Back in April, the EU stated its intent to target six game publishers for blocking download codes bought from non-home regions within Europe. Reuters reports that while Bandai Namco, Capcom, Focus Home, Koch Media and ZeniMax intend to settle, Valve plans to fight the charges.
Reuters understands that Valve plans to ask for a closed-door hearing to make its case before officials from the European Commission and national watchdogs. While Valve is yet to comment publicly on the latest developments, it did state in April that only region locking applied to just 3% of all games on Steam, and that locking was turned off in Europe back in 2015.
As for the other companies, all five reportedly plan to settle. Under rules of the EU antitrust, admitting wrongdoing results in a 10% discount in fines.
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“In a true Digital Single Market, European consumers should have the right to buy and play video games of their choice regardless of where they live in the EU,” said the EU commissioner in charge of competition policy, Margrethe Vestager, back in April. “Consumers should not be prevented from shopping around between Member States to find the best available deal.”
Of course, publishers could fairly argue that they have good reason to want to control prices across borders in Europe – it may be a single market, but that doesn’t mean that wages are level between states. In the UK, the average salary is £28,677 per year, but in Poland it’s around the £8,500 mark.
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Whatever the outcome, it’s not clear that the UK will benefit for long. It all depends on whether the plan to leave the EU “do or die” occurs on October 31 as we’ve been told.
Is it fair for publishers to geo-block game codes across regions? Let us know what you think on Twitter: @TrustedReviews.