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Wolfire versus Valve antitrust lawsuit gets dismissed

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Well this was very much expected wasn't it? A judge has ruled in the case of Wolfire versus Valve to dismiss the case.

As a brief reminder of what's been going on - Wolfire Games took Valve to court over a couple of things like: the 30% cut Valve take, and an apparent clause that forces developers match their prices on Steam to other stores if they release their game elsewhere. Valve of course moved to have it dismissed and now a ruling has been passed down.

In the new filing on November 19, the judge has dismissed and denied the case in part, giving Wolfire leave to amend their case, which going by the documentation Wolfire requested and it has been granted, so we might see Wolfire back again with an amended case at some point (they have 30 days).

Going over why it was dismissed, the ruling makes it pretty clear, mentioning that Valve's store fees have remained a constant, even with competition and even when they weren't the "dominant" force in the market. It additionally mentions an older case with Sommers v. Apple, where Apple had a 99 cent music download fee:

"There, as here, the price remained the same throughout, even during periods of intense competition in the marketplace."

It also notes that other stores have charged less than Valve and failed:

"The market reality, at least as plead in the CAC, is that, in spite of Defendant’s 'supracompetitive' fee, others who charge less have failed, even though they had significant resources at their disposal."

When looking to the footer notes, the filing brings up the "substantial" consumer base on Steam and favoured features on Steam, noting the backlash that generates when a developer chooses to release elsewhere and not on Steam. It wasn't named directly but they're hinting at things like the Epic Store here, which is interesting to see it used like this, so it's actually clearly helped Valve's defence here. Competition is good, obviously.

On the subject of the apparent most favoured nation clause, which is what Wolfire claimed Valve used to force prices to remain the same on Steam as other stores, the documents state the complaint lacks the allegations to actually back it up. Not only that but this too:

"If anything, the facts provided by the CAC, at least with respect to output, suggest the opposite—a consistent increase in the number of games available in the market and on the Steam Platform."

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
Tags: Meta, Steam, Valve
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72 comments
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TheSHEEEP 20 Nov
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Bad for devs, good for corporations.
So yes, that was to be expected.

30% cut is and remains too much for what little work Valve has "per unit sold"/per game hosted and for most devs not using what "additional value services" Valve provides, but probably just something devs will have to arrange themselves with - or keep out of Steam, which some successfully do.

About the clause, well that's just weird. Why even make a claim like that if you can't back it up?


Last edited by TheSHEEEP on 20 November 2021 at 1:26 pm UTC
Linas 20 Nov
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It's easy to judge the 30% cut as "too much", but maintaining all the infrastructure is not free. Also Valve is financing a lot of development work in the Linux world: Mesa, Proton, kernel drivers, etc., which benefits people who don't even use Steam.

I am not saying that Valve is some sort of altruistic charity, they are still a for-profit business. But it's not like they are sitting on their pile of money either.
It's perfectly fine to like or dislike the 30%, but imo there's no legal grounds to sue over it.
The_Aquabat 20 Nov
In burger land anyone can sue anyone for any reason.
pb 20 Nov
Apparently it pays off to be consistent.
jrt 20 Nov
I don't think there is anything wrong with taking 30%. They don't have a monopoly, so they can set the prices and if you don't like them you can still use gog, itch or your own launcher. Ubisoft, League of Legends, Overwatch, Fortnite,... seem all to do fine without steam.
Also, as a Linux user, I don't buy games that do not run on my system. Windows only games that run through proton are therefore sales that wouldn't have happened without Valve's work. Keeping 70% vs. no sale at all sounds like a good deal to me.
TheSHEEEP 20 Nov
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Quoting: LinasIt's easy to judge the 30% cut as "too much", but maintaining all the infrastructure is not free.
I actually work in this field and no, it isn't free. But you don't need 30% for that. Not even remotely.
15% would be much closer to cover maintenance and still have a small profit.

Quoting: LinasAlso Valve is financing a lot of development work in the Linux world: Mesa, Proton, kernel drivers, etc., which benefits people who don't even use Steam.
This is not an argument about if they are making good use of their income, I'd say they do.
It's an argument about if developers should be the ones to pay for all of Valve's extracurricular efforts.

As a developer, if I sell something on a storefront, I'm fine paying the maintenance cost of what I actually use and a bit extra for the storefront's profit - but anything beyond that I'd not be okay with.

Quoting: rustybroomhandleIt's perfectly fine to like or dislike the 30%, but imo there's no legal grounds to sue over it.
That's probably true.
As long as most are willing to pay the cut, it won't change.
CatKiller 20 Nov
Quoting: TheSHEEEPIt's an argument about if developers should be the ones to pay for all of Valve's extracurricular efforts.
Developers aren't paying for anything, customers are. The $100 that developers pay is minimalistic gatekeeping, it doesn't fund anything. If developers don't want to make use of the benefits that Valve provides they can always just use Itch and take up to 100% of the money that customers pay.
kuhpunkt 20 Nov
Quoting: CatKillerThe $100 that developers pay is minimalistic gatekeeping, it doesn't fund anything.

The $100 go to charity.
TheSHEEEP 20 Nov
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Quoting: CatKillerDevelopers aren't paying for anything, customers are.
That's semantics, really.
I'd say customers give 100% of the money to the developers, which have to forward 30% of it to Valve. Or customers give 100% to Valve, which withhold 30% from the developer - that's probably more correct.
Either way, developers lose 30% of what the customers were paying for their game. The developers are the ones losing more money in that scenario than they should.
Keep in mind that taxes go on top of that, in the EU that's about 20% gone additionally (unless you add 20% to the price in VAT countries, which I don't think anyone really does).
So from the get-go you lose 50% of value. Ouch. I'd be pissed about that, too.

Did Valve develop or market that game? No. They host its data and provide some (good) service around it - which is fair to compensate, of course, but 1/3rd is excessive. 1/4th or 5th would be much more reasonable, you don't have to do the lowballing that Epic does to just cover the expenses (of the hosting/service).


Last edited by TheSHEEEP on 20 November 2021 at 5:02 pm UTC
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