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Valve are in the legal spotlight again following the EU Commission Fine with a few more Steam troubles, as a new lawsuit has emerged with a claim about an "abuse" of their market power.

First picked up by the Hollywood Reporter, which has the full document showing the lawsuit was filed on January 28, was filed by 5 people together and doesn't appear to have any major companies backing it. The suit mentions how Valve require developers to sign an agreement that contains a "Most Favored Nations" provision to have developers keep the price of their games the same on Steam as other platforms. To be clear, they're talking about the Steam Distribution Agreement which isn't public and not what we can all see in the Steamworks documentation which talks about keys.

This means (if the claim is actually true) that developers cannot have their game on itch, GOG, Humble or anywhere else at a lower price, and so the lawsuit claims that other platforms are unable to compete on pricing "thereby insulating the Steam platform from competition" and that it "acts as an artificial barrier to entry by potential rival platforms and as higher prices lead to less sales of PC Games".

As part of the lawsuit it also names CD Projekt, Ubisoft, Devolver Digital and others.

It argues that if developers could legitimately set their own prices across different stores, they could lower their prices on stores that take a lower cut and "generate the same or even greater revenue per game as a result of the lower commissions, while lowering prices to consumers". They even directly bring up posts on Twitter from the Epic Games CEO, Tim Sweeney, like this one from 2019:

Steam has veto power over prices, so if a multi-store developer wishes to sell their game for a lower price on the Epic Games store than Steam, then: 1) Valve can simply say “no” 2) Pricing disparity would likely anger Steam users, leading to review bombing, etc

What are your thoughts on this? Should Valve be forced to allow developers to set their own prices, and not require their price to be the same as other stores?

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
Tags: Misc, Steam, Valve
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134 comments
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TheSHEEEP 8 Feb
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Quoting: x_wingHow do you know that? If I have to guess, Epic is losing money right now. For each free copy they give they are probably forced to pay a fee to the publisher. Not to mention that the temporal exclusives aren't cheap. This strategies aren't new in the gaming market, many new comers always worked at loss in the first years.
You are mixing different points here. We're talking about the store cut of 12%. With that low cut, Epic still nets a profit:
https://twitter.com/TimSweeneyEpic/status/1120441795010338816

Of course, if you also take all the other measures into account - the exclusivity deals and the free games - then yeah, I'm fully with you they most likely run at a net loss right now.
But those other growth measures are not the topic of discussion here.

Quoting: x_wing"Wrong, again." There is now way you can get any number out of this as Valve isn't a public company. Unless you're Valve's accountant or a shareholder of Valve, this number are pure speculation (not to mention that you don't evaluate costs).
I did list some of the numbers you CAN get despite Valve not being a public company. It isn't totally precise, but there's no way it is entirely off, either. If you wanna do the math, be my guest. I did that ~2 years ago when EGS first entered the picture and it turned out that Epic is very much right on this one.
And the last two years only saw more growth and profit for Valve, so I don't see any reason to assume much has changed in this regard.

Quoting: x_wingRegarding "People have been bringing the same points against the 30%" I probably should ask by whom? Before Epic drama, I never heard a complain about that cut (at least not for Steam).
Is this the part where you pretend something didn't happen because you didn't see it happen?
Honestly, just set your search engine to present you results from before 2017 or so and look for discussions about the store owner cut. You'll find quite a few, and absolutely not only about Steam, but also about mobile app stores, consoles, etc.

Your claim was that Epic "created" this narrative in some kind of FUD approach. And that is just provably false.
What Epic did was bring this to way more people's attention, which is a service in itself and if that discussion is the only thing that remains of Epic's efforts, it'll still be at least something good.
Now, did they push this point in an attempt to discredit others and get people on their store? Probably. I couldn't care less about intentions. I care about results.

Quoting: x_wingYou're really an arrogant person. You imply that I don't bring any valid argument and I have no idea of what I'm talking about when you keep creating numbers from nowhere in order to justify what could be the right fee of a Store.
Knowledge is often mistaken for arrogance by those who don't possess it, especially if it isn't sugarcoated, so I'll take that compliment, thank you.

Just because you don't understand where the numbers are coming from, doesn't mean I created them out of thin air. I think I dropped enough keywords by now for anyone to do their own research and I am under no obligation to hand you my own research and do the thinking for you. Nor do I care if you believe me or not, so I'm really not willing to go that extra mile.

Quoting: x_wingNot to mention that you try to show some advantages of fee reduction for customer when many showed you that Epic didn't bring any advantage for us.
Seriously doubt that I ever made such an attempt. I said that some developers might decide to lower their prices due to the lower cut, but most won't.
So for customers, not much of an improvement.

But honestly, customers are cared for pretty well already. Games are cheap, too cheap IMO but that's a different topic altogether. It's the indie/small devs that struggle the most, and that is my perspective, too, so that's what I'm most concerned about.

Quoting: kuhpunktHow do you know that they already offer lower cuts to large publishers/developers?
https://www.theverge.com/2018/11/30/18120577/valve-steam-game-marketplace-revenue-split-new-rules-competition
Just as the most recent example. That isn't specific to large devs, of course, but I hope you can see how that benefits those the most.
The deals between Steam and large publishers beyond that are more of an open secret, but you won't find many articles about it. Contracts not being disclosed and all that.

Quoting: kuhpunktgog broke down their costs running the store any say said that running their store costs about 20% and 10% is actual profit for them.
If that is true - and I have my doubt here - it would tell you two things:
1.) They suck at running at their business. Epic can run their store at about 5-8% and the rest is profit, but GOG requires three times that much? Something is very wrong here.
2.) 10% profit is already absolutely crazy as any investor will gladly tell you. Do you know how much profit normal, non-digital stores (e.g. supermarkets, electronic markets, etc.) make from products they sell? 1-3%.

But honestly, I think this might just be throwing different things together, not all actually related to the store itself. Or their sales numbers are much lower than I ever expected.

Quoting: kuhpunktHow do you know it's a way too big cut? What cut would be appropriate?
My suggestion would be to not have one-cut-fits-all, but a minimal cut, say 10-15%.
And then developers can add packages on top. Want a forum with it? +1%. Want multiplayer servers/matchmaking, etc.?+1-4% Other stuff? +1% each.
You get the idea.
This might actually end up with something close to 30% in the end for the premium package, but it's a fact that most developers don't even need half the services Steam supposedly takes such a large chunk for.
kuhpunkt 8 Feb
Quoting: TheSHEEEP
Quoting: kuhpunktHow do you know that they already offer lower cuts to large publishers/developers?
https://www.theverge.com/2018/11/30/18120577/valve-steam-game-marketplace-revenue-split-new-rules-competition
Just as the most recent example. That isn't specific to large devs, of course, but I hope you can see how that benefits those the most.

That is not what you claimed. You said that Valve makes deals with big publishers so that the 20/25/30% cut rule doesn't apply. This applies to everybody.

Quoting: TheSHEEEPThe deals between Steam and large publishers beyond that are more of an open secret, but you won't find many articles about it. Contracts not being disclosed and all that.

So you make baseless claims and just say that this is an open secret. Who does this apply to? Why doesn't this apply to CD Projekt Red, a big money maker for Steam?

Quoting: TheSHEEEP
Quoting: kuhpunktgog broke down their costs running the store any say said that running their store costs about 20% and 10% is actual profit for them.
If that is true - and I have my doubt here - it would tell you two things:
1.) They suck at running at their business. Epic can run their store at about 5-8% and the rest is profit, but GOG requires three times that much? Something is very wrong here.
2.) 10% profit is already absolutely crazy as any investor will gladly tell you. Do you know how much profit normal, non-digital stores (e.g. supermarkets, electronic markets, etc.) make from products they sell? 1-3%.

It's what they said. You don't know if Epic can run their store at 5-8%... you have no insight into the costs.

Quoting: TheSHEEEPBut honestly, I think this might just be throwing different things together, not all actually related to the store itself. Or their sales numbers are much lower than I ever expected.

Of course they sell much less than Steam, but that's at least still some actual data.

Quoting: kuhpunktHow do you know it's a way too big cut? What cut would be appropriate?
My suggestion would be to not have one-cut-fits-all, but a minimal cut, say 10-15%.
And then developers can add packages on top. Want a forum with it? +1%. Want multiplayer servers/matchmaking, etc.?+1-4% Other stuff? +1% each.
You get the idea.
This might actually end up with something close to 30% in the end for the premium package, but it's a fact that most developers don't even need half the services Steam supposedly takes such a large chunk for.[/quote]
That's not what I asked.
TheSHEEEP 8 Feb
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Quoting: kuhpunktThat is not what you claimed. You said that Valve makes deals with big publishers so that the 20/25/30% cut rule doesn't apply. This applies to everybody.
So you do not see how this is just a veiled deal with all big publishers as those are the only ones (bar a few indie successes maybe?) who can even fulfill it?
The goal with this was - and it was successful, too - to get big publishers to come back to Steam instead of running their own exclusive stores which they started doing prior to this. There was this period of a year or so (not entirely sure how long it was) where for example EA did not release anything big on Steam.

Quoting: kuhpunktSo you make baseless claims and just say that this is an open secret.
It is very obvious from this comment and most of your others that you do not work in the industry or even close to it.
I cannot show you any definite proof of this as that would be a rather stupid thing to do in my position and some of the people I work with.
Believe me or not - it's your choice, but I think we all know you're going to go with the choice that fits into your narrative.

Quoting: kuhpunktWho does this apply to? Why doesn't this apply to CD Projekt Red, a big money maker for Steam?
Hmmm... why would Valve not cut deals with their direct competitors at GOG?
Yeah, no idea. It is a mystery of which only the brightest detectives would be worthy.

Quoting: kuhpunktIt's what they said. You don't know if Epic can run their store at 5-8%... you have no insight into the costs.
Quoting: kuhpunktOf course they sell much less than Steam, but that's at least still some actual data.
Ah, so if Epic (well, the person who runs it, anyway) gives you some numbers, that must be a lie.
But if GOG gives you some numbers, that must be true.
I truly hope that you can see the problem in your perception here.

Quoting: kuhpunkt
Quoting: kuhpunktHow do you know it's a way too big cut? What cut would be appropriate?
Quoting: thesheeepMy suggestion would be to not have one-cut-fits-all, but a minimal cut, say 10-15%.
And then developers can add packages on top. Want a forum with it? +1%. Want multiplayer servers/matchmaking, etc.?+1-4% Other stuff? +1% each.
You get the idea.
This might actually end up with something close to 30% in the end for the premium package, but it's a fact that most developers don't even need half the services Steam supposedly takes such a large chunk for.
That's not what I asked.
You asked what cut would be appropriate. How my answer is not what you asked remains your secret so far.
You also asked how I know it's a way too big cut - I already answered that, multiple times over. You just chose to either ignore it or not believe me. Not much more I can do for you there. I'm not in the habit of repeating myself.


Last edited by TheSHEEEP on 8 February 2021 at 10:33 am UTC
kuhpunkt 8 Feb
Quoting: TheSHEEEP
Quoting: kuhpunktThat is not what you claimed. You said that Valve makes deals with big publishers so that the 20/25/30% cut rule doesn't apply. This applies to everybody.
So you do not see how this is just a veiled deal with all big publishers as those are the only ones (bar a few indie successes maybe?) who can even fulfill it?
The goal with this was - and it was successful, too - to get big publishers to come back to Steam instead of running their own exclusive stores which they started doing prior to this. There was this period of a year or so (not entirely sure how long it was) where for example EA did not release anything big on Steam.

This is not the argument you made. You are disingenuous.

Quoting: TheSHEEEP
Quoting: kuhpunktSo you make baseless claims and just say that this is an open secret.
It is very obvious from this comment and most of your others that you do not work in the industry or even close to it.
I cannot show you any definite proof of this as that would be a rather stupid thing to do in my position and some of the people I work with.
Believe me or not - it's your choice, but I think we all know you're going to go with the choice that fits into your narrative.

So you can't offer any proof. And I'm the one who has a narrative?

Quoting: TheSHEEEP
Quoting: kuhpunktWho does this apply to? Why doesn't this apply to CD Projekt Red, a big money maker for Steam?
Hmmm... why would Valve not cut deals with their direct competitors at GOG?
Yeah, no idea. It is a mystery of which only the brightest detectives would be worthy.

That's no argument. gog is barely a direct competitor and why would that play a role?

Quoting: TheSHEEEP
Quoting: kuhpunktIt's what they said. You don't know if Epic can run their store at 5-8%... you have no insight into the costs.
Quoting: kuhpunktOf course they sell much less than Steam, but that's at least still some actual data.
Ah, so if Epic (well, the person who runs it, anyway) gives you some numbers, that must be a lie.
But if GOG gives you some numbers, that must be true.
I truly hope that you can see the problem in your perception here.

I didn't say it was a lie. And I'm the one with a problem in my perception?

Quoting: TheSHEEEP
Quoting: kuhpunkt
Quoting: kuhpunktHow do you know it's a way too big cut? What cut would be appropriate?
Quoting: thesheeepMy suggestion would be to not have one-cut-fits-all, but a minimal cut, say 10-15%.
And then developers can add packages on top. Want a forum with it? +1%. Want multiplayer servers/matchmaking, etc.?+1-4% Other stuff? +1% each.
You get the idea.
This might actually end up with something close to 30% in the end for the premium package, but it's a fact that most developers don't even need half the services Steam supposedly takes such a large chunk for.
That's not what I asked.
You asked what cut would be appropriate. How my answer is not what you asked remains your secret so far.
You also asked how I know it's a way too big cut - I already answered that, multiple times over. You just chose to either ignore it or not believe me. Not much more I can do for you there. I'm not in the habit of repeating myself.

Yes, I asked what would be appropriate and you didn't offer a proper answer. You threw out a random number without a reason. I could just do the same and say that Steam deserves 49% and keep the explanation to myself. That wouldn't help either.


Last edited by kuhpunkt on 8 February 2021 at 12:02 pm UTC
TheSHEEEP 8 Feb
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Quoting: kuhpunktThis is not the argument you made. You are disingenuous.
My argument was that Steam already offers lower cuts to big publishers - which it does, publicly visible to anyone via that 30/25/20 system.
That this theoretically counts for everyone is besides the point as only the big ones can even make use of it.

My argument was also that Steam had specific deals with big publishers that are not disclosed to the public.
Which is, as I said, an open secret in the industry.

Now, what I don't know for certain is if both are active at the same time for how many publishers. I'm not THAT close to the source anymore.
That staggered system is relatively new (2018) and it might have replaced some of the older deals with big publishers.

Quoting: kuhpunktSo you can't offer any proof. And I'm the one who has a narrative?
I don't have a narrative - I don't care about painting Valve in any light - positive or negative. As I said, I am neutral.
I only have what I know due to what I've seen from working close to the industry as well as my own knowledge about digital infrastructures and its cost, which is the truth.
If you believe it or not is - as I said - up to you.
But if all you're going to parrot from now on is just "I don't believe you", you should probably not bother as I think that much has become clear from your side.

Quoting: kuhpunktI didn't say it was a lie. And I'm the one with a problem in my perception?
Please tell me how else you could interpret this:
Quote(About the Epic numbers)You don't know if Epic can run their store at 5-8%... you have no insight into the costs.
(About the GOG numbers)Of course they sell much less than Steam, but that's at least still some actual data.
To me that sounds as if the Epic numbers are not "actual" data to you i.e. they are a lie.
And btw: I don't need to have insights into Epic's costs if they are nice enough to give me these numbers on Twitter of all places.

Quoting: kuhpunktYes, I asked what would be appropriate and you didn't offer a proper answer. You threw out a random number without a reason. I could just do the same and say that Steam deserves 49% and keep the explanation to myself. That wouldn't help either.
I answered the question "What cut would be appropriate?". The answer to that question is a number. I gave you a number and an idea for a calculation of it with what I think would be appropriate.
My hint for future discussions for you: Be precise. Don't expect people to read your mind. My telepathy only works within 3m eyesight.

If you really wanted to get a full calculation of WHY exactly that cut is appropriate (which is not the question that you asked): I already anwered that.
Do the math yourself, all the numbers are out there in good enough estimations (partly very precise) to end up with something in a +/- 5% range.
I'm not here to be your convenience business and maths consultant and what you're asking is a full approximate rundown of maintaining a storefront like Steam. The last time I did this calculation (about two years ago, as I said), it took almost a day - and yes, I should have saved it but didn't. Trust me, I begin to regret that right now.
But that doesn't mean I'll do it again just to convince some random users on a website.


Last edited by TheSHEEEP on 8 February 2021 at 1:01 pm UTC
kuhpunkt 8 Feb
Quoting: TheSHEEEPMy argument was that Steam already offers lower cuts to big publishers - which it does, publicly visible to anyone via that 30/25/20 system.
That this theoretically counts for everyone is besides the point as only the big ones can even make use of it.

It doesn't THEORETICALLY count for everyone. It counts practically for everyone. That only big ones can make use of it, is a) not true and b) not relevant.

Quoting: TheSHEEEPMy argument was also that Steam had specific deals with big publishers that are not disclosed to the public.
Which is, as I said, an open secret in the industry.

You repeat that over and over again with no proof. If those deals were in place, why did so many big publishers leave and create their own stores? Why is there no proof? Stuff leaks all the time. Why would/should Valve make such deals in the first place?

Quoting: TheSHEEEPI don't have a narrative - I don't care about painting Valve in any light - positive or negative. As I said, I am neutral.

Calling others fanboys in this thread here for bringing up simple facts... that's neutral, yeah.

Quoting: TheSHEEEPPlease tell me how else you could interpret this:
Quote(About the Epic numbers)You don't know if Epic can run their store at 5-8%... you have no insight into the costs.
(About the GOG numbers)Of course they sell much less than Steam, but that's at least still some actual data.
To me that sounds as if the Epic numbers are not "actual" data to you i.e. they are a lie.
And btw: I don't need to have insights into Epic's costs if they are nice enough to give me these numbers on Twitter of all places.

There is no need for interpretation. I said what I meant. You don't know the costs for running a store like Steam or EGS or gog.

Quoting: TheSHEEEPDo the math yourself, all the numbers are out there in good enough estimations (partly very precise) to end up with something in a +/- 5% range.

I can't do the math, because I have no insight about the costs and what all the factors are.
TheSHEEEP 8 Feb
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Quoting: kuhpunktIt doesn't THEORETICALLY count for everyone. It counts practically for everyone.
True, definitely used that word wrong.

Quoting: kuhpunktThat only big ones can make use of it, is a) not true and b) not relevant.
A) Please point me towards all those indie devs that benefited from that in earning more than 10 million USD or then 50 million... I wonder if that'll even let you count to 10.
B) So a measure that lowers (with maybe a handful of exceptions) only big publishers' cuts is not relevant in an argument about how big publishers already have lower cuts on Steam, proving that Steam can in fact afford to lower the cut? Okay...

Quoting: kuhpunktCalling others fanboys in this thread here for bringing up simple facts... that's neutral, yeah.
Calling a fanboy a fanboy is neutral in itself, it's not like they are hard to identify. You need only look at the extremes they go to try and push back any and all points being made against their darling.
Just like calling a dog a dog or an apple an apple.

Quoting: kuhpunktI can't do the math, because I have no insight about the costs and what all the factors are.
You could, though. It can all be approximated well enough by numbers publicly available, especially because Steam is so large, you'll end up with so high numbers that a few million here and there simply won't make much of a dent.
Average wages in the industry & location, prices on Steam, the cut, user numbers, employee numbers, stats from games themselves, hosting costs, taxes, etc. It's a lot, but it's not rocket science. You'll have a low and a high end when you input lower/higher approximations and in the end you'll know you are getting there when you end up with numbers that make sense.
That's what I did and ended up in the same ballpark as Epic's numbers. Higher, actually, 10-20%.

You might be too lazy to do it - and I'm fully with you on that one, so am I! Once was enough.
But don't claim you can't do something that you could indeed do.


Last edited by TheSHEEEP on 8 February 2021 at 1:55 pm UTC
x_wing 8 Feb
Quoting: TheSHEEEPYou are mixing different points here. We're talking about the store cut of 12%. With that low cut, Epic still nets a profit:
https://twitter.com/TimSweeneyEpic/status/1120441795010338816

Of course, if you also take all the other measures into account - the exclusivity deals and the free games - then yeah, I'm fully with you they most likely run at a net loss right now.
But those other growth measures are not the topic of discussion here.

Steam features are definitely part of the Store and definitely something that adds as infrastructure cost (you agree with this in your estimations). Whatever estimation Sweeney provides will probably be far from the reality by the simple fact that if they want to compete they must provide similar features, not to mention that the cash flow of their store is still low. So, if you consider that your cost estimations are correct you will agree with me that this type of statements are BS (once again, FUD against Steam).

IMO, Epic is leveraging their position in the market with external investments, whatever they say will mostly end up being propaganda as I'm sure that if we get a balance sheet of EGS we will definitely see a shit-show in those numbers.

Quoting: TheSHEEEPIs this the part where you pretend something didn't happen because you didn't see it happen?
Honestly, just set your search engine to present you results from before 2017 or so and look for discussions about the store owner cut. You'll find quite a few, and absolutely not only about Steam, but also about mobile app stores, consoles, etc.

Your claim was that Epic "created" this narrative in some kind of FUD approach. And that is just provably false.
What Epic did was bring this to way more people's attention, which is a service in itself and if that discussion is the only thing that remains of Epic's efforts, it'll still be at least something good.
Now, did they push this point in an attempt to discredit others and get people on their store? Probably. I couldn't care less about intentions. I care about results.

What I pretend is to know who are those that were "mad" against Steam fee before the Epic store release and all the drama they created (I would love to see game devs complains posted before 2017), which is what implied before. And BTW, my problem with your statement is that you used the news media cliche of "people says...". So, if want to bring up something that others mentioned, just name them.

And regarding the FUD, take this lawsuit as example. As was mentioned before, it was presented by users and not developers. Suspicious, doesn't it?

Quoting: TheSHEEEPKnowledge is often mistaken for arrogance by those who don't possess it, especially if it isn't sugarcoated, so I'll take that compliment, thank you.

Just because you don't understand where the numbers are coming from, doesn't mean I created them out of thin air. I think I dropped enough keywords by now for anyone to do their own research and I am under no obligation to hand you my own research and do the thinking for you. Nor do I care if you believe me or not, so I'm really not willing to go that extra mile.

An arrogant person will always think that they understand something when they don't. Keep that in mind.

Anyway, fortunately you did your research and hopefully, someone will believe on it.


Last edited by x_wing on 8 February 2021 at 11:49 pm UTC
Grazen 30 Mar
Quoting: Purple Library GuyHuh. Well, I guess if the allegation is true, that Valve's secret contracts involve making developers not sell their games cheaper anywhere else as a condition of being able to sell on Steam, that's kind of anti-competitive in that it stops other stores from trying to gain market share by underselling Steam. And if you foreclose on the whole concept of competition on price, that's likely to be bad for consumers.

Given the high hurdles in US antitrust law, even if the allegation is true that might well not be enough for Valve to actually lose the lawsuit, as noted by EagleDelta etc. But it's still a practice I'd find somewhat annoying--sure, you can understand why they'd want to do it, but then it's easy to understand why any company would do any anti-competitive practice . . . no company wants to be successfully competed against.

Of course if it ain't true then the filers are just assholes. And whether it's true or not, the filers could have questionable motivations and backing.

Anti-competitive means there needs to be harm to consumers (that's a brief legal description) not to competitors. Steam requiring that you keep prices LOWER so that their customers can benefit from LOWER PRICES on other platforms is a plus for consumers. I know it's a plus for me. It means that when I see a sale for a game on another platform, I can go to my platform of choice to get the same price. I win. That's a good thing.
tuubi 30 Mar
Quoting: Grazen
Quoting: Purple Library GuyHuh. Well, I guess if the allegation is true, that Valve's secret contracts involve making developers not sell their games cheaper anywhere else as a condition of being able to sell on Steam, that's kind of anti-competitive in that it stops other stores from trying to gain market share by underselling Steam. And if you foreclose on the whole concept of competition on price, that's likely to be bad for consumers.

Given the high hurdles in US antitrust law, even if the allegation is true that might well not be enough for Valve to actually lose the lawsuit, as noted by EagleDelta etc. But it's still a practice I'd find somewhat annoying--sure, you can understand why they'd want to do it, but then it's easy to understand why any company would do any anti-competitive practice . . . no company wants to be successfully competed against.

Of course if it ain't true then the filers are just assholes. And whether it's true or not, the filers could have questionable motivations and backing.

Anti-competitive means there needs to be harm to consumers (that's a brief legal description) not to competitors.
Quoting: Merriam-WebsterAnti-competitive: 'tending to reduce or discourage competition'
Anti-consumer: 'not favorable to consumers : improperly favoring the interests of businesses over the interests of consumers'

I think he used the term correctly, and you might be mixing up the two terms.
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