The European Commission is targeting Bellevue, Wash.-based video game company Valve in a new antitrust probe, officials announced Thursday.
The commission is investigating an agreement by game publishers using Valve’s Steam game distribution platform that allegedly blocks consumers from purchasing video games based on where they live. In addition to Valve, publishers Bandai Namco, Capcom, Focus Home, Koch Media and ZeniMax are named in the probe.
According to EU officials, the publishers may be using an “activation key” required to purchase a game on Steam to geo-block consumers or limit their access to the game based on what region or country they’re in.
The EU investigation focuses on whether this practice breaches 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.”
Commissioners on Thursday also announced an investigation into electronic manufacturers Asus, Denon & Marantz, Philips and Pioneer. According to the commission, the companies may have violated EU competition rules by restricting online retailers from setting their own prices on products such as household appliances and laptops.
Because online retailers use pricing software to adjust prices to match competitors, the EU said the alleged behavior “may have had a broader impact on overall online prices for the respective consumer electronics products.”
Geekwire has reached out to Valve for comment, and will update this post when we hear back.