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European Commission fines 6 video game publishers for geographic blocking
The countries of the European Union form a single, indivisible market... even for video game publishers who like to compartmentalize the distribution of their works.
In April 2019, the European Commission launched an investigation to determine whether or not video game publishers had engaged in anti-competitive behavior. At the time, the Commission had decided to look into the geographical blockades put in place by some video game companies. Companies that prevented games purchased in Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic, Romania or Slovakia from being used outside these countries. Why such a blocking? Because the prices charged in these countries are not the same as in Germany or France, for example.
The publishers concerned wanted to avoid that German or French players could buy cheaper games by connecting - usually via VPNs - to the platforms of the countries concerned. The European Commission has therefore confirmed that such a practice - that of geographic blocking - goes against the rules established throughout the European single market: a company does not have the right to set up a barrier within the European Union.
More specifically, Bandai Namco, Capcom, Focus Home Interactive, Koch Media, Valve and ZeniMax (parent company of Bethesda) were targeted by the fines decided by the Commission. Valve and ZeniMax are fined 1.6 million euros each, while Koch Media must pay 1 million, Capcom 396,000 euros and Bandai Namco 340,000 euros. Focus Home Interactive is the most heavily penalized with a fine of 2.8 million euros. The Commission specifies that the companies that have actively cooperated during the investigation have seen their fine reduced, which probably explains the difference between Valve and Focus Home Interactive for example.