Valve is an American video game developer that started in 1996. Since then, the company expanded into the marketing and sales of video games. This led to the development of Steam, an online platform that sells games. It soon became the gaming world's largest video game distributor. Some famous titles developed by Valve are Counter Strike, DOTA 2 and Left 4 Dead. In the beginning, Valve had favourable reception from the gaming community but later on some gamers became frustrated with the company.
So, it comes as no shock to many in the gaming community that Valve is under scrutiny from the European Union Commission. Valve and several other companies such as Bandai Namco, Capcom, Focus Home, Koch Media and Zenimax are being investigated on suspicions of "Geo-Blocking". Geo-Blocking is the process of restricting a person's access to any content of the company, in this case video games, based on the person's location.
The European Union Commission wants to know if there are anti-competitive practices in the agreements between Valve and all the mentioned companies, which are in violation of EU competition rules. Apparently, the main concern of the commission revolves around Activation Keys for games developed by the different gaming companies.
In an article by COG News, the Activation Key's purpose is to activate a game and to prove that a person owns a copy of the game. However, these Activation Keys can only be used at the place or country of purchase and this allegedly violates competition rules according to the European Union Commission.
Eurogamer further explains that if a person buys a game from a member country under the European Union, that person may not be able to activate the game in another member country because of the presence of an Activation Key. This would run contrary to the parallel trade agreement in the European Union as it limits the choices of consumers.
No timeline has been set as to when the investigation will end because there are a lot of factors in play. However, if the investigation concludes that there are indeed violation of the rules, the European Union might impose sanctions.