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Valve, Capcom, Bethesda and others fined €7.8m in EU over geo-block exploit

Published: 16:12, 20 January 2021
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Counter-Strike: Global Offensive rules

Valve, Bandai Namco, Capcom, Focus Home, Koch Media and Bethesda's parent company Zenimax all got fined by the European Commission for violating relevant antitrust laws.

What the defendants did wasn't overly covert or anything, mind you - they simply opted to restrict cross-border sales of some PC games. However, they did so by using geo-block to mark out the geographical locations of players in the EU zone. 

Seemingly nothing but a technicality, it is specifically that which caused the companies' sales strategies to be classified as a violation of antitrust laws. And European laws clearly don't mess around with this. 

So, Valve and the rest of their accomplices decide on the main sales regions for a game, after which Steam and/or the publisher issue Steam keys. These are shipped to their respective regions to be flogged to the masses, which is where the problem arises. 

Come in consumer from country B, who is interested in the game but unaware that his region is blocked on the keys he's buying, and you're smack dab in the middle of the issue. 

Heck, you could argue that Valve, Bandai Namco, Capcom, Focus Home, Koch Media and Zenimax seeded the same grey CD key market they're so harshly criticising. Ironic. 

"Bilateral agreements and/or concerted practices between Valve and each of the five PC video game publisher implemented by means of geo-blocked Steam activation keys which prevented the activation of certain of these publishers' PC video games outside Czechia, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, in response to unsolicited consumer requests (so-called “passive sales”)", the EU Commission wrote. 

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To make matters worse, Valve were the only ones who weren't cooperating, which resulted in a much higher fine, a bit above €1.6 million. The rest of the companies played along, which is why they were granted reductions of 10 and 15 per cent, the latter especially for Capcom. 

You can check out the full fines in the table below, or check out the EU Commission's report here .

Videogame publisher

Reduction for cooperation

Fine (€)

Bandai Namco

10 %

340 000 EUR


15 %

396 000 EUR

Focus Home

10 %

2 888 000 EUR

Koch Media

10 %

977 000 EUR


10 %

1 664 000 EUR

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