Imagine buying a PC game, and then finding out you couldn’t activate your copy because you lived in the wrong country.
It’s a headache that Valve’s Steam has been causing for PC gamers in Europe, according to government regulators. So on Wednesday, the European Commission imposed a $1.9 million fine against Valve, claiming the company breached local antitrust rules.
According to the commission, Valve and five other game developers engaged in “geo-blocking” from 2007 to 2018, which can prevent a digital PC game from being activated depending on the country in which the consumer resides. The games were sold to European users via Steam activation keys. However, the developers —including Capcom, Bandai Namco, and ZeniMax— had set up agreements with Valve to block the activation keys if they were triggered in countries including Czechia, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.