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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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30 comments
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Quoting: CatKiller
Quoting: TheRiddickI think eventually however Valve will need to make it so Indie developers can pay less on their platform, maybe they can tie it to the release of Source3.0 engine? I don't know...
Most games on Steam are indies. If Valve make things more expensive for the big guys then they'll pull out (rather than, say, EA starting to put their things on Steam again) and the platform suffers. That's why, when they did do a price cut, it was the games that sold lots of copies that benefitted and not the squillions of tiny games.
Let alone that Valve is the only company that allows putting ANY game. TBH more than half of the indie games won't be accepted in other stores because they are just half-done games. I don't see any other store having the half of the game's Steam has just because of the open-door policies of Valve, but TBH if you want to be treated like the big ones, release a game that actually looks complete. Do not mention Cyberbug 2077.

But you think a game like Hades has that sort of worry? It was a good indie game that sold millions on Steam, so they got the lower cut. Valheim too, another amazing indie game, got the cut. Do you want to get a lower cut? do a good game that sells.

But people want indie devs with games with less than 50k copies to get the AAA treatment,lol.
kuhpunkt 3 Aug
Quoting: rustybroomhandle
Quoting: kuhpunkt
Quoting: rustybroomhandle
Quoting: kuhpunkt
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?

Weeeeeell, that's only sort of correct. There's no such clause in the contract, but it is mentioned in the developer guidelines document. The latter is not a binding legal agreement though, but can be the subject of coercion and therefore can be part of the law suit.

Where is this?

When you get Steam Partnered (as I am) you have to agree to a contract, but on the partner web site there are pages with some guidelines.

And does it say ANYWHERE that you can't sell your games for less money (NOT Steam keys)?
Quoting: kuhpunkt
Quoting: rustybroomhandle
Quoting: kuhpunkt
Quoting: rustybroomhandle
Quoting: kuhpunkt
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?

Weeeeeell, that's only sort of correct. There's no such clause in the contract, but it is mentioned in the developer guidelines document. The latter is not a binding legal agreement though, but can be the subject of coercion and therefore can be part of the law suit.

Where is this?

When you get Steam Partnered (as I am) you have to agree to a contract, but on the partner web site there are pages with some guidelines.

And does it say ANYWHERE that you can't sell your games for less money (NOT Steam keys)?

The mentioned text only applies to Steam keys.


Last edited by rustybroomhandle on 3 August 2021 at 7:28 am UTC
kuhpunkt 3 Aug
Quoting: rustybroomhandle
Quoting: kuhpunkt
Quoting: rustybroomhandle
Quoting: kuhpunkt
Quoting: rustybroomhandle
Quoting: kuhpunkt
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?

Weeeeeell, that's only sort of correct. There's no such clause in the contract, but it is mentioned in the developer guidelines document. The latter is not a binding legal agreement though, but can be the subject of coercion and therefore can be part of the law suit.

Where is this?

When you get Steam Partnered (as I am) you have to agree to a contract, but on the partner web site there are pages with some guidelines.

And does it say ANYWHERE that you can't sell your games for less money (NOT Steam keys)?

The mentioned text only applies to Steam keys.

And this isn't about Steam keys. It's about whether Rosen could sell his games on other stores for less money. He claims that he's not allowed to do that. He fails to provide evidence for that claim.
Quoting: kuhpunkt
Quoting: rustybroomhandle
Quoting: kuhpunkt
Quoting: rustybroomhandle
Quoting: kuhpunkt
Quoting: rustybroomhandle
Quoting: kuhpunkt
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?

Weeeeeell, that's only sort of correct. There's no such clause in the contract, but it is mentioned in the developer guidelines document. The latter is not a binding legal agreement though, but can be the subject of coercion and therefore can be part of the law suit.

Where is this?

When you get Steam Partnered (as I am) you have to agree to a contract, but on the partner web site there are pages with some guidelines.

And does it say ANYWHERE that you can't sell your games for less money (NOT Steam keys)?

The mentioned text only applies to Steam keys.

And this isn't about Steam keys. It's about whether Rosen could sell his games on other stores for less money. He claims that he's not allowed to do that. He fails to provide evidence for that claim.

Correct.
mirv 3 Aug
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Quoting: orochi_kyoThe lack of malice around here is astounding. This guy just literally dares to present a lawsuit with ZERO evidence and people are just guessing what could be the motivation of this person nobody knew about before this lawsuit.

Lack of malice around here is what makes it a more pleasant place to hang around. I'm interested in discussion, not hatred, even if this is the Internet.

Anything public surrounding this matter will not have full details, and instead is oriented towards essentially PR messaging rather than legal ones. There will be a bit more back & forth before everything settles in or out of court.

I suspect the main intent was to have Valve publically state that games are free to be sold cheaper elsewhere, and to generate discussion around the topic, which is obviously happening.
Shmerl 3 Aug
Quoting: scaineWas it an "unwritten rule" that your game would be thrown out of Steam if you tried to do so?

It could be an antitrust issue if they do that (i.e. some kind of price fixing).


Last edited by Shmerl on 3 August 2021 at 8:43 pm UTC
slapin 4 Aug
  • Supporter Plus
But why lawers even allow such lawsuit to happen? Wolfire Games will just lose money and it is a lawer's duty to tell them so.
As for Valve they do a good thing by a motion to dismiss, they save Wolfire Games money in hope they will sober up.
Quoting: orochi_kyowhat could be the motivation of this person nobody knew about before this lawsuit.

Either take your medication, or look up who Wolfire Games are, both as indie and people publishing native Linux games. They have been in the game to make games since 2003, longer than some people that reply in this thread even lived. Those may not be blockbuster sellers, but they are doing a marathons in an industry focused solely on sprints. They did help quite a few people to look into Linux and MacOS native builds, including Valve, if my memory serves me right.

All in all, malice or not, the longer I look at it, the worst it look, in every aspect: the claims are flimsy at best, the outcome will dent their reputation in the small world of video games, they are bound to waste money.

A shame, I'll be honest, tho having rustybroomhandle give some insight as a steam partner is enlightening.
Protektor 7 Aug
Valve did have a contract at one point with developers that said if you put a game on another store at a lower price then they had to adjust the price to be the same on Steam. This wasn't sales but normal everyday price. This is not conjecture. I actually read the contract that Valve made developers sign to sell their games on Steam.

Basically if you published a game on Steam Valve said you could not sell it for less on other stores and under cut the Steam store. Which sounds totally illegal to me. If I as a developer want to sell a game on say Epic for $25, since Epic only takes 13% cut then sell it on Steam for $35 since Valve takes a 30% cut then it should be totally legal. As a developer if I want my take home pay to be the same everywhere then I should have that right. Valve also charges developers to convert currency to their local currency as well. So if you want to jack up your game price to cover all those fees and the cut then a developer should be allowed to do it.

The fact that Valve tries to tell developers that they can not sell their game at a lower price anywhere else is total garbage. Yes, Valve is using their monopoly position to harm consumers and developers when they do this.


Last edited by Protektor on 7 August 2021 at 6:16 pm UTC
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