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Valve fires back in the lawsuit from Wolfire Games

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We've been waiting to hear how the lawsuit from Wolfire Games (and others) would progress against Valve, and now we at least have word from Valve on what they think. Naturally, Valve are trying to get the whole thing dismissed. What a shocker, as if we didn't all expect Valve to fire back and try to shut it all down. What company wouldn't?

As a quick reminder: the original lawsuit alleges that Valve's 30% cut is abuse of their market position, and it complains about how Valve handles Steam keys too. David Rosen of Wolfire also tried to clarify some details in a later blog post which claimed that Valve would remove their game Overgrowth if they sold it cheaper elsewhere.

In the new motion filed on July 26, Valve were quite blunt with their reasoning for wanting it all thrown out. The point about Steam keys is an interesting one, as the motion states "Plaintiffs’ allegations that Valve's Steam Key rules amount to an unlawful PMFN* fail for the straightforward reason that Valve, which created and owns Steam, has no duty under the  antitrust laws to create a method (here, Steam Keys) for game developers to sell Steam-enabled games in stores that compete with Steam.".

*PMFN meaning Permanent Most Favoured Nation

The Most Favoured Nation part is an interesting one, something we've seen developers mention before. However, in this lawsuit Valve are saying no real evidence on it existing has been shown. The only example during this that has been shown was for Discord, when a game was going to be given out free and Valve say "what’s missing from Plaintiffs’ narrative about the sixteen games priced the same is any factual allegation that Valve enforced the alleged PMFN or did anything at all to affect, let alone coerce, the developers to sell at the same prices in two store" and goes on to repeat that there's no actual evidence to show that Valve is forcing pricing to be the same between stores.

When it touches on the 30% cut Valve take, it mentions how "it alleges no facts from which the Court could plausibly infer that Valve’s 30% commission (reduced at larger sales volumes) is above the competitive level" and that "30% was a competitive price from the beginning, was still so nearly a decade later in 2013, when Steam allegedly became 'dominant', and nothing is alleged to have happened since then to make it supracompetitive". Valve are basically saying that it remains competitive, and they say that Wolfire are trying to suggest (with no given evidence as to why) that Valve should reduce the cut over time.

It ends by stating again the lawsuit fails to show any "unlawful conduct, antitrust injury, market power" and so on and so they're asking the court to "grant the motion and dismiss Plaintiff Wolfire’s claims, if it does not stay them pending arbitration"

Overall, pretty standard stuff for a case that was probably doomed to failure from the beginning.

From what we can assume from this lawsuit, and the wording involved, is that Valve does appear to have nothing to state developers need to ensure their pricing is the same for regular store sales.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
Tags: Meta, Steam, Valve
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scaine 2 Aug
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Makes me wonder if the entire purpose of the lawsuit was so that Wolfire Games could price their games differently on other stores without any comeback from Valve as to the practice. Was it an "unwritten rule" that your game would be thrown out of Steam if you tried to do so? I can't imagine how that would stack up in practical terms. Not many games are ever thrown out of Steam and when they are, it's for highly public reasons.

Such a weird lawsuit.
kuhpunkt 2 Aug
Quoting: scaineMakes me wonder if the entire purpose of the lawsuit was so that Wolfire Games could price their games differently on other stores without any comeback from Valve as to the practice.

They could have done that from the beginning.
Liam Dawe 2 Aug
Quoting: kuhpunkt
Quoting: scaineMakes me wonder if the entire purpose of the lawsuit was so that Wolfire Games could price their games differently on other stores without any comeback from Valve as to the practice.

They could have done that from the beginning.
It does make things a little interesting though, from a certain point of view it now gives developers a legal case to point out if it ever comes up that someone claims Valve force pricing or if Valve suddenly do tell a developer they have to match a price.
Have any other devs come forward with similar stories of coercion? Also, why the heck would Valve do this specifically for a fairly insignificant furry-punching game?

I'm not even saying Rosen is lying - he may well have had contact with a particularly crappy Valve rep who had their own fascist interpretation of the rules. I just can't see Valve doing this as official policy in any way.
Creating precedents is important, especially if it is to prevent a giant such as Valve to crush you under contractually-binding papers.

Now I'd expect it to not being specifically against Wolfire Games, nor an official thing, but a systematic yet unofficial thing.

Let's not forget a lot of people have come about Valve's image of the company as being pretty nonfactual (no hierarchy and such), so representatives interpreting in their own way the rules, or applying a set of tacit rules and making implications about them could also not being ruled out.

A lad I knew a while back did publish games on steam and offer platforms and he had the numbers for his own indie titles, Steam was dwarfing the combined other platforms. So I do get where Wolfire is going with that and I think it's good to create a precedent, but I don't have too much hope for them, especially since Valve will most likely delay the whole thing until Wolfire either drop it or break because of it.

On the other hand dropping it early would undermine Wolfire's point and may even make them look like some legal trolls.

A sad thing, considering they are some of the few that really keep in mine Linux for a full native support.
kuhpunkt 2 Aug
Quoting: rustybroomhandleI'm not even saying Rosen is lying - he may well have had contact with a particularly crappy Valve rep who had their own fascist interpretation of the rules. I just can't see Valve doing this as official policy in any way.

Chet Faliszek (no longer at Valve, but still...) already said that such a clause simply does not exist. Rosen also didn't do himself any favors when he just made the claim without any evidence.

If such a clause in the contract, he could have brought it up in the lawsuit. He didn't.

If he was told by a Valve employee that he couldn't sell his games elsewhere for less - why didn't he release those interactions?
CatKiller 2 Aug
Quoting: scaineMakes me wonder if the entire purpose of the lawsuit was so that Wolfire Games could price their games differently on other stores without any comeback from Valve as to the practice. Was it an "unwritten rule" that your game would be thrown out of Steam if you tried to do so? I can't imagine how that would stack up in practical terms. Not many games are ever thrown out of Steam and when they are, it's for highly public reasons.

Such a weird lawsuit.
Valve's rules are, essentially, "don't take the piss." This guy allegedly cornered some CSR and said, "I'm gonna take the piss," and the CSR said, "don't."

With Sweeney egging him on on Twitter, maybe he thought Valve would give him some money to go away.
Eike 2 Aug
Quoting: kuhpunkt... didn't do himself any favors when he just made the claim without any evidence.

... he could have brought it up in the lawsuit. He didn't.

Reminds me of... something. Someone. Just cannot remember what it was..... Ah, nevermind.
TheSHEEEP 2 Aug
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I mean... what else is Valve supposed to say in their statement?

Quite curious where it'll lead in the end.

Especially because one of the issues is apparently a clause one where one party claims it doesn't even exist.
If that's really the case, then... ???????
seamoose 2 Aug
Quoting: GuestTo sum up:

Wolfire Games: I want to sell my games on other game stores that still distribute the games via Steam keys, that are downloaded, installed and updated via Valve's Steam servers and which cost Valve resources to maintain, for cheaper than the prices we're selling the games on Steam itself.

Valve: Don't do that. You'll invalidate your agreement with us and we'll remove your games from the Steam store if you do.

Wolfire Games: SCREEEEEEEEEE!

That is incorrect. What Wolfire is alleging is that Valve tried to prohibit Wolfire from selling its games on other stores at a lower price than what they are priced on Steam even if Wolfire did not provide Steam keys for purchases on those other stores (e.g. DRM-free, Epic keys, etc.)

If true, I do feel that Valve is abusing its dominant status in the PC games market. I can understand the requirement that if you distribute Steam keys in other stores then you should not price your games lower than on Steam, but that's not what Wolfire is saying.
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