THE EU HAS VALVE and five other game publishers in its crosshairs. The commission has sent a "Statement of Objections" taking issue with measures taken to block users from activating download codes bought in different regions, where games are often cheaper.
Alongside Steam, Bandai Namco, Focus Home, Koch Media, Capcom and ZeniMax have received the note asking them to justify discriminating between EU citizens and making the single market look closer to the ‘it's complicated' market.
"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.
"Consumers should not be prevented from shopping around between Member States to find the best available deal. Valve and the five PC video game publishers now have the chance to respond to our concerns."
If unimpressed by the six companies' response, they'll be in violation of Article 101 of the Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union, which blocks anti-competitive agreements.
Of course, there are very good reasons why the companies would want to control prices across borders. The average salary in the UK is £28,677, while in Poland it's around £8,500, so it's understandable games would be cheaper there.
Like the EU copyright directive and the well-meaning but ultimately bloody stupid Articles 11 and 13, it doesn't really feel like the laws of unintended consequences have been carefully thought through. Still, cheaper games are likely to go down a lot better online than ‘no more memes.'
If the commission finds that the publishers are breaking the rules and forces change, it's not clear whether the UK will benefit or not. A lot depends on whether than April 12 Brexit Day is allowed to slip once again. µ
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