EU Commission explains pricing, availability and more

EU

I’ve just received another e-mail with further details about Valve, Steam and pricing in European Union in general. Go ahead and read it.

As I mentioned in my previous e-mail, EU competition law generally does not restrict the freedom of companies to unilaterally decide whether and what to sell in which country. There is no EU competition law rule that obliges private companies such as Valve Software to market the same range of products or services in all EU Member States.

However, an agreement between any supplier of Valve’s products with Valve not to ship to certain Member State may violate competition rules. With regard to vendors selling their products at different prices, I would note that varying prices in different geographical areas may not, per se constitute a competition problem.  Indeed different prices are the rule rather than the exception as the costs of selling, supporting, packaging and delivering will most likely differ from territory to territory.  In addition, other factors such as labour costs and local taxation will probably determine the final price in any geographical location.

Furthermore, the application of Article 102 TFEU is predicated upon an undertaking being dominant in a particular market and in this respect it requires the definition of a relevant market and proofthat Valve would be dominant in that market.

The practice of service providers (which includes online retailers) discriminating on the grounds of nationality or of country of residence is dealt with specifically by Article 20, paragraph 2 of Directive 123/2006/EC (the “Services Directive”, see: http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/services/services-dir/index_en.htm).

In this regard, discrimination by service providers on the grounds of the nationality or of the place of residence of the service recipients, is specifically forbidden by Article 20(2) of the Services Directive. However, the Directive mentions that differences in the conditions of access will be allowed “…when those differences are directly justified by objective criteria”.

Member States were required to transpose the provisions of this Directive into their own national law by 28 December 2009 and it is therefore within the remit of each national authority to apply the Directive.

 

Yours sincerely,

BANASEVIC Nicholas
Head of Unit

European Commission
DG Competition – Unit C3

Antitrust – IT, Internet and Consumer electronics
office: MADO 27/069
B-1049 Brussels/Belgium

What are you thoughts on this guys? What do we do next?

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EU Commission explains pricing, availability and more, 5.0 out of 5 based on 11 ratings
  • Spaqin

    Please, can someone explain it like I’m five?

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  • http://steamcommunity.com/id/Mu6o Mu6o

    Yeah but… There should not be any restrictions to my country, but there are… Why?

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  • Daemonhell

    @SPAGIN
    According to the EU Commission :
    - Steam pricing is not illegal.
    - Steam games being available for sell only to residents of certain countries (and not to others) is illegal.

    Also I think that
    “different prices are the rule rather than the exception as the costs of selling, supporting, packaging and delivering will most likely differ from territory to territory”
    is an irrelevant argument in our case since it’s about digital delivery.

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    • http://steamcommunity.com/id/Mu6o Mu6o

      Yeah I’m telling you. Microsoft games who use XBOX LIVE are restricted to OUR country, just because there is no SUPPORT for the games in OUR country. So…? Is this illegal?

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  • http://steamcommunity.com/profiles/76561197978408650/ FooBar1

    Basically this means the following
    EU law does not forbid companies the following:
    * What products to sell in which EU country
    * Use different prices in different countries

    Which means that Valve does not obviously violate EU law
    But…

    These might violate EU law
    1. Game producers having an agreement with Valve not to sell (a) specific game(s) in certain EU countries
    2. Using different prices when the cost of the product (e.g. labour and taxation) does not differ between EU countries
    3. Directive 2006/123/EC Art 20 explicitly forbids discrimination of recipients of products or service on the basis of nationality or place of residence if not justified by objective criteria

    Article 102 TFEU gives additional points, but in order for that article to apply it needs to be proven that Valve has a monopoly or semi-monopoly position. That will be very hard with e.g. Origin and offline stores competing with Steam.

    It seems that 2006/123/EC is our best hope. If a lawsuit is started and Valve cannot provide objective criteria for the discrimination based on nationality or place of residence they will have to stop doing it.

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  • laserad

    http://worldoftanks.eu/news/5875-tank-month-wz-131/

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    • http://www.steamunpowered.eu stranded

      haha

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  • http://steamcommunity.com/id/X-w1n9/ Xwing

    I don’t think its possible to force the same price for every EU country/tier. But…

    “However, an agreement between any supplier of Valve’s products with Valve not to ship to certain Member State may violate competition rules.”

    “The practice of service providers (which includes online retailers) discriminating on the grounds of nationality or of country of residence is dealt with specifically by Article 20, paragraph 2 of Directive 123/2006/EC (the “Services Directive”, see: http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/services/services-dir/index_en.htm).
    In this regard, discrimination by service providers on the grounds of the nationality or of the place of residence of the service recipients, is specifically forbidden by Article 20(2) of the Services Directive. However, the Directive mentions that differences in the conditions of access will be allowed “…when those differences are directly justified by objective criteria”.”

    I think it should be possible to lift local restrictions on games in STEAM store when they are not caused by local law (like Germany banning some games etc.), like no chance of me buying for example Skyrim or Rage on STEAM (Slovakia).

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    • Robert

      Skyrim can be bought from Steam from few days for polish people. Rage still not. Maybe blockade for Skyrim was released for you too?

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  • http://kcode.de Kissaki

    Interesting that the publisher can decide where to sell his product, but not tell Valve to do so. So I guess all of the limitations, which are all put in place by Valve on request of the publisher, are illegal …

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