European Commission fines Valve Software 1.8 million euros for regional price blocking

Well here’s something I didn’t really expect to see. Few years ago European Commission launched an investigation into violation of European Union’s laws by companies like Bandai Namco, Capcom, Focus Home Interactive, Koch Media, Zenimax and of course Valve Software – the owner of Steam. The case is now over (or is it?).

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Will GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) affect Steam?

The GDPR regulation is almost here. After May 25th all companies that opearate in European Union are bound to respect the new laws and our privacy. Steam is going to need to get consent from EU individuals to obtain and store personally identifying information (like name, address, phone number, email etc). This should be performed by having a user "opt in" as under the GDPR regulations "consent cannot be assumed". From now on every single company has to communicate in a clear and understandable way why the want our data and what are they going to do with it (or won't do), how they protect it, where do they keep it etc. If you're an EU citizen here are your GDPR rights: Ask what information is held on you and obtain copies of your information Ask if your data has been passed to any other 3rd party or affiliate and obtain their details Right to be forgotten - Request that all (or some) data be removed from their system There is no guarantees that Steam will abide those rules. Most large companies and data controllers like Google or Amazon have only chosen to update their Privacy Policies, which is not…

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The European Commission will examine the legality of regional blocks on Steam

The European Commission is going to take a look at region blocks on Steam. Can we count on non-region blocked games in the future? We all do realize that regionally blocked games are cheaper in certain regions and that's OK I guess but, according to The European Commission, Valve is breaking the laws of fair trade between the European Union's countries. I think I have sent a letter to them around 2012-2013 and even did a petition (like that ever works haha... but at least they've responded and also here) but all of my letters from back in the day were basically ignored saying that Valve can do whatever they can. It seems that now they've got a lot of requests from different countries and finally decided to do something about it which is really good for us. But Steam is not all because companies like Bandai Namco, Capcom or others are also on gunpoint because they enforce those region blocks on Steam. The whole case just started but Valve is obviously going to do something about it, question is are we going to like it or not? I will keep you posted about this issue and post more about it in the future.

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Steam: Subscriber Agreement 2016 Update

On January 1st 2016 Valve updated their subscriber agreement. Here are the most important parts: Valve is now selling hardware in the European Union (the Steam Controller and Steam Link). Hardware distribution in Europe will be the primary responsibility of Luxembourg subsidiary, known as Valve SARL. Digital content and services in Europe move back under our US company, Valve Corp., just as they were before the Luxembourg office opened in July 2012. This is pretty interesting, the company claims that in practice, this changes nothing for our European customers. Valve claims to continue to operate with respect to relevant European laws, such as local data and consumer protection, and continue to provide the same services they have for years. Those who simply want to keep playing their games and are not making a purchase at this time are free to simply ignore the SSA update for now. It only takes effect for users who explicitly confirm it, usually during a new purchase. A full copy of the updated 2016 SSA is available for viewing here.

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Poll Time: Should Valve allow us to get refunds in EU?

You probably all have noticed that the Steam Subscriber Agreement has been updated to include some new rules especially when it comes to the 14 days return time in European Union. And no, you can't do that on Steam (at least according to them) but is this completely legal or fair? See this little checkbox that pops up before you purchase anything on Steam in EU: Clicking that check box means you agree to waive your right of a refund and only then will Steam let you purchase that product. Vote in our poll or leave a comment below to express yourself. You can also draw something stupid if you are angry (we all what it's gonna be..). [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent="yes" overflow="visible"][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type="1_1" background_position="left top" background_color="" border_size="" border_color="" border_style="solid" spacing="yes" background_image="" background_repeat="no-repeat" padding="" margin_top="0px" margin_bottom="0px" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_speed="0.3" animation_direction="left" hide_on_mobile="no" center_content="no" min_height="none"][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

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Refunds are coming to Steam whether Valve likes it or not!

Refunds are coming to Steam, it's not up to Valve anymore! European Union consumer rights directive is now in effect. You can request a refund for all digital sales in 14 days without questions if you live in European Union. This also means consumer protection is likely to spread across other countries like the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand. Just imagine, all the people who bought crappy games earlier could have reutrned them back - instead of being made upset. Call of Duty lied about dedicated servers, DayZ lies about being in a playable and testable state, and Colonial Marines lied about almost everything. All of those new games would have rightly suffered monetarily. This is great guys, we might have higher prices in 2015 but at least if it's shit we can give it back! Check back either on that reddit post or our site for more info soon. Have a great New Year's Eve and sorry for the lack of deals and news lately... coming back home after the weekend.

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Tripwire Interactive on Steam pricing in Europe

Here's an interesting post from Tripwire Interactive (the makers of Red Orchestra and Killing Floor series) employee: They're saying that the publiser sets the price (or the developer etc.) - that's true and we already knew that. But according to this post from the makers of Adventurer Manager it's Valve who doesn't correctly convert the price for other currencies in the first place: So basically if the developer, publisher doesn't set the price on Steam platform, for other regions than US, Steam is going to leave it at 1:1 ratio. Are you guys getting that? Alright. Why won't they change it globally so that it uses an approximate amount, not the 1:1 ratio? Is it really that hard? I guess we'll never know or they just want to make some cash. It's good that after all these years some developers are finally speaking up about the pricing system on Steam. We'll let you know more if we find out anything.

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German consumer federation goes to court war with Valve

Sorry I didn’t post this earlier but now it’s here, check this out, finally someone BIG is going after Valve, Steam and it’s subscriber agreement. Can’t wait to see how this turns out! The Federation of German Consumers Association (VZBV) has taken issue with Valve and Steam. The VZBV tried to get Valve to allow Steam customers to at least be able to sell their game licenses to other users after the Court of Justice sent down it’s decision. Steam users can’t even give away games they’ve purchased if they no longer want them in their library. The VZBV announced this week that it’s escalated its pursuit of Valve: “[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent="yes" overflow="visible"][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type="1_1" background_position="left top" background_color="" border_size="" border_color="" border_style="solid" spacing="yes" background_image="" background_repeat="no-repeat" padding="" margin_top="0px" margin_bottom="0px" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_speed="0.3" animation_direction="left" hide_on_mobile="no" center_content="no" min_height="none"][The VZBV has] submitted a complaint against the company to the district court of Berlin,” said representative Eva Hoffschulte on the group’s website. The VZBV also went into detial about what in particular it’s trying to get Valve to change. In particular, it claims that by restricting Steam users from reselling games they’ve purchased on the service, Valve is limiting the growth of the digital distribution industry as…

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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

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:

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And now we wait…

The letter to the European Commission has been sent! We have almost reached 1,000 signatures on the petition (it’s around 900 right now). I’ve changed it up a little, added few sentences about the petition and stuff like that. But if you want you can send the same letter just copy paste it from the petition page or change it slightly (we don’t want to make it spam right?) and send it to: European CommissionDirectorate-General for CompetitionFor the attention of the Antitrust Registry1049 Bruxelles/BrusselBELGIQUE/BELGIË We've received the tracking number for the letter and it should reach Brussles sometime next week. Also there's a subdomain for our petition at www.petition.steamunpowered.eu so go ahead and send it over to your friends!

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To all EU citizens: Please help us!

We are about to send a letter to the European Commission. Sending a letter. Why? At the moment I - as a citizen of Poland or for example France, Greece, Germany or any other member country - cannot buy products in the Steam Store in the shop reserved for residents of the United Kingdom (http://www.steampowered.com/?cc=uk) which is against the European Union’s directive. Here it is: Directive 97/7/EC: "Whereas the free movement of goods and services affects not only the business sector but also private individuals; whereas it means that consumers should be able to have access to the goods and services of another Member State on the same terms as the population of that State;" So basically we have the same right to buy and have access to all goods, merchandise and services as any of citizens of any EU country. Unfortunately, the Steam Store effectively takes that right away from us. We need your signatures before we send out an officiall letter to the European Commission’s Head of Unit on November 30th. How can you help? Sign our petition - we will attach the link to petition in our official letter to the Commission. Even if we won't gather enough…

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European Union: Online Dispute Resolution

The European Union is constantly trying to brake all boundaries between states and law but even now, most of the time, consumers don’t want to order things and goods from other EU countries just because they’re afraid of some kind of failure of what they’ve ordered and they simply don’t trust stores abroad when it comes to returns, warranty and other things. However, the new web platform called Online Dispute Resolution is about to be released for entire European Union. The platform should be fully working in less than two years. It’s consultants are going to speak in 23 languages, so both the consumer and entrepreneur, will be served in their native language. This should somewhat calm down people and provide them some sort of psychological comfort to transactions outside their country. The extra-judicial settlement (the whole process does not involve any court of law) of the dispute is not winning and losing, the parties are in contact and above all save a lot of their time and money and try to resolve their issue. Folks in Brussels expects that through this platform, 500 million potential customers will reach for the goods and services outside of their country, and the…

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European Union against domains being taken over by the USA

The European Parliament has adopted a resolution which criticizes domain name seizures of “infringing” websites by US authorities. According to the resolution these measures need to be countered as they endanger “the integrity of the global internet and freedom of communication.” With this stance the European Parliament joins an ever-growing list of opposition to the Stop Online Piracy Act .

Starting in 2010, US authorities have used domain name seizures as a standard tool to take down websites that are deemed to facilitate copyright infringement.

Despite fierce criticism from the public, legal experts and civil liberties groups, taking control of domain names is now one of the measures included in the pending Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), legislation designed to give copyright holders more tools to protect their rights against foreign sites.

Opposition to SOPA has been swelling in recent days, and today the European Parliament adds its voice by heavily criticizing the domain seizures that are part of it.

A resolution on the EU-US Summit that will be held later this month stresses “the need to protect the integrity of the global internet and freedom of communication by refraining from unilateral measures to revoke IP addresses or domain names.”

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