounds like the same whataboutism that the US uses to derail fossil fuel regulation -- what about all those countries in Africa that get to burn all the coal they want? The problem doesn't have to be addressed until everyone else is perfect.

Average wage by states in the US is between $44-116K, or $44-76K if limited to the states. So worst-case 2.6 times between the lowest and highest, or 73% in the states. The average wage in the EU has a much wider spread, 6.4 times between Bulgaria and Iceland.

But I'm just looking at numbers. Are there any Blues readers from Eastern Europe or other lower wage countries in the EU? How does it actually work? Can people generally afford games, or does everyone just pirate their games?
14.
 
Re: Valve EU Fine Follow-up
Jan 21, 2021, 14:27
14.
Re: Valve EU Fine Follow-up Jan 21, 2021, 14:27
Jan 21, 2021, 14:27
 
Liars. Of course they profit from the practice. Geo-blocking did not magically program itself into Steam. Valve included it at the request of gaming publishers and of course they did so because of the money involved. Valve did this to retain the publishers as happy customers.
13.
 
Re: Valve EU Fine Follow-up
Jan 21, 2021, 12:33
El Pit
 
13.
Re: Valve EU Fine Follow-up Jan 21, 2021, 12:33
Jan 21, 2021, 12:33
 El Pit
 
If Steam wants to prove the EU (which is much more than just a trade union nowadays) wrong, they should start selling games at higher prices (excluding VAT) in richer US states and at lower prices in poorer US states - of course "state-locking" the prices. This might change the EU's mind, nothing else will do.
"There is no right life in the wrong one." (Theodor W. Adorno, philosopher)
"Only a Sith deals in absolutes." (Obi-Wan Kenobi, Jedi)
12.
 
Re: Valve EU Fine Follow-up
Jan 21, 2021, 12:25
12.
Re: Valve EU Fine Follow-up Jan 21, 2021, 12:25
Jan 21, 2021, 12:25
 
Regional pricing is grossly unfair because it's completely arbitrary. The Canadian and Aus dollars are on par yet we pay 20%-50% more on average for the same copy of a digital item in relation to the USD/Pound/Euro. Our economies are smaller and weaker yet we pay more - because a buck is worth only a buck in it's home country regardless of how currency markets peg them. Then you have other countries whose economies are also weaker but these same publishers charge far less for the exact same product. Cyberpunk here is $80 CDN yet in Russia it's only $34 CDN. And I believe it's even cheaper in a lot of the Latin American and Asian countries. In what fucking universe is that remotely fair?
"You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life."
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11.
 
Re: Valve EU Fine Follow-up
Jan 21, 2021, 10:42
11.
Re: Valve EU Fine Follow-up Jan 21, 2021, 10:42
Jan 21, 2021, 10:42
 
I feel the primary negative effects of this will be felt in the Steam PC Cafe program https://support.steampowered.com/kb_article.php?ref=3303-QWRC-3436

This exists to allow businesses like LAN Cafes and VR centers to gain legal access to games and apps in the Steam Store, at rates that the publisher (NOT STEAM!) sets. For instance, a VR game like Arizona Sunshine, or Job Simulator, is a one-time purchase in the store for consumers. For VR centers, it is a monthly fee ($80 per month per station last time I checked). This fee would have to vary based on the location the key is used in, because no VR arcade in Slovenia for instance can afford to pay the same license fees as one in central London. The economics just aren't there to support the program if it is done on an all-EU basis.
10.
 
Re: Valve EU Fine Follow-up
Jan 21, 2021, 04:41
10.
Re: Valve EU Fine Follow-up Jan 21, 2021, 04:41
Jan 21, 2021, 04:41
 
Orogogus wrote on Jan 21, 2021, 03:00:
Unless the bulk of EU revenues are coming from Slovenia or Romania, then why wouldn't you expect those lower prices to just go away, and everyone just gets stuck with the higher prices?
It's already the case on Steam. There just one price in €. Example: https://steamdb.info/app/1091500/
9.
 
Re: Valve EU Fine Follow-up
Jan 21, 2021, 04:23
9.
Re: Valve EU Fine Follow-up Jan 21, 2021, 04:23
Jan 21, 2021, 04:23
 
roguebanshee wrote on Jan 21, 2021, 04:14:
eRe4s3r wrote on Jan 21, 2021, 02:45:
Valves statement is kinda hilarious, which part of "EU = single digital market" does Valve not understand?
To me it just feels like the usual "But our corporation is special" type of spiel that you hear from any corporation asked to follow the law.
Exactly. It's very clear that Valve is violating EU law by allowing for geo-blocking within the EU. It's just trying to weasel out of it by claiming it doesn't charge for the service and just allows other publishers to geo-block titles. It's like claiming that a getaway driver isn't part of the bank robbery because they were only helping transport the actual criminals and didn't take any money from the crime themselves.
"The price of freedom is eternal vigilance."
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8.
 
Re: Valve EU Fine Follow-up
Jan 21, 2021, 04:22
8.
Re: Valve EU Fine Follow-up Jan 21, 2021, 04:22
Jan 21, 2021, 04:22
 
I mean it does kind of seem like the bad actors in these particular instances were the third party resellers.

This seems like the usual case of long attempts to punish corporations - yes the corporation is shady, but by the time the court cases cleared they are in trouble for the smallest of the shady things they did. Like the microsoft/internet explorer bundling which is laughable today, when things like the apple app store (or all of that annoying bundled android stuff) exists. Like, that concept of "you get our software built in" became much more annoying but the worse applications of it are never punished.
7.
 
Re: Valve EU Fine Follow-up
Jan 21, 2021, 04:14
7.
Re: Valve EU Fine Follow-up Jan 21, 2021, 04:14
Jan 21, 2021, 04:14
 
eRe4s3r wrote on Jan 21, 2021, 02:45:
Valves statement is kinda hilarious, which part of "EU = single digital market" does Valve not understand?
To me it just feels like the usual "But our corporation is special" type of spiel that you hear from any corporation asked to follow the law.
6.
 
Re: Valve EU Fine Follow-up
Jan 21, 2021, 03:12
6.
Re: Valve EU Fine Follow-up Jan 21, 2021, 03:12
Jan 21, 2021, 03:12
 
Orogogus wrote on Jan 21, 2021, 03:00:
eRe4s3r wrote on Jan 21, 2021, 02:45:
Valves statement is kinda hilarious, which part of "EU = single digital market" does Valve not understand? That we can buy games cheaper in other EU countries is literally the point of it. We've been paying 20% more than everyone else for so long that it's only fair to show publishers what we really think of them....

Unless the bulk of EU revenues are coming from Slovenia or Romania, then why wouldn't you expect those lower prices to just go away, and everyone just gets stuck with the higher prices?

I fully expect that to happen actually. Will it be 60€ or 50€ or 40€ though.. at least the pricing will be fair. And maybe Publishers stop caring and we can all benefit...
Avatar 54727
5.
 
Re: Valve EU Fine Follow-up
Jan 21, 2021, 03:00
5.
Re: Valve EU Fine Follow-up Jan 21, 2021, 03:00
Jan 21, 2021, 03:00
 
eRe4s3r wrote on Jan 21, 2021, 02:45:
Valves statement is kinda hilarious, which part of "EU = single digital market" does Valve not understand? That we can buy games cheaper in other EU countries is literally the point of it. We've been paying 20% more than everyone else for so long that it's only fair to show publishers what we really think of them....

Unless the bulk of EU revenues are coming from Slovenia or Romania, then why wouldn't you expect those lower prices to just go away, and everyone just gets stuck with the higher prices?
4.
 
Re: Valve EU Fine Follow-up
Jan 21, 2021, 02:45
4.
Re: Valve EU Fine Follow-up Jan 21, 2021, 02:45
Jan 21, 2021, 02:45
 
Valves statement is kinda hilarious, which part of "EU = single digital market" does Valve not understand? That we can buy games cheaper in other EU countries is literally the point of it. We've been paying 20% more than everyone else for so long that it's only fair to show publishers what we really think of them....
Avatar 54727
3.
 
Re: Valve EU Fine Follow-up
Jan 20, 2021, 22:49
Kxmode
 
3.
Re: Valve EU Fine Follow-up Jan 20, 2021, 22:49
Jan 20, 2021, 22:49
 Kxmode
 
Bill Borre wrote on Jan 20, 2021, 20:13:
I haven't seen a pic of Gabe for a few years. The last one I saw he looked like any fat guy and now he looks like Santa.

He's in New Zealand Middle Earth so he's looking very Hobbitish.
"Hard times create strong men. Strong men create good times. Good times create weak men. And, weak men create hard times." - Those Who Remain by G. Michael Hopf
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2.
 
Re: Valve EU Fine Follow-up
Jan 20, 2021, 20:13
2.
Re: Valve EU Fine Follow-up Jan 20, 2021, 20:13
Jan 20, 2021, 20:13
 
I haven't seen a pic of Gabe for a few years. The last one I saw he looked like any fat guy and now he looks like Santa.
1.
 
Re: Valve EU Fine Follow-up
Jan 20, 2021, 19:36
1.
Re: Valve EU Fine Follow-up Jan 20, 2021, 19:36
Jan 20, 2021, 19:36
 
Huh. I guess they should import all physical items at zero shipping fees and no import taxes, since that’s basically what they’re asking game companies to compete with digitally.
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