EU Antitrust Commission Opens Investigations into Asus and Valve

Zarathustra[H]

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The European Antitrust Commission announced in a press release today that they have opened three separate investigations into anti-competitive practices in e-commerce in the areas of consumer electronics, video games and hotels.

The consumer electronics investigation is looking into whether Asus, Denon & Marantz, Philips and Pioneer have violated EU competition rules by preventing retailers from setting their own prices on their products.

On the video game side the commission is looking into whether Valve, Bandai Namco, Capcom, Focus Home, Koch Media and Zenimax are using "geo-blocking" practices to control what titles users can purchase in different countries within the EU, in violation of the common market.

A lot of the time with the European Commission investigations I get the impression that they are a thinly veiled form of protectionism, as they usually only go after American and other foreign companies, but this one actually names Philips, Focus Home and Koch Media, all European businesses, so maybe it has some merit after all.

Article 101 TFEU prohibits agreements between undertakings and decisions of associations of undertakings that prevent, restrict or distort competition within the EU's Single Market.

The opening of formal proceedings does not prejudge the outcome of the investigation. It relieves the competition authorities of EU Member States of their competence to apply EU competition rules to the practices concerned.

There is no legal deadline for bringing an antitrust investigation to an end. The duration of an investigation depends on a number of factors, including the complexity of the case, the cooperation of the companies with the Commission and the exercise of the rights of defence.

The consumer electronics and video games investigations announced today are the first following up on some of the issues identified in the Commission's competition sector inquiry on e-commerce.
 

Shintai

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A lot of the time with the European Commission investigations I get the impression that they are a thinly veiled form of protectionism, as they usually only go after American and other foreign companies, but this one actually names Philips, Focus Home and Koch Media, all European businesses, so maybe it has some merit after all.

Maybe because its not so "news worthy" when an American company isn't involved.

Geo blocking/Geo pricing hurts consumers, hence its illegal. Good thing they are looking into it.
 

Zarathustra[H]

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Maybe because its not so "news worthy" when an American company isn't involved.

Geo blocking/Geo pricing hurts consumers, hence its illegal. Good thing they are looking into it.

I agree. I wish we could get away from separate launch dates in separate markets, different zone media, different titles available in Netflix depending on where you are, etc. etc. and just treat everything the same.

My feeling is that region/platform exclusives and delayed launches are one of the biggest drivers of piracy. People are willing to pay for something, they just aren't willing to wait several months for content just because they happen to be in the wrong country.
 

Shintai

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I agree. I wish we could get away from separate launch dates in separate markets, different zone media, different titles available in Netflix depending on where you are, etc. etc. and just treat everything the same.

My feeling is that region/platform exclusives and delayed launches are one of the biggest drivers of piracy. People are willing to pay for something, they just aren't willing to wait several months for content just because they happen to be in the wrong country.

Fully agree.

Netflix is a good example. Different pricing, different content, different content releases for those that are shared.
 

RogueKitsune

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Fully agree.

Netflix is a good example. Different pricing, different content, different content releases for those that are shared.

If I am not mistaken its studios that limit what Netflix can show where. This could be the same with Steam and game publishers.

But either way, I do agree that improving availability and convenience is the best way to fight piracy, and that DRM tends to only hurt the people that do things legally.
 

Teenyman45

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Fully agree.

Netflix is a good example. Different pricing, different content, different content releases for those that are shared.

Netflix has to contend with licensing issues, so as was posted above that's a studio issue. This, if being done as alleged, is market management and price manipulation. A better comparison would be how so many physical books have a USDD price, a CAD, price, and either a Pound or a Euro price which have no direct bearing on exchange rates even when sold by the same publisher which obviates licensing issues. Another example would be how Mercedes got the 25 year import ban passed in the US because it was much cheaper to buy a German made Mercedes sold in Germany and deal with all the hassles and inefficiencies of importing that single car than it was to buy an identically spec'ed car from your local dealer.
 

Rebel44

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A lot of the time with the European Commission investigations I get the impression that they are a thinly veiled form of protectionism, as they usually only go after American and other foreign companies,
.....

In that case you are not paying any attention - european companies often pay hundreds of millions € for breaking competition laws/regulations.

But unless US companies are involved US press almost never pay any atteantion to those cases.

So, I would welcome a better research from you, next time you post on this topic....
 

Stimpy88

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Recommended Retail Price was the last form of legal price fixing we had in Europe, and was made illegal many years ago, and has been replaced with basically the same thing, Suggested Retail Price, which is not illegal, but damn well should be. I find it very odd that manufacturers get away with this, but they do...

Many manufacturers now employ the tactic of not supplying products to stores or chains of stores that sell their products at discount. Sony, Apple and Samsung are the three of the biggest names that do this, but nearly all manufacturers do this now.

I hope the EU roast them for it one day.
 

krotch

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For actual physical goods, I can see the possibility of pricing differences. Some places may cost more or less to get the product onto store shelves and advertising. If I load a truck with like 10,000 Asus GPUs and move it 1000 miles in the US and another shipment 1000 miles through Europe, it's going to cost more in Europe, just because gas costs more. Although more likely than not, Asus isn't shipping anything. Company A buys products from whoever, then they deal with moving the products where they need it. So in such cases, they should be able to set their own prices.

Geo-blocking seems perfectly legit to me. Different countries, different rules what can/can't be sold. How long was it until Bioshock was finally released in Germany? Some things make no sense to me, but I never bothered looking into it. I figured it was taxing and crap. If I use the US Expedia site to book my stuff, it's cheaper than using the Germany Expedia site.

Even when it comes to things like software, I would expect pricing to be different. Many games are built in English and then, they have to spend extra for other languages. So, expecting pricing differences to reflect this. Now if the game comes with like 15 different languages, regardless of where you buy it, then it should be the same price for everyone. Bandai Namco has tons of games that are locked out of the EU, cause well...they're all in Japanese. If they're trying to hit them up over something like that, that's just stupid.

Well, we'll see what happens. I feel someone is going to lose money and the EU will do a cash grab again to put into their budget.
 

DocSavage

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Recommended Retail Price was the last form of legal price fixing we had in Europe, and was made illegal many years ago, and has been replaced with basically the same thing, Suggested Retail Price, which is not illegal, but damn well should be. I find it very odd that manufacturers get away with this, but they do...

Many manufacturers now employ the tactic of not supplying products to stores or chains of stores that sell their products at discount. Sony, Apple and Samsung are the three of the biggest names that do this, but nearly all manufacturers do this now.

I hope the EU roast them for it one day.
Bose speakers used to be like this. They were always the same price everywhere and never went on sale.
 
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