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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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153 comments
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kuhpunkt 30 Apr, 2021
Quoting: x_wingBTW, seems that GOG takes a similar cut from devs and had financial problems not long ago. Anyway, what a greedy bastards!

That's the thing. They take 30%. They broke it down in a documentary. Operating costs, servers, transfer fees, wages and all that crap... it was 20% from the sale. 10% of each sale was their actual profit.
Lomkey 30 Apr, 2021
If they offer a physical disk then 30% is to high but is all digital then is standard %. Until other store's offer a more build in tools.
x_wing 30 Apr, 2021
Quoting: scaineI 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.

Valve implemented the discovery queue and curators recommendation. And during the sales, you have to explore the discovery queue in order to get a trading card. At least in my case, I was able to discover many nice games with the DQ.
tonR 30 Apr, 2021
Little bit look of their past/background.... nah... too many conflict of interests.

BTW, good luck with lawsuit. Don't think any WA states' bureaucrats/system will piss off their own successful corporation, especially on borderline vexatious litigation. You know, the unwritten rule in the USA called "don't chop your hand who feed you".
GodofGrunts 30 Apr, 2021
So wild to me when people make these claims against Valve.

GOG, Humble, Itch, Amazon, Epic, Origin, and even the Microsoft Store are other options to sell your game.

Also, read some of these cringe statements.

Quote"A gamer that has an extensive list of friends on the Steam Gaming Platform along with a large library of games is less likely to purchase the Xbox edition of the game, even if she owns an alternative platform like the Xbox."

No shit?

Quote"Moreover, games that are released on multiple platforms and allow online multiplayer gaming do not always allow the players on each platform to game together. For example, a game released on both PC Desktop and PlayStation does not necessarily allow the PC Desktop gamers to play with the PlayStation gamers. The same is true across PC Desktop Gaming Platforms like the Steam Gaming Platform and the EGS Platform—while both platforms utilize PC hardware, it is still not guaranteed that multiplayer functionality will work across platforms. Therefore, if a gamer has built a large social network on a specific gaming platform, she may lose access to the ability to enjoy multiplayer games with others in her social network if she switches gaming platforms."

How is this Valve's fault in anyway?

QuotePublishers likewise face high switching costs when considering alternative gaming platforms. Games are often published for use on particular platforms in order to leverage platform-specific features like multiplayer, automatic updates, and social networking features. Publishers must often write platform-specific code that makes it costly to publish their games simultaneously on multiple platforms. Therefore, creating alternative versions of games is costly, as shown by the presence of publishers that publish their games solely for the Steam Gaming Platform.

So Valve is "abusing" their market position because they offer services that allow devs to integrate with their platform? How is this any different from Microsoft and Sony doing it on their systems? Also, you don't have to use any of Steam's features if you don't want to.

QuoteIf a PC Desktop Gaming Platform obtains an exclusive sales contract with a game publisher, gamers using other PC Desktop Gaming Platforms often react negatively, because they want to use the PC Desktop Gaming Platform of their choice and not lose the benefits that have locked them into that PC Desktop Gaming Platform over time.

No, we're mad at Epic for sniping games away and requiring them to be locked in to the EGS. If a company only wants to sell their game on one platform that's their prerogative.

They even make that exact argument in the next paragraph.

QuoteThe exclusive release of Borderlands 3 as enabled for the EGS Platform (rather than the Steam Gaming Platform), for example, triggered a backlash among some gamers, with reactions including “calls for boycotts, Youtube rants, conspiracy theories and review bombing.”16One user started a petition on the “r/gaming” online Reddit community. That user argued, “We can’t just let Epic Games keep buying out exclusives to their [expletive] launcher. This is very anti consumer and it is literally epic paying millions to 2k [Borderlands 3’s publisher] just to [expletive] over us the buyers. I really suggest everyone on pc to boycott the game until it releases on steam so Epic does not get any of our money.”17 If the use of one PC Desktop Gaming Platform were fully interchangeable with the use of another, there would be no objection or protest to the exclusive launch of a game on an alternative PC Desktop Gaming Platform, and instead gamers would freely switch to the EGS Platform. That platforms within the relevant market are not interchangeable demonstrates that the products at issue in the relevant market are not interchangeable with products outside the relevant market.

How are they this self aware?

I really don't think this lawsuit can be read in anyway other than a proxy lawsuit for Epic.


Last edited by GodofGrunts on 30 April 2021 at 2:00 pm UTC
Comandante Ñoñardo 30 Apr, 2021
Steamplay 2.0 aka PROTON, from my point of view, is a service for the consumers (and developers) and is paid with that 30%.
aukkras 30 Apr, 2021
Quoting: toorWolfire Games?
I'm way too disappointed to what humble bundle became to give them any credit. [...] But then they decided to aim only for money and dropped one by one the nice ideas that brought them success.

Yeah, though for me it was captcha that ruined it - I decided to delete my account there when they decided to spam captcha all over their site: login ? solve captcha; want to get free bundle ? solve captcha; want to buy something ? solve captcha; want to confirm the transaction ? solve captcha; at least logout didn't require it... it was unbearable. No other site required solving captchas from me as much as this one.
fagnerln 30 Apr, 2021
I find interesting how Linux users which spread "freedom" loves a law to hurt the freedom of a corporation. Google, Apple, Valve...

Those three it's on a comfortable state because they make good services. Instead of make the state interfere, just praise the alternative one

How in the hell a large cut is bad for competition? Wtf? This means that the competition have a wider cut to work: 25, 20, 15...

Just go to another store there's a bunch of them: itch, GoG, EGS, Windows Store, Humble, Origin, uPlay...
kuhpunkt 30 Apr, 2021
Quoting: GuestValve need competition against Steam. The reality is that it's the main place to get most games, and it's the primary point of purchase for just about anything. I've seen a good many comments on this very site that if a game isn't on Steam, they won't buy it. If a developer wants a game to be successful, they've practically no choice but to put in on Steam (exceptions exist of course, but for the vast majority this is quite true).

Valve have far too much influence as a distribution platform. It's not healthy for the gaming ecosystem. They can pretty much do what they want with impunity, and that's really not good.

At about this point I'm sure several people will be foaming at the mouth and already typing out something furiously, but at no point above did I say Valve were bad or evil. They've reached this position by being good at the business. My point is that the situation is bad, and the situation is harmful to gaming, particularly on GNU/Linux.

On a parallel note, the flood of crap on Steam is really harmful to developers, and customers too. Part of the reason I continue to support GOL is for discovering nice games. Something like Vaporum I'd never have seen were it not covered on this site. Valve's so-called "algorithm" is basically just a way for them not to have a hand in any sort of store curation. While there are arguments for and against that, if Valve don't have a hand in it, they shouldn't take money for it. That 30% cut of theirs is, I believe, too much.

The real solution is some competition to force the market to be a little more friendly. The problem with that now is being really difficult to get into the market: Epic did it by spending an awful lot of money to get exclusives, and personally I think they botched it (to say nothing of completely ignoring GNU/Linux).

How is it unhealthy for the gaming ecosystem? How is the situation bad exactly? How is it harmful to gaming?
BielFPs 30 Apr, 2021
QuoteIt 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"

And I thank God everyday for that, I imagine how "Apple-storeish" PC gaming would be if the top game store were owned by one of those companies.

About the 30% cut, I think Valve should make different options for indie developers, like if you're a small company you pay a lower cut, in exchange of not having some "benefits" from the platform. But if your game sells past x keys or if your profit pass $x,xx value, we by contract start to get the standard 30% cut (and you get the "right" to access all the benefits, even if you don't use them).

This way I think it would "balance" a little the current situation.

Also indie devs need to understand that no matter how much love and time they invested developing a game, no one are obligated to buy them, so in today's over saturated market it's really up to them to properly develop a quality game and to properly publicize it. Algorithms will help up to a part, but they're not responsible for it success.

And about the lawsuit, this whole subject is ridiculous. As far as I know it's not like Valve is directly boycotting other stores, they're just the result of Gabe Newell being a visionary back then, when no one thought about this business model, and for Valve continuously investing in make Steam a better platform for consumers, despite already being the leader.

Imagine try to sue whatsapp for being the biggest chat app, or google for being the biggest search engine, or Microsoft for Excel being the biggest spreadsheet program.
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