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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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kuhpunkt 30 Apr
Quoting: scaineThe 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.

And the solution would be what? Everybody is always screaming for CoMPetItiOn... and when they have that and lose against other more popular titles, it sucks. Go figure.
Liam Dawe 30 Apr
Quoting: toorI feel now that my money should rather go to Valve than to them for sure.
They haven't been a part of Humble Bundle for years.
scaine 30 Apr
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Quoting: kuhpunkt
Quoting: scaineThe 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.

And the solution would be what? Everybody is always screaming for CoMPetItiOn... and when they have that and lose against other more popular titles, it sucks. Go figure.

The point is how they get popular. If the algorithm was fairer for new titles, then indies would have a better chance at leveraging Steam and becoming the next big thing. But since it doesn't, they never hit the front-page and the same tired (but popular) games are constantly regurgitated on the carousel and in the discovery queues.

There's also a huge amount of opacity around how that algorithm works. It used to be "okay" for indies, but a couple of years ago (maybe 2018?) it changed, and multiple indies saw their revenues destroyed. They weren't even being surfaced during sales. It put some studios out of business.
kuhpunkt 30 Apr
Quoting: scaine
Quoting: kuhpunkt
Quoting: scaineThe 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.

And the solution would be what? Everybody is always screaming for CoMPetItiOn... and when they have that and lose against other more popular titles, it sucks. Go figure.

The point is how they get popular. If the algorithm was fairer for new titles, then indies would have a better chance at leveraging Steam and becoming the next big thing. But since it doesn't, they never hit the front-page and the same tired (but popular) games are constantly regurgitated on the carousel and in the discovery queues.

There's also a huge amount of opacity around how that algorithm works. It used to be "okay" for indies, but a couple of years ago (maybe 2018?) it changed, and multiple indies saw their revenues destroyed. They weren't even being surfaced during sales. It put some studios out of business.

You can't force being popular. No algorithm in the world can change that. It used be be "okay" for indies, because there was less competition. Less games that would take away your attention.

Valve already tries what they can with Game Festivals and whatnot, where they highlight hundreds of games.

Do people complain about Bandcamp or iTunes or Amazon, because their unknown albums and movies aren't able to compete with Taylor Swift and Star Wars?
lunix 30 Apr
Quoting: kuhpunkt
Quoting: scaine
Quoting: kuhpunkt
Quoting: scaineThe 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.

And the solution would be what? Everybody is always screaming for CoMPetItiOn... and when they have that and lose against other more popular titles, it sucks. Go figure.

The point is how they get popular. If the algorithm was fairer for new titles, then indies would have a better chance at leveraging Steam and becoming the next big thing. But since it doesn't, they never hit the front-page and the same tired (but popular) games are constantly regurgitated on the carousel and in the discovery queues.

There's also a huge amount of opacity around how that algorithm works. It used to be "okay" for indies, but a couple of years ago (maybe 2018?) it changed, and multiple indies saw their revenues destroyed. They weren't even being surfaced during sales. It put some studios out of business.

You can't force being popular. No algorithm in the world can change that. It used be be "okay" for indies, because there was less competition. Less games that would take away your attention.

Valve already tries what they can with Game Festivals and whatnot, where they highlight hundreds of games.

Do people complain about Bandcamp or iTunes or Amazon, because their unknown albums and movies aren't able to compete with Taylor Swift and Star Wars?

Yes, nowadays Steam is flooded with indie shovelware and it's good that I don't have to see them every time I go to the store because I just wouldn't visit the page if I'd get greeted by the 9127th open-world-survival-crafting game every time. AAA studios aren't any better, they just keep recreating the same game with a different name. All of them wants money but they don't want to innovate or at least, copy a decent combat system.
kerossin 30 Apr
Quoting: lunix
QuoteEpic is fixing this for all gamers.

I cringed. If Epic is the "future" of PC gaming then PC gaming is dead.


Like seriously, I understand that Valve has flaws and that Epic may not be all bad but this Richard guy sounds like a complete Epic shill and Valve hater. If someone was objectively critizing Valve they couldn't possibly put Epic as any type of savior.
Hori 30 Apr
The 30% cut is terrible but that doesn't make Epic the good guy. FAR from it.
kuhpunkt 30 Apr
Quoting: HoriThe 30% cut is terrible but that doesn't make Epic the good guy. FAR from it.

What wouldn't be terrible?

I'd still like to see a number that's actually sustainable.

Video distribution for wrestling, boxing etc. is available on fite.tv - their cut is about 50%.
elmapul 30 Apr
the issue is that the public dont want competition, they want convenience at all costs.
people want netflix to be an monopoly so they can sing an single bill and have everything that netflix decides to licence (while ignore that there are a lot of good content unlicenced by netflix), and at the same time they have an single user interface to browser for all the content (lets ignore that its possible to have this by another aproach: separate the content from the presentation, wich is what google tv want to achiev, so you can browser an single ui for the content avaliable on all streaming services)

people want the same convenience on pc gaming, all games in a single user interface, all achievments in a single account, and those steam stickers and other gimmicks on every purchase.

consumers can be quite stupid sometimes, i can understand when an linux user complain that other stores dont support linux at all, the issue is: are we willing to sacrifice everything to push linux foward /keep using it?
backward compatibility is pretty much non existent already.


Last edited by elmapul on 30 April 2021 at 11:46 am UTC
scaine 30 Apr
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Quoting: kuhpunkt
Quoting: scaine
Quoting: kuhpunkt
Quoting: scaineThe 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.

And the solution would be what? Everybody is always screaming for CoMPetItiOn... and when they have that and lose against other more popular titles, it sucks. Go figure.

The point is how they get popular. If the algorithm was fairer for new titles, then indies would have a better chance at leveraging Steam and becoming the next big thing. But since it doesn't, they never hit the front-page and the same tired (but popular) games are constantly regurgitated on the carousel and in the discovery queues.

There's also a huge amount of opacity around how that algorithm works. It used to be "okay" for indies, but a couple of years ago (maybe 2018?) it changed, and multiple indies saw their revenues destroyed. They weren't even being surfaced during sales. It put some studios out of business.

You can't force being popular. No algorithm in the world can change that. It used be be "okay" for indies, because there was less competition. Less games that would take away your attention.

Valve already tries what they can with Game Festivals and whatnot, where they highlight hundreds of games.

Do people complain about Bandcamp or iTunes or Amazon, because their unknown albums and movies aren't able to compete with Taylor Swift and Star Wars?

The algorithm did change that. It's nothing to do with competition. Sure, you can't force being popular, but even 1000 sales for an indie were important and they got those sales, year after year, sustainably. Then the algorithm changed (devs were informed by Valve that this was happening, but no details as to what it meant) and 1000+ sales turned into less than 100.

So, multiple indies reporting that their sales literally fell off a cliff, as a result of this one change.

These aren't popular games, but they're solid games that used to get exposure. Now they don't. So the 30% cut by Valve, for these devs, is particularly insulting, because Valve is adding precisely no value. Indeed, many of these indies saw (for the first time, ever, over years) greater sales via Itch, than on Steam.
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