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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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Quoting: kuhpunktWhat extra 30%?!

Read article top to bottom. They loose some money because obviously they can't charge too much more, so generally devs take a slight hit in the profits in order to be competitive with other games of similar type.


Last edited by TheRiddick on 8 May 2021 at 2:50 pm UTC
kuhpunkt 8 May
Quoting: TheRiddick
Quoting: kuhpunktWhat extra 30%?!

Read article top to bottom. They loose some money because obviously they can't charge too much more, so generally devs take a slight hit in the profits in order to be competitive with other games of similar type.

But you said extra 30%, not "some money."
x_wing 8 May
Quoting: TheRiddick
Quoting: kuhpunktWhat extra 30%?!

Read article top to bottom. They loose some money because obviously they can't charge too much more, so generally devs take a slight hit in the profits in order to be competitive with other games of similar type.

There are many examples were they can charge the exact same money they do on Steam or even less. For example: on kickstarter they usually give you a Steam key when the project meets their budget goals, and from there they are definitely not forced to use the "same price as in Steam" by the simple fact that the game is most of the times not even published as early access or "coming soon". I don't know, for me it looks like that Steam is quite flexible in regards of how you can sell your games even before you publish it.

There is a lot of noise on each statement we get. At this point we really need the documents that have the statement that each part claims.
F.Ultra 9 May
Quoting: Purple Library GuyI notice that the allegation in the blog post says nothing about the actual contract wording. He claims that a threat was made, presumably by someone with the power to enforce it, to kick his game off Steam if he didn't stick to price parity, even if no Steam keys were involved.
There are a couple of problems with that when it comes to mounting a lawsuit. First, it could be very hard to prove. If they have emails or something then sure, but if it was a threat uttered in a non-recorded Zoom meeting, then they deny it and what have you got? Second, even if the specific threat was proved, it could be very hard to prove that such threats represented company policy. It might not even be the case that it represented company policy. Valve disavow the loose cannon, say that their conduct in no way represent Valve's practices and they will redouble their training efforts to make sure such misinterpretations of the company's position by staff don't happen again, and that's that. I suppose if you were lucky you might be able to go on a Discovery fishing expedition and shake loose some internal memos directing people to pull that kind of stuff, but I would figure that to be a long shot.
If as F.Ultra says this stuff isn't in the lawsuit, on a positive interpretation it could be that it's true but they realized they couldn't get anywhere suing on that basis.

On the other hand . . . the other thing about an allegation like this is that, well, it may be true, but if it's not true it's a great way to lie precisely because it's almost impossible to either prove or disprove. Nobody expects you to come up with the evidence because there may well not be any. And the victim can't refute your claim, so you've tarred them forever.

I looked deeper into the filed paper and perhaps the Wolfire blog is a reference to claim #155:
Quote155.Valve has also threatened publishers that offered lower prices on other platforms, insisting that customers using the Steam Store should get a similar deal or else Valve may remove the publisher’s games from the Steam Gaming Platform altogether.

Valve has also interrogated publishers about their deals on smaller platforms like Humble Bundle or Discord that offer lower commission rates than Steam.

For example, Valve contacted publishers who released their games at a lower price on those competing platforms to demandsimilar deals on Steam.

Because of Valve’s pressure tactics, publishers were forced to revise their deals with Humble Bundle and Discord or withdraw their games from those platforms all together.

But it's presented as just hearsay when Wolfire as the litigant having first hand experience according to the blog so why do they just write that "publishers" where contacted and not "they contacted us" when the latter have a much higher value as evince since that is something that Wolfire could testify to in court while the claim that they actually make is not something that they can testify to.


Last edited by F.Ultra on 9 May 2021 at 1:18 pm UTC
Two supermarkets in a town, one big and one small.

A tomato producer supplies both supermarkets. Also, the producer sells the tomatoes on the farm.

The big supermarket tells the producer he/she will be the main provider of tomatoes as the producer won't sell the tomatoes at a smaller price anywhere else including the farm.

So a bunch of options.
If you want to keep selling your tomatoes in the big one but lower the price, lower it everywhere, the small and your farm included.
If you want to lower the price in the small supermarket just take it out from the big. If your tomatoes are good enough people will driving to the small supermarket or even your farm, or the producer can hire a delivery service to get the tomatoes to people's door.

The blog is pretty much demagogy, "dear gamers" what? what this has to do with us? Are we getting being kinda forced to choose price over service? What if the small supermarket does not have returning policies? What if the tomatoes on the farm don't have quality assurance, and to return a product I need to drive all the way back again? What if the farmer does not allow other tomatoes consumer to speak with each other about the tomato's quality? Or if he picked the bad tomatoes to be on the top so they are the first picked.

Steam wasn't just a thing that born from anywhere, before Steam game developers sold their games in their websites, and they didn't allow bad reviews or honest opinions, neither accepted returns.

They want to sell it lower in other stores? Guess who is the BIG WINNER here? EPIC selling Steam games at a lower price than Steam. XD

DEMAGOGY...
Rosen believes that Valve is "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".

Epic has EXCLUSIVE games that aren't on Steam, still 60$ on release. Remember the last Hitman game?

So Steam is not stopping EXCLUSIVE Epic games to be a lower price, still full game prices tag.

Good luck.
I copy this from their blog, this response is superb and it shows this lawsuit is just an opportunity for some "Saul Goodman" to make a name. This is going nowhere and I feel very sorry for Steam haters.

"Your whole case sits on the following claim:
"But when I asked Valve about this plan, 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"

Can you elaborate on who exactly is this mysterious "they"? In what way did you communicate and with whom? Why is this vital information missing from the lawsuit?

I'm asking this because when communicating with in the past, I got the exact opposite response - that their parity terms only apply to 3rd party sales distributing their Steamworks keys, and that's reasonable because they don't charge commission for them.

This is also what the Steam distribution agreement itself specifies, and what countless other real-life cases demonstrate (Indie Gala transitioned to DRM-free giveaways of games that are also available on Steam a for a few years now). So to me, it sounds like you either misunderstood the answer you got, "they" misunderstood your question, or you spoke with someone on no actual authority to tell you that."
Quoting: orochi_kyoSo a bunch of options.
If you want to keep selling your tomatoes in the big one but lower the price, lower it everywhere, the small and your farm included.
If you want to lower the price in the small supermarket just take it out from the big. If your tomatoes are good enough people will driving to the small supermarket or even your farm
Hahaha! Sure they will.
Kristian 11 May
So there was nothing to the split personality thing?
Mohandevir 11 May
Quoting: Nezchan
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!

If that is the case, I just hope that Valve are thinking about taking steps to sue these liars (because that's what they are) and send another message: "You can't damage a reputation on false claims whitout consequences."
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