Wednesday, May 13, 2015

EU Investigating Geo-Blocking of Video Games

On May 6th the ECC (European Competition Commission) released a new Digital Single Marketing Plan and launched an anti-trust investigation in one go. It was a lot of pages, so it took time to break down what they were getting at.

There are 2 things that the group wants to achieve with this plan. First, to establish a single European digital market so that all goods are available, equally. Second, to investigate claims of geo-blocking, and pursue action against it.

Geo-blocking is a tech barrier. It gives merchants the ability to charge more for goods and services based on geographic areas. Someone in Italy, for example, may have to pay more for an item on a French website. But that same item for a French customer would be cheaper. So what does this have to do with video games? Apparently games are the biggest offender. While many of the websites may show the publisher's price, as soon as you sign in from another country, the price fluctuates. Because no one is the wiser, people accept it and the merchants make more money.

The tricky part is that right now, technically, these sellers are not breaking any EU laws. Yet. Thus the need to investigate and see if they are breaking anti-trust rules. The EU's digital focus is to ensure the flow of information within borders, equally. The investigation will go beyond Europe's borders and may include U.S. companies as well. As of now nothing has been said regarding legal ramifications of those who may be found "guilty," but it is keeping publishers on edge.

If that is too much tech talk for the day, The Huffington Post has an op-ed regarding 'The Demise of Brick and Mortar Video Game Retailers.' I think they're looking at you, GameStop.


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