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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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Like others have mentioned, I too use Steam mainly because that's where most of my games were bought from. The only way to eliminate the vendor lock-in problem for good would be for all these competing game distribution services to be supplanted by a single, open-source, decentralized (so probably blockchain-based) option. The LBRY network comes to mind... it's already possible to distribute software there but the various front end clients aren't exactly tailored to it, yet. Perhaps integration with it (or another better-suited network, if there is one) would be worth looking into for the devs of, say, Lutris and/or GameHub.
Quoting: rustybroomhandle
Quoting: MohandevirBlablabla... "For the customers freedom of choice".... Blablabla... Yeah right!

From my end, as a customer, everything is fine with Steam, but I understand, from what is being reported, that true quality indie developers are being drowned in shovelwares. That's the real issue. It all comes down to how much copies they are selling on Steam. Maybe Steam should think of a way to curate all that shovelware and remove all the noise that it causes in the discovery algorythms? Maybe there is just too much games on Steam?

All I know it's that, from my customer's point of view, there are two quality stores... Steam and GoG. I won't buy from anywhere else in the near futur... Maybe itch and in extreme cases, Stadia.

The regular game festivals is meant to help with that.

Is it enough?
tonR 7 May
Good Luck Mr. Rosen and Wolfire. That's all I can say.
Nanobang 7 May
Is all this a part of Valve's a contract/agreement between Valve and a game seller? It sounds like how the recording industry landscape is littered with musicians who lost all rights to their songs because of the contract they initially signed.

Or is it akin to the verbal contract made to a loan shark in a movie, details of which might simply be a matter of how the loan shark is feeling that day.

If all this was part of a written contract signed by Rosen, then it sounds like buyer's regret. Caveat emptor and all that. Shouldn't have signed a contract. It seems almost benign compared to the preposterous EULAs of almost any robust corporate software company you care to mention.

But. If Valve is just --- abracadabra! --- making these rules up whole cloth (which I doubt) then, yes, sue the crap and marrow out of them. They're behaving as petty, vindictive bullies, and should be taken down a peg or three.


Last edited by Nanobang on 7 May 2021 at 1:46 pm UTC
ShabbyX 7 May
I don't think the claim that thay you can't sell cheaper elsewhere is true even *with* steam key. Back when humble bundle actually had good bundles, I most certainly bought bundles for 20$ (a good deal of which went to charity) *and* got steam keys for ~10 games each.

I only buy on steam now, because yes they absolutely deserve their cut with all the work they are doing for Linux graphics. And if it wasn't for steam, they'd all be stuck in a windows store monopoly with no escape, so drop the lawsuit man, stop wasting everyone's time.
mirv 7 May
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Quoting: ShabbyXI don't think the claim that thay you can't sell cheaper elsewhere is true even *with* steam key. Back when humble bundle actually had good bundles, I most certainly bought bundles for 20$ (a good deal of which went to charity) *and* got steam keys for ~10 games each.

I only buy on steam now, because yes they absolutely deserve their cut with all the work they are doing for Linux graphics. And if it wasn't for steam, they'd all be stuck in a windows store monopoly with no escape, so drop the lawsuit man, stop wasting everyone's time.

It's at Valve's discretion. They don't mind a little of selling keys cheaper elsewhere because it keeps users locked into Steam.

And would you be saying the same if Valve didn't have a (proprietary) client on GNU/Linux? Because it sounds like Valve bought goodwill and a free pass to do shady stuff for pennies (compared to their profits).

Agree or not with Valve's price parity clause (disclaimer: I don't agree with that) but at least look at it on its own merits.
Lomkey 7 May
So they're not happy, that they can't sell their game cheaper then on steam my understanding. Nothing stopping them for doing it just with valve help. Don't seem fair for valve to allowed Dev to come out with a game on valve store and sell it cheaper then on steam. Can it be abused by Dev or other store.
kuhpunkt 7 May
Quoting: mirvAgree or not with Valve's price parity clause (disclaimer: I don't agree with that) but at least look at it on its own merits.

If there even is one...
JoZ3 7 May
the failure of other stores is not due to the 'dominance' of steam, it is due to regional prices, paying in dollars in my country is very high, the value of the currency is devalued with respect to the dollar, those prices are adapted to the cost of living is a big help, this is what other stores don't see. Sometimes I use stores like Nuuvem or GMG that also offer regional prices.

Thanks to this, and it is an observation that we make with friends, many friends and people we know within my country have stopped pirating games, because with the prices it is justified to pay for them. Proof of this is how the number of users of a FB group in my country that is for steam users has grown from about five years, approximately, to today
Xakep_SDK 7 May
Some games in steam can't be bought from steam store, you can have them only by purchasing a key.
Many games are sold cheaper outside of steam, without sales or anything.
I don't get this complaint. As user, i can and i buy games cheaper outside of steam store.
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