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Here we go again, yet another lawsuit has been filed against Steam developer Valve Software over an alleged abuse of their market position with their 30% cut. This time around it's a noted developer, Wolfire Games (Overgrowth, Receiver), along with two individuals William Herbert and Daniel Escobar "on behalf of all others similarly situated".

According to the documents, the argument is similar to one we've heard before. They're claiming that of the huge market that PC gaming is, "75% flow through the online storefront of a single company, Valve" and that "Valve uses that dominance to take an extraordinarily high cut from nearly every sale that passes through its store—30%" which results in "higher prices and less innovation" and that Valve can do this because of their market position so developers "have no choice but to sell most of their games through the Steam Store, where they are subject to Valve’s 30% toll".

One of the cited people is former Valve developer Richard Geldreich, who famously tweeted:

Steam was killing PC gaming. It was a 30% tax on an entire industry. It was unsustainable. You have no idea how profitable Steam was for Valve. It was a virtual printing press. It distorted the entire company. Epic is fixing this for all gamers.

The suit also mentions clauses Valve have that prevent developers selling at cheaper prices on other stores, "Valve blocks pro-competitive price competition through two main provisions—the Steam Key Price Parity Provision and the Price Veto Provision".

It goes even further to mention the likes of Microsoft, EA and more companies that tried and "failed to develop a robust commercial strategy away from the Steam Gaming Platform" arguing that it shows how vital Steam is and so the behaviour is anticompetitive. On top of that it even pulls in the Steam Workshop and the Steam Market, to claim this keeps developers even more tied to Valve and Steam and that Valve takes a big cut.

What are they hoping to achieve with this lawsuit? On top of damages and the usual, they want "injunctive relief removing Valve’s anticompetitive provisions" to "bring competition to the market and benefit the public as a whole".

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
Tags: Meta, Valve
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lunix 30 Apr
QuoteEpic is fixing this for all gamers.

I cringed. If Epic is the "future" of PC gaming then PC gaming is dead.
Werner 30 Apr
QuoteEpic is fixing this for all gamers.

it sounds like Epic gave them money to open a lawsuit
crt0mega 30 Apr
Oh jeez. Steam is more than just an "online storefront". I'm sick of repeating that over and over again -.-
TheSHEEEP 30 Apr
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I hope the lawsuit succeeds, although chances are naturally slim.
Their cut is and always has been too high.

Yes, they offer a ton of services, but practically no developer utilizes even half of them.
The solution is simple: Lower the minimal cut to something reasonable (closer to the Epic cut), then allow developers to opt-in to features they actually need, which would then increase the cut.


Last edited by TheSHEEEP on 30 April 2021 at 8:53 am UTC
dubigrasu 30 Apr
Richard Geldreich, that guy has a huge chip on his shoulder about Valve, I don't believe a word he's saying. Of course he's siding with Epic.
The 30% may seem high, but it's a pretty standard retail markup. In a lot of cases as with physical goods, markups* are even higher. Anyway, I predict that Valve will actually drop to 12% in line with some other stores eventually.

* Although I guess technically not a markup since the starting point is the retail price, not the wholesale price.
Ehvis 30 Apr
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Quoting: TheSHEEEPI hope the lawsuit succeeds, although chances are naturally slim.
Their cut is and always has been too high.

Yes, they offer a ton of services, but practically no developer utilizes even half of them.
The solution is simple: Lower the minimal cut to something reasonable (closer to the Epic cut), then allow developers to opt-in to features they actually need, which would then increase the cut.

All of that is irrelevant though. The reason why Valve can continue to ask for their cut, is because they can the deliver a lot of potential customers. No other store comes close. Even the big publishers that tried to sell exclusively on their own platform have been crawling back to Steam. And until that changes, Valve has no reason to make big changes to their pricing.

Basically the whole industry left Valve alone for a decade and didn't wake up to the future until it was too late. And now trying to break into the market in which Valve has a huge head start is nearly impossible. It's actually not unlike trying to make a new desktop OS to break into the Windows market share. Nice idea, but nearly impossible to achieve.
TheSHEEEP 30 Apr
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Quoting: Ehvis
Quoting: TheSHEEEPI hope the lawsuit succeeds, although chances are naturally slim.
Their cut is and always has been too high.

Yes, they offer a ton of services, but practically no developer utilizes even half of them.
The solution is simple: Lower the minimal cut to something reasonable (closer to the Epic cut), then allow developers to opt-in to features they actually need, which would then increase the cut.

All of that is irrelevant though. The reason why Valve can continue to ask for their cut, is because they can the deliver a lot of potential customers. No other store comes close. Even the big publishers that tried to sell exclusively on their own platform have been crawling back to Steam. And until that changes, Valve has no reason to make big changes to their pricing.

Basically the whole industry left Valve alone for a decade and didn't wake up to the future until it was too late. And now trying to break into the market in which Valve has a huge head start is nearly impossible. It's actually not unlike trying to make a new desktop OS to break into the Windows market share. Nice idea, but nearly impossible to achieve.
All true, but doesn't change how I think about it.
As I said, I hope it succeeds and I hope they eventually lower their cut.
But do I think this will happen, and soon? Nope.
toor 30 Apr
Wolfire Games?
I'm way too disappointed to what humble bundle became to give them any credit. I mean, Valve is indeed a huge thing, but at least they still invest time and energy to cool things, helping both dev with nice tools and users with cool features (steam link, steam remote play, ...) and they try to raise Linux to be a viable gaming platform.
I used to love humble bundle over Steam, and I used to buy all my games there. But then they decided to aim only for money and dropped one by one the nice ideas that brought them success.
Less quality bundles, no more super video announcer for humble bundles (I used to be so excited from it!), no more multi platform, no more indie, and recently, lowering users choice for where their money go.

I feel now that my money should rather go to Valve than to them for sure.
scaine 30 Apr
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I follow a lot of indies on Twitter who genuinely despise Steam. Not just for taking a 30% cut, but for taking that cut and giving almost nothing back. They argue that the lure of the biggest audience for gaming is useless when Steam's algorithms are geared to only highlight AAA or "popular" content.

The same argument and frustration is often voiced around Play and Apple's store - they take their 30% cut but unless you magically put out the next minecraft, factorio or limbo, you're gonna languish with pitiful sales until you go out of business.

So, good luck to the lawsuit. It's doomed though, for sure. I'm no lawyer, but I'm pretty sure that you have to have some fairly hard evidence that Valve actually abused their market position to suppress competition. And the clauses in question have already passed muster in other law suits... so I'm not sure the point to all this is.
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