Publishers have been cracking down on key sellers like GMG, CDKeys, GamersGate, G2A, etc by geo-blocking to keep keys from working across regional borders. If you lock the keys down to their intended regions, people in areas with higher prices won’t be able to take advantage of the lower-priced offers from places like The Czech Republic.
The EU Commission says this is not okay.
The European Commission has launched three separate investigations to assess if certain online sales practices prevent, in breach of EU antitrust rules, consumers from enjoying cross-border choice and being able to buy consumer electronics, video games and hotel accommodation at competitive prices.[/quote]
The Commission is investigating bilateral agreements concluded between Valve Corporation, owner of the Steam game distribution platform, and five PC video game publishers, Bandai Namco, Capcom, Focus Home, Koch Media and ZeniMax. The investigation concerns geo-blocking practices, where companies prevent consumers from purchasing digital content, in this case PC video games, because of the consumer’s location or country of residence.
After the purchase of certain PC video games users need to confirm that their copy of the game is not pirated to be able to play it. This is done with an “activation key” on Valve’s game distribution platform, Steam. This system is applied for a wide range of games, including sports, simulation and action games.
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). 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 is carrying out this in-depth investigation on its own initiative.[/quote]