The European Commission has launched an investigation into the gray market of activation codes on the game platform Steam. By making it difficult to activate foreign activation codes, Steam is possibly violating European antitrust laws, the European Commision announced today.
Steam made it recently impossible to activate foreign codes from certain merchants on the game platform. These merchants sell gray codes, they purchase them on a market with a low exchange rate and resell in countries with a higher exchange rate. This way a game normally sold for €50 was sold by some stores on Steam for half the price.
The European Commission argues that Steam might be interrupting the international market by blocking the activation of foreign codes and this way prevents consumers from buying cheaper games that may be available in other member states.
If Valve, the company behind Steam, is found guilty, it is violating European antitrust laws.
Besides the owner of the Steam platform, Valve, also game publishers Namco Bandai, Capcom, Focus Home, Kock Media and ZeniMax are part of the investigation.
Valve introduced ‘Region Restrictions ‘on Steam after it received reports of codes that were fraudulently obtained on the gray market. On online marketplaces also codes were traded that e.g. were stolen from game publishers.
The idea of blocking the activation of foreign codes was to make it more difficult to trade illegally obtained codes.