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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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86 comments
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mylka 8 May
"if I allowed it to be sold at a lower price anywhere"

i wanna see how other stores react, when he sells his game on steam for a lower price, than... lets say epic

sweeney would be the first one who sues EVERYBODY
ShabbyX 8 May
Quoting: lelorrainIt works only one way with Steam. A good example is the large discount Steam offered recently on "Horizon Zero Dawn", but it was NOT discounted on GOG, still at the initial Cdn$60 which was the same as on Steam ...

See the post above that leaked a piece of the policy. It says they don't want to create disadvantage to Steam users, so if publisher offers discount elsewhere, they should do it on Steam too.

If the publisher offers discount on Steam but not GOG, really it's on them for being unfair. You can't really expect Steam to force them to put the game on sale on GOG because it went on sale on Steam.
kuhpunkt 8 May
Quoting: lelorrainIt works only one way with Steam. A good example is the large discount Steam offered recently on "Horizon Zero Dawn", but it was NOT discounted on GOG, still at the initial Cdn$60 which was the same as on Steam ...

BTW, I have both versions, since I prefer the no-DRM, no-background APP of GOG!

Nobody is telling the publisher to not put HZD on sale on gog...
Oh, very important thing about the price parity clause. It's from the Steamworks documentation, not from any of the legal documents that a publisher has to agree to. I believe the reason that Valve don't enforce this rule at all, is because it's not a rule, just a guideline and it's not legally enforceable.

See my example about Prey (with Steam key) being only $20 on Amazon full price, vs whatever the Steam price is.
I kind of get why Tarkov devs are selling on their own website atm, at least while in development. They need that extra %30 and if it was on steam the game would cost a fair bit more which isn't fair to the player base.
kuhpunkt 8 May
Quoting: TheRiddickI kind of get why Tarkov devs are selling on their own website atm, at least while in development. They need that extra %30 and if it was on steam the game would cost a fair bit more which isn't fair to the player base.

What extra 30%?!
tuubi 8 May
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Quoting: Cyril
Quoting: tonyrhwow everyone here is a game developing expert and a marketing expert and a legal expert!
I wonder where do you all find the time to play games?

You again?

Well he's clearly an expert at spotting experts. Maybe he works in HR?

But seriously, I wonder if I'm actually allowed to talk about games with strangers. I'm certainly no gaming expert. An enthusiast at best.
I wonder when someone will try to sue the Epic Store - after all they have been giving away about 200 games for free by now, thus effectively devaluating the product and binding consumers free time so there will be less interest in buying games overall. ;-)
syylk 8 May
TLDR: Epic paid us.
Nezchan 8 May
Quoting: F.Ultra
Quoting: mirv
Quoting: kuhpunkt
Quoting: mirv
Quoting: kuhpunkt
Quoting: mirv
Quoting: kuhpunkt
Quoting: mirv
Quoting: kuhpunkt
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...

Have you read the lawsuit?

And this topic is about a blog post of someone who is in a position to know if there is this clause or not. He's seen the clauses.

Unless you're calling him a liar. In which case I'd say that David Rosen has far more credibility than you do.

And I have quoted Chet Faliszek (ex-Valve employee), who said that such a clause doesn't exist.

Great. Show me the quote.

https://www.gamingonlinux.com/2021/05/david-rosen-of-wolfire-games-explains-why-theyre-taking-on-valve-in-a-lawsuit/comment_id=202951

Yeah....that doesn't say what you think it says. Someone is asking explicitly about price parity and there is, at the time of writing, no response to that.

If that's not the main point, what is?

Welcome to the world of manipulative language.
Most of the lawsuit is, in my opinion, full of it. But the price parity for places where there are no steam keys involved, is possibly quite serious, so it pays to be extra explicit about it.

Agreed that it would be quite serious, but I have one major problem here and that is that this whole affair sounds and looks like a Rudy Giuliani lawsuit where they say one thing out of court and one thing in court. What I mean by that is that on this blog Wolfire claim that they have personal experience with Valve threatening to withdraw their games if they sold it cheaper elsewhere even if no Steam keys where involved but in the actual paper that they filed with the court they only mention that a 3d party got that exact threat from Valve when Steam keys where involved.

So why not include their own experience of which they would have good evidence of unless this is just smoke and mirrors.

I think that's exactly the idea here. It's not a lawsuit anyone intends to win. The intent is to send a message, and lodge in the public's mind that Steam is doing this shady thing that they may or may not be actually doing. Rudy Giuliani is an apt comparison, since his suits aren't about legally actionable claims, but about undermining trust and giving supporters of his "side" (in this case "crusading storefronts" like Epic) something to latch on to, claiming Steam must be bad, look at all the lawsuits filed against them!
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