THE EUROPEAN UNION IS GOING TO TAKE a good and probably very long look at the online pricing practices of a lot of firms, as it tries to come to a decision on whether they have been real pricks to consumers and come to some sort of over-pricing agreement between themselves.
There are a lot of firms involved, and they include hardware companies, games pipes, publishers, and hotels. We don't care about hotels, but the first two categories are just our bag.
The EU is taking on some big names in the hardware and gaming markets, and it isn't going to be messing about. It wants to know if they have applied some sort of cheat code, or backdoor, to sales terms and online marketing work in order to create a market that is restrictive and bad to everyone except those involved.
"E-commerce should give consumers a wider choice of goods and services, as well as the opportunity to make purchases across borders," EU regulators said.
"The three investigations we have opened today focus on practices where we suspect companies are trying to deny these benefits for consumers," said Margrethe Vestager, the commissioner in charge of competition policy.
"The cases concern the consumer electronics, video games and hotel accommodation sectors. More specifically, we are looking into whether these companies are breaking EU competition rules by unfairly restricting retail prices or by excluding customers from certain offers because of their nationality or location."
The hardware companies that might be tempted to start destroying old disk drives and email accounts are Asus, Denon & Marantz, Philips and Pioneer. The EU is concerned that they have all stopped online retailers from setting their own prices on goods and items.
The games case is slightly different and will investigate whether Valve, which operates Steam, has colluded with Bandai Namco, Capcom, Focus Home, Koch Media and ZeniMax, to restrict consumer access to content depending on their location and the activation keys that they use.
"The investigation focuses on whether the agreements in question require or have required the use of activation keys for the purpose of geo-blocking. In particular, an ‘activation key' can grant access to a purchased game only to consumers in a particular EU Member State (for example the Czech Republic or Poland)," explains the EU.
"This may amount to a breach of EU competition rules by reducing cross-border competition as a result of restricting so-called ‘parallel trade' within the Single Market and preventing consumers from buying cheaper games that may be available in other Member States."
The Commission said that is carrying out these in-depth investigations on its own initiative, which means that no one grassed. µ
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