European Commission responds: If Valve decides to offer a product solely within the UK this does generally not amount to an infringement of EU competition rules

European Commission

I’ve just received a response from the European Commission (it’s weird because I did not send them an e-mail but a physical letter) and you guys are not gonna like it:

Thank you for your e-mail regarding Valve corporation.

We note that, in substance, the concerns you have raised are to do with the availability of software products in the UK only.

Whereas we appreciate that it may be in the interest of consumers in the rest of the European Union to also have access to products of the Steam Store sold in the United Kingdom, how a product is marketed is at the discretion of the vendor. If a vendor decides to offer a product solely within the UK this does generally not amount to an infringement of EU competition rules, in particular of Articles 101 and 102 of the Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).

Please be assured that market insight is a valuable input to our daily work that we appreciate.

Here is a link to the Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union.

And here is the content of Articles 101 and 102 Mr Banasevic mentioned:

Article 101

1. The following shall be prohibited as incompatible with the internal market: all agreements between undertakings, decisions by associations of undertakings and concerted practices which may affect trade between Member States and which have as their object or effect the prevention, restriction or distortion of competition within the internal market, and in particular those which:


(a) directly or indirectly fix purchase or selling prices or any other trading conditions;
(b) limit or control production, markets, technical development, or investment;
(c) share markets or sources of supply;
(d) apply dissimilar conditions to equivalent transactions with other trading parties, thereby placing them at a competitive disadvantage;
(e) make the conclusion of contracts subject to acceptance by the other parties of supplementary obligations which, by their nature or according to commercial usage, have no connection with the subject of such contracts.

2. Any agreements or decisions prohibited pursuant to this Article shall be automatically void.

3. The provisions of paragraph 1 may, however, be declared inapplicable in the case of:
— any agreement or category of agreements between undertakings,
— any decision or category of decisions by associations of undertakings,
C 83/88 Official Journal of the European Union 30.3.2010 EN— any concerted practice or category of concerted practices, which contributes to improving the production or distribution of goods or to promoting technical or economic progress, while allowing consumers a fair share of the resulting benefit, and which does not:

(a) impose on the undertakings concerned restrictions which are not indispensable to the attainment of these objectives;
(b) afford such undertakings the possibility of eliminating competition in respect of a substantial part of the products in question.

Article 102

Any abuse by one or more undertakings of a dominant position within the internal market or in a substantial part of it shall be prohibited as incompatible with the internal market in so far as it may affect trade between Member States.

Such abuse may, in particular, consist in:
(a) directly or indirectly imposing unfair purchase or selling prices or other unfair trading conditions;
(b) limiting production, markets or technical development to the prejudice of consumers;
(c) applying dissimilar conditions to equivalent transactions with other trading parties, thereby placing them at a competitive disadvantage;
(d) making the conclusion of contracts subject to acceptance by the other parties of supplementary obligations which, by their nature or according to commercial usage, have no connection with the subject of such contracts.

Screenshot of the response:

screenshot of the response

That is all. Anyone has any ideas what I could ask Mr Banasevic? Thank you for your support guys.

No votes yet.
Please wait...

stranded

I run this place! :D

This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. Kissaki

    Another big issue is not being able to activate products via a key legally optained.

    This was the case with the humble THQ bundle recently. But I guess that was in the distributors hands then, and should have pointed out that it is a non-German version!?
    Anyway, while selling products in the UK only may be legal, is blocking activation of keys provided by third parties legal? It’s a different matter after all.
    They wrote “offer a product”. I did not check the 2 paragraphs quoted above though.

    No votes yet.
    Please wait...
  2. Tommy

    It’s not only about € and GBP pricing but also about different pricing tiers within the € zone.

    there was a nice comment posted to the steam-market article:
    Daemonhell says:
    December 14, 2012 at 11:09
    “Just wanted to tell that these digital transactions are registered under “Valve S.à r.l.
    L-2450 Luxembourg (…)” and that I found disturbing that Valve is avoiding taxes that way, using the advantages of globalization while European customers are still paying higher prices than US/UK in most cases and not even having access to some other games aswell.”

    No votes yet.
    Please wait...
  3. SultS

    Their reply seems to be slightly about a different, smaller matter. It is not just about Steam selling some games only on UK store. It just as much about selling the same games on the UK store with a different price, but not letting us to access them. I can understand our petition (if it is a reply to that) may given such an impression, so perhaps we need to word it differently and try again.
    At least article 102 point (a) (directly or indirectly imposing unfair purchase or selling prices or other unfair trading conditions) does (should) apply for this.

    No votes yet.
    Please wait...
    1. stranded

      Good point, I will have to e-mail back this person and we’ll see how it goes.

      No votes yet.
      Please wait...
    2. gyokzoli

      The problem is that Valve has a different company selling the games in the UK store so we are talking about 2 companies. That’s why they don’t violate the EU rules.

      To make it simple:

      Valve Company 1 sells Game 1 only in UK for 10 GBP
      Valve Company 2 sells Game 1 only in the rest of EU for 20 EUR

      You see? There is no violation of EU rules here, since Company 1 sells the game only in UK and Company 2 sells the game only in all other EU countries.

      No votes yet.
      Please wait...
    3. stranded

      “since Company 1 sells the game only in UK”

      but that’s the point! it’s still on EU territory

      No votes yet.
      Please wait...
  4. stranded

    Alright keep them coming, I can ask a few questions I guess.

    No votes yet.
    Please wait...
  5. 0cube

    Maybe ask him if they are allowed to block non-UK credit cards to be used in the UK store? (Lets say you are on holiday *cough* proxy *cough* and try to pay with an Austrian Credit card, you cannot use it even tho your IP is british)

    No votes yet.
    Please wait...

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.