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Europe busts Nintendo for keeping game prices high

Nintendo for antitrust? Makes a change...

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Console outfit Nintendo broke European antitrust laws, and an announcement of the level of fine is possible by next week, according to today's Wall Street Journal. Nintendo's sin, says the Journal, was obstructing cross-border sales, thus allowing it to keep prices high, and keep a frim grip on its distribution channel.

Depending on the attitude the European Commission takes, this could be ominous for other console makers. You'll recall that last week Steve Ballmer was complaining about how Australian legislation was obstructing Microsoft's ability to make a fast - er, honest) buck with Xbox.

Specifically, he was talking about the court ruling which effectively allowed the chipping of consoles in order to get around regionalisation, and regionalisation is the manufacturer's practice which allows them to stop their machines playing out of region software. Which helps them restrict cross-border sales, and keep prices high.

Apparently Australian and New Zealand legislation already makes it illegal for companies to restrict the parallel importation of their products, and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is poised to take action against DVD regionalisation. So if other places, including Europe, follow the lead, Steve Ballmer could find himself threatening to stop selling Xbox virtually everywhere... ®

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