EU push to end regional limits on digital sales: “Let us do away with all those fences online”

EU

If I were to say to you that too many Europeans are diverted into nation-specific online stores without clear justification, you might well reply: “Steam, innit”. But that answer’s not good enough for the European Commission, who’ve made it their mission to tackle geo-blocking and create a Digital Single Market. If they succeed, it’s going to change the way we buy and play PC games.

The Juncker Commission is the current managing body responsible for proposing legislation and implementing decisions in the EU. Last week, the Commission publicly declared that it was determined to break down the barriers that confine digital services to national borders.

“Let us do away with all those fences and walls that block us online,” said Andrus Ansip, Vice-President for the Digital Single Market. “People must be able to freely go across borders online just as they do offline.”

One specific priority is to tackle geo-blocking: the practice of re-routing users to local stores with different prices to those seen elsewhere in the EU. It’s familiar to anybody who habitually buys videogames on the internet – but the Commission insists that “such discrimination cannot exist in a Single Market”.

Will they succeed? Gosh, who knows. But companies like Valve are under increasing pressure from government and consumer groups to rethink their most stringent rules – like those preventing the resale of Steam games or Steam refunds.

As it stands, Batman: Arkham Knight will be released digitally-only in the UK. Does this sort of thing bother you?