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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Re: Valve EU Fine Follow-up
Jan 21, 2021, 10:42
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

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.
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Re: Valve EU Fine Follow-up
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