The issue revolves around the companies "geo-blocking" various games.
Click image for larger version

Name:	European Commission.jpg
Views:	3633
Size:	71.7 KB
ID:	3507967

The European Commission has fined Valve and five publishers a combined total of €7.8 million for a breaching of antitrust rules. The other publishers in question include Bandai Namco, Capcom, Focus Home Interactive, Koch Media, and ZeniMax. Valve's portion of the fine is merely €1.6 million while the rest of the €7.8 million is split up unevenly between the five publishers. The degree to which the companies were fined was dependent on how much they cooperated with the European Commission. The Commission claims that Valve did not comply with them, which is a claim that Valve denies.

Today's judgment is the result of one of three investigations that began in 2017. The findings say that these publishers "restricted cross-border sales of certain PC video games on the basis of the geographical location of users within the European Economic Area (EEA), entering into, the so called 'geo-blocking' practices." This is apparently a violation of the EU antitrust rules. The EU has a Digital Single Market regulation that has the goal of ending geo-blocking.

This essentially means that all Europeans won't have to worry about a website blocking them "because they, or their credit card, come from a different country." The problem for Valve is that they give publishers a way to control which territories they can sell their products in through Steam. Valve, through Steam, engaged in behaviors that could be considered geo-blocking throughout European countries. Specifically, there were recorded geo-blocked Steam activation keys that prevented activation of some games outside the countries of Czechia, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania between September 2010 and October 2015.

The same geo-blockings were found for the other publishers mentioned throughout the same countries from March 2007 through November 2018. The blocking focused on around 100 PC games of different genres. The geo-blocking prevented users from activating and playing PC games sold through distributors either digitally or physically.

The European Commission fined the five publishers according to how helpful they were. Capcom must have been most helpful as they earned a 15% reduction in their fine. Even still, it seems odd that Focus Home, even with a 10% reduction in their fine, still had to pay €2.9 million.

Click image for larger version

Name:	Fine Amount.jpg
Views:	170
Size:	29.7 KB
ID:	3507968

The Commission says that Valve chose not to cooperate with them.

"The Commission has therefore adopted a prohibition Decision against Valve under the ordinary antitrust procedure and has imposed a total fine of €1,624,000 on Valve."
The European Commission executive vice-president Margrethe Vestager had this to say on the judgment.

"More than 50% of all Europeans play video games. The videogame industry in Europe is thriving and it is now worth over € 17 billion. Today's sanctions against the “geo-blocking” practices of Valve and five PC video game publishers serve as a reminder that under EU competition law, companies are prohibited from contractually restricting cross-border sales. Such practices deprive European consumers of the benefits of the EU Digital Single Market and of the opportunity to shop around for the most suitable offer in the EU."
Valve says that they will appeal the decision. The company says that they have cooperated fully during the seven year investigation.

"During the seven year investigation Valve has cooperated fully, providing all requested evidence and information to the Commission. We disagree with these findings, and plan to appeal the decision."