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Recently we wrote about how Wolfire Games (Lugaru, Overgrowth, Receiver) engaged in a legal battle with Steam owner Valve in regards to alleged anti-competitive behaviour.

Wolfire's David Rosen has now written up a blog post to explain their feelings on why. It's worth noting that Rosen was one of the original founders of the Humble Indie Bundle, later spun off into its own Humble Bundle company and then sold to IGN. Rosen then, you would think, has a reasonably good grasp on how all this works on the business side. It's somewhat amusing that the blog post starts with "Dear gamers", which probably isn't going to do them any favours in such a legal battle.

Rosen mentions how they felt they had "no choice" as they believe "gamers and game developers are being harmed by Valve's conduct" and they're not doing it for personal gain. Rosen said after wanting to have Overgrowth listed at a lower price on a newer store, they "personally experienced the conduct described in the complaint". Speaking to Valve, Rosen said "they replied that they would remove Overgrowth from Steam if I allowed it to be sold at a lower price anywhere, even from my own website without Steam keys and without Steam’s DRM" and so that "would make it impossible for me, or any game developer, to determine whether or not Steam is earning their commission".

So the problem here isn't specifically the 30% cut Valve take but rather Valve forcing price parity, or developers face being removed from Steam.

Rosen believes that Valve are "taking away gamers' freedom to choose how much extra they are willing to pay to use their platform" and that it's believed "this is part of why all competing stores have failed".

We did reach out to Valve yesterday for a statement to no reply.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
Tags: Meta, Steam, Valve
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Valve will remove "Infinitrap : Rehamstered Edition" from Steam .
micha 7 May
The problem is less the 30% cut but the price binding.

Up to now, I believed that you are not allowed to sell the game cheaper elsewhere if you want to include a Steam-Key. That would make sense to me.
But without a Steam key / any Steam features (DRM, ..), the price binding it's a kinda ridiculous.

I personally would pay in the realm of 10% more if I get a Steam key. To me it's worth the extra features Steam provides. But it should be a choice.
Anyhoo, much like the Apple/Epic thing I think the only good thing that will come out of this is that a bunch of previously secret info/documents will now become public. Always nice to know more.

Also, I have bought Steam keys cheaper than Steam on other stores before (Indiegala, Humble). Not sure how much Valve enforces the price parity rule. They could probably just concede and lose nothing.

Example: You can buy a boxed version of Prey from Amazon that comes with a Steam key for $20 (new, not used), which is definitely cheaper than on Steam. I can't see the dollar prices, but even with regional pricing, the Amazon one is cheaper.


Last edited by rustybroomhandle on 7 May 2021 at 8:56 am UTC
Rooster 7 May
I have to give them credit: Aside from Steam, both their games are available on all 3 other good stores: Itch, GOG and Humble. Although for some reason, Overgrowth doesn't appear on Itch search.
Ehvis 7 May
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Quoting: michaBut without a Steam key / any Steam features (DRM, ..), the price binding it's a kinda ridiculous.

Agreed, if that is what is actually happening, it is something that needs to be crushed. And that would be something that has a chance of succeeding.
Ananace 7 May
I personally understand why Steam would want to have the requirement for price equivalency, it makes no sense for them to host a game for someone - and incurring costs on their platform for that - if the original person is going to undercut them from day one. No other storefront would go for that deal either.
Their agreement even states an allowance for price differences in the form of sales, as long as you agree to also give Steam users similar sales so that they're not treated worse than other customers.
Feist 7 May
"Rosen believes that Valve are "taking away gamers' freedom to choose how much extra they are willing to pay to use their platform" and that it's believed "this is part of why all competing stores have failed"."

I really don't know if this is actually a real and genuine issue or more of an imagined one.

For me, the fact that I have 95% of my games on steam and all the various steam services/steam benefits connected to all those games is pretty much a permanent "deal breaker" with any other option/alternative. Price has nothing to do with it. That feeling doesn't even factor in the great convinience of Proton as a linux gamer.

Lol, in a way it's kind of like the well known saying about real estate: "location, location, location". The same exact building or apartment can range in value from essentially worthless to almost priceless, all depending on where it's located.


Last edited by Feist on 7 May 2021 at 9:42 am UTC
crt0mega 7 May
Quoting: LiamDSpeaking to Valve, Rosen said "they replied that they would remove Overgrowth from Steam if I allowed it to be sold at a lower price anywhere, even from my own website without Steam keys and without Steam’s DRM" and so that "would make it impossible for me, or any game developer, to determine whether or not Steam is earning their commission".
Now that's a quite understandable complaint IMHO. Thanks for clarification!
ripper 7 May
QuoteIt's somewhat amusing that the blog post starts with "Dear gamers", which probably isn't going to do them any favours in such a legal battle.
What's wrong with Dear gamers?
Pikolo 7 May
Requiring sales to other parties to be made at "price no lower than to you" is called a most favorabl nation provision, and it's one of tell-tale signs of an oligopoly (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Most_favoured_nation#In_contract_law). TL;DR: Antitrust proceedings inbound.
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