The FPB wants Steam to pay up to R3.17 million to sell games in South Africa

2 min read



Valve’s Steam Store is the de facto games distribution service for PC games the world over. As such, it has an extensive library of games listed on its digital storefront.

And, if the FPB has its way, Steam will have to pay then a fee for every single game that it lists for sale. South Africa’s Film and Publication’s Board is responsible for the classification of most media in South Africa, including films, TV shows, printed works and yes, video games. Their heavy hand is used to classify material with an age rating, ostensibly to protect children from online pornography – though it does veer heavily onto Nanny State censorship.

According to MyBroadband, the FPB will soon demand that Steam (and other similar services) pays for the privilege of selling digital goods in South Africa. This is beyond the licencing and certification hassles that local distributors of many of these games already go through to make sure that games are certified for sale in South Africa. And they’ll have to pay on a per title basis.

Based on the FPB’s draft bill and MyBroadband’s maths, Valve could have to pay as much as R3.17 million to the FPB annually – at R165.96 per game. That fee buys them the right to self-classifiy and distribute games in South Africa. But that’s not all, they’ll also get training. Hooray.

“We will also provide training for their classifiers on a quarterly basis, and when needed,” said the FPB to Mybroadband.

If anything, heavy-handed licensing and certification like this will only serve to stunt growth in our emerging market, and it’s easy to imagine companies like Valve and Netflix pull out of the region. That said, it’ll be hard to see how they intend to enforce this.

Read  Star Control’s future may be in jeopardy because of legal squabbling

Last Updated: October 11, 2017

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I’m old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time – they were capable of being masterpieces. I’m here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

  • FPB plans.

    Step 1: Send empty unenforcable threat
    Step 2:?????
    Step 3: Profit.

    • Captain JJ

      It’s the South African way!

  • Make like Netflix and give them the finger… or two fingers for a second opinion.

  • Do they realise how bad this idea is? They already tax them. Is that not enough?

    I’m sorry but this would be disastrous for the industry. IT could even destroy any revenue the country is getting from said digital sale taxes.
    Bad, bad idea.

    How to shoot yourself in the foot for dummies
    Written by the FPB

    • Alien Emperor Trevor

      Rated PG-13 for violence and irredeemable stupidity

      • Wait till they meet my rants. They’d have to ban me.

  • “If anything, heavy-handed licensing and certification like this will only serve to stunt growth in our emerging market, and it’s easy to imagine companies like Valve and Netflix pull out of the region.”

    You want pirates. Cause this is how you get pirates.

    • VampyreSquirrel

      I’ll pirate and donate the amount to the devs.

      • Captain JJ

        Not a bad idea

  • Jacques Van Zyl

    What the hell FPB? A lot of the titles on Steam sell for less than the estimated fee of R165 per game, excluding Steam sales. Ugh, this seems like a dumb move from people trying to cash in on a market they don’t have any real control over.

    • Per title, not per actual sold game. So once off R165 to sell that game.


      Still a dumb idea

      • Alien Emperor Trevor

        per annum.

        • Yes per annum.

          3.17 mil per year. Actually that would go up as the library of steam games grow really fast thanks to the indie scene and all the big titles released each month.

          So that fee will grow year on year. Plus your yearly inflation increase and it’s going to get out of hand and unfeasible for Steam real quick.

      • Jacques Van Zyl

        Even per title this just smacks of greed in my eyes.

  • Magoo

    Shit man. Is there not one single place in this world where someone isn’t sticking their irrelevant freaking nose into it trying to look for a profit.

    • MonsterCheddar


    • Alien Emperor Trevor

      You’re in luck, there is! Trevor’s Profit-Free Retreat will guarantee you a quiet place free from the stress, for only R5/m.

      • Magoo

        I’ll take the season pass!

      • MonsterCheddar

        AKA Cypress Resort for the Elderly.

    • Trump recently spoke of an African country that is quit well off. It is called Nambia. I want to immigrate to there but so far google maps can’t find it.

  • MonsterCheddar
  • This has been on the cards for years. Steam/Origin/UPlay are technically breaking the law not having done this for years.

    However it’s still stupid and legal blackmail in my mind.

    Valve can either decide to ignore them and risk lawsuits or pull support for South Africa as a region.. which do you think they’ll do since there is no chance on this planet that they’ll pay

    • Probably pull out. I am sure the profits in the SA don’t amount to enough to validate paying a fee that will just increase each year for annual increases on licencing as well as a ever growing library.

      SA isn’t a big enough market

      • give the man a cookie, Our local market is far too tiny to justify it and they also know the hardcore guys will VPN around and continue buying. Doesn’t make sense to stay in the region

        • Pretty much. Guess it’s time to sign for a nice VPN somewhere.

      • Jacques Van Zyl

        One of the problems with them pulling out of the region is that game prices for us would then inflate as well and be ever more dependent on the exchange rate, which already screw us over big time.

        • That’s our problem though and as much as Steam tries to be the good guy, they aren’t going to take a financial knock for us.

          It’s terrible and I am not looking forward to that, but sadly it is what it is and we can only hope this does not happen

      • Magoo

        But would that be the end of it? If Valve says “Ok bye” then I’m sure the FDA would rethink their approach.

      • Matthew Holliday

        Market size was my first thought aswell.
        Once you split the population into gamers, then split by platform and filter out those that only play cs:go and dota 2, theyll be lucky to make anything close to 3 million…

        • Even with those who only play CS:GO and Dota2, I bet the numbers wouldn’t justify. Console is a much easier platform to get in to in SA, especially with hardware prices as they are. But yes, very bleak outlook here

  • Jackie

    “We dont support Piracy, its wrong” bla bla blah “Piracy hurting the game industry” “Do it legal” …

    Well here you go, enjoy <3 Facedesk*

  • Original Heretic

    This is right up there with wanting to charge people for a TV license for tablets and laptops.

  • Craig “CrAiGiSh” Dodd

    Taxing of air consumption is now just around the corner … jassas.

  • Mark Treloar

    I guess that depends on the revenue Valve makes off of SA

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