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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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171 comments
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Tuxee 2 May
Quoting: omer666
Quoting: tonyrhwow everyone here is an expert at games development and marketing!1!
Yes, because movie critics are all expert filmmakers.

"30% is too much" is not a qualitative assessment but rates a very specific figure. Yet all in this discussion who have stated this failed to come up with the adequate cut Steam deserves.

Anyway, the "discussion" is really getting toxic.
omer666 2 May
Quoting: Tuxee
Quoting: omer666
Quoting: tonyrhwow everyone here is an expert at games development and marketing!1!
Yes, because movie critics are all expert filmmakers.

"30% is too much" is not a qualitative assessment but rates a very specific figure. Yet all in this discussion who have stated this failed to come up with the adequate cut Steam deserves.

Anyway, the "discussion" is really getting toxic.
If it is not a qualitative assessment, how can you say 30% is too much? How can you discuss the price of something you don't qualitatively assess?
The discussion can get very toxic indeed, but I think there are smart people in here who want to discuss the issue at hand in a civilised manner.
dvd 3 May
It's not like Valve is making corrupt deals with governements and hardware manufacturers trying its hardest to make their software the only one that runs on machines. (in public and private institutions) Oh hey that's windows!

I don't think this is anything new, they can't expect Steam to be the only vehicle for their games. Some *other* stores push exclusivity and lock-ins way harder. And those are supposed to be better? Come on...
From a linuxusers perspective i must say that i am mostly using opensource software. The only exception in my case is gaming where i am in proprietary land. So i choose the store that supports my OS of choice best. And that is without a doubt steam. It might be a good idea to lower the 30% cut at least for indie developers to keep steam attractive for them. I am not a fan of having different gamelaunchers on my system. Even if Epic and others would support linux i would rather stick with steam to keep the gaming stuff all in one place. Having multiple tools to do the same thing is useless from an endusers perspective. In my opinion all "secondary" launchers (Origin,Ubisoft..) should be removed from games distributed over steam.
Liam Dawe 3 May
Please remain respectful to people. There is no need for name calling. People who don't behave and follow our clear rules will be removed. We do moderate. Remember to hit the little flag on posts that don't follow the rules.
STiAT 3 May
I personally think a 30 percent cut is high in todays time especially with the budgets, pricing and amount of players/sales generated nowdays.

That said, it's not as if they do not provide a service. It would only be problematic in my eyes if they did actively prevent the developers to distribute on other stores.

If there is no competition with better pricing and a good user base, that's hardly Valves fault. And it's not as if their cut went up, it was always there.

And ... an app like Steam is not tremendously hard to make, especially for big players. That they do not succeed to compete has other reasons. And if the big players wanted they could unite and do a platform, distribute their titles for free there and allow others for a 10 percent cut to distribute on their platform.

Allow steam keys for games to be imported for free, make the pricing better than on steam, there you go, you do have a competitor.

Nobody is willing to do that, everyone who creates stores wants the cash cow business for themselves, sells at the same price as steam or only a little bit below that, and has 25-30 percent cuts on games not from them too, and therefore does not succeed. Since I will not switch either if another platform has no reasonable advantage for me as user, neither will developers.
Quoting: tonR
Quoting: PublicNuisanceThe reality is that gamers are as much to blame as Valve. Take Wolfire for instance, they sell their games on Steam but also Itch.io and Humble Store. If a gamer wanted to give them maximum profit Itch.io would probably be the best bet as Itch.io allows developers to set what revenue goes to Itch and what they keep. The option is there but the issue is that most gamers prefer to buy from Steam to keep their games in one library. In other words they should be as mad at gamers as they are at Valve as gamers choose where to buy their games. Of course getting mad at your customer and suing them doesn't play so well from a PR standpoint. Just to make clear, i'm not saying they should sue gamers or even be mad at them but it makes as much sense (or as little) as being mad at Valve. I for one try to buy from Itch.io and GOG as I prefer to support those businesses that give me a DRM free product and support open source (in Itch's case not GOG). I'm the minority though, most gamers don't care. They just want their games and don't care about ideology or business practices. As long as that is true then Valve will remain king and no lawsuit will change that.
Totally disagree with your statement that I bolded.
Here the thing. Why most gamers especially in developing/emerging countries (which includes me) choose Steam because of one thing: Convenience

I can buy Steam wallet code anywhere! 7-Eleven, Tesco (now called Lotus as Thai company bought it), some mom-and-pop shops, telcos and even a bank! (Maybank Malaysia link). Some country such as India also have Cash on Delivery option.

So, Why should we get blame for choosing a company that offers better service to us. The one who willingly takes extra mile to reach us the gamers, as their customers. Don't mad at us for exercising our consumerism.

Without extra mile that Valve took, piracy will be rampaging again. Just like the old times. As Gaben said:
Piracy is an issue of service, not price

Apologies. Just share our sentiment (and some facts) here. And I do bought some games on itch.io if possible too.

I feel like you may have missed where I said

"Just to make clear, i'm not saying they should sue gamers or even be mad at them but it makes as much sense (or as little) as being mad at Valve."

I don't see being mad at Valve as being productive, i'm simply saying that if one were to want to be mad at someone that being mad at gamers makes as much sense as they are the ones choosing where to shop.
tonR 4 May
Quoting: PublicNuisanceI feel like you may have missed where I said

"Just to make clear, i'm not saying they should sue gamers or even be mad at them but it makes as much sense (or as little) as being mad at Valve."
Strongly agree.

QuoteI don't see being mad at Valve as being productive, i'm simply saying that if one were to want to be mad at someone that being mad at gamers makes as much sense as they are the ones choosing where to shop.
Customer is always right! period. If they (devs or platform provider or both) are mad at us, screw them! Not my problem.

p/s: But! If they want to lobbying (a.k.a bribery, we should never romanticize corruption) our breucracy, try to monopolize our digital market, try to kill innocence brick-and-mortar shop with so-called loss leader (a.k.a nonsense revenue), using some "V.I.Ps" as "influencers" (which may includes politicians), gaslighting by making dissent of their action as enemy of the nation and many shit-ass stuff; is what I afraid of. The era of buy/sell at gunpoint* is over long time ago! I never ever want it back.

*: Both literally and factually speaking


Last edited by tonR on 4 May 2021 at 1:18 pm UTC
s8as8a 5 May
Quoting: Interknet
Quoting: s8as8aFor what it's worth, the 30% (or any percentage) cut doesn't seem bad to me (even if they didn't "give back" anything to the community, but in our case, they do, and a lot). What does seem bad to me is the "clauses Valve have that prevent developers selling at cheaper prices on other stores" (because that improperly reduces competition among stores, and that likely is the point).

That sounds like a myth honestly. I'm sure I've seen games available elsewhere for less many times.
Maybe they were violating Valve's license agreement? To be honest, I'm not sure if that's true either, but what I meant was that if it is, I'm against that.
Quoting: s8as8a
Quoting: Interknet
Quoting: s8as8aFor what it's worth, the 30% (or any percentage) cut doesn't seem bad to me (even if they didn't "give back" anything to the community, but in our case, they do, and a lot). What does seem bad to me is the "clauses Valve have that prevent developers selling at cheaper prices on other stores" (because that improperly reduces competition among stores, and that likely is the point).

That sounds like a myth honestly. I'm sure I've seen games available elsewhere for less many times.
Maybe they were violating Valve's license agreement? To be honest, I'm not sure if that's true either, but what I meant was that if it is, I'm against that.
I seem to remember from last time there was a piece here about a similar lawsuit, that the agreements in question (probably) were about regular price (or "sales" that went on for so long that they were de facto the regular price). So it didn't stop people from putting their stuff on sale for a week on some other store, but it did stop them from having the price at Itch or Epic be 20% lower on an ongoing basis.
This may not be true, though--that info seems to have been based on speculation and perhaps a bit of fact-based gossip, since the agreements themselves are not public and nothing has yet been hashed out in court. So we know the allegations and a bit of "people in the know say" but no solid facts.
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