EU Commission opens investigation into Valve

“E-commerce should give consumers a wider choice of goods and services, as well as the opportunity to make purchases across borders”, said commissioner in charge of competition policy Margrethe Vestager.The commission is launching an antitrust investigation into Valve’s business practises alongside Zenimax (Bethesda parent company), Capcom, Bandai Namco, Koch Media and Focus Home.The European Commission is targeting Bellevue, Wash. -based video game company Valve in a new antitrust probe, officials announced Thursday.After the purchase of certain PC video games, users needed to confirm that their copy of the game was not pirated to be able to play it, using an “activation key”.Disparate regional pricing is a lingering issue for Steam and the European Commission’s investigation may lead to more consistent prices for consumers in the future.The investigation concerned geo-blocking practices, where companies prevent consumers from purchasing digital content because of the consumer’s location or country of residence.This investigation concerns agreements between tour operators Kuoni, REWE [REGRP.UL], Thomas Cook and TUI and hotel group Melia.There probably several factors at play here, such as varying levels of sales tax between different countries and local competition in each respective region, but if the Commission rules that Valve and the five publishers are indeed in breach of its anti-competitive practices, then it could mean consumers will be able to buy games from other European Union countries at cheaper prices.The Commission has just opened formal proceedings, and it noted there’s no legal deadline for bringing the investigation to an end, so it could go on for quite a while, depending on the complexity of the case and the cooperation of the companies involved.”However, there are also indications that businesses may themselves establish barriers to cross-border online trade, with a view to fragmenting the EU’s Single Market along national borders and preventing competition”.If it rules Valve and the publishers are in breach of its rules, the EU Commission could open the door to gamers legally buying games in another EU country’s online store at potentially cheaper prices.