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In the ongoing saga of the Wolfire versus Valve lawsuit, which is continuing, we've been able to see a funny little look behind the curtain and Tim Sweeney was not happy with Valve.

Thanks to the work from Simon Carless of GameDiscoverCo which has a great round-up of what's going on (definitely worth a read for some backstory here), we've managed to see some emails between Epic's Tim Sweeney to Valve's Gabe Newell and Scott Lynch.

Back in 2017 an email from Newell to Sweeney asked "Anything we doing to annoy you? We’re guessing Sean Jenkins public dumbness might be part of it.", which is in reference to a leaked post where a Valve's Jenkins talked about restricting Steam keys. Sweeney replied to mention they've "never heard of Sean Jenkins" and then goes off talking about the 30% platform fee Valve charges and how it's "no longer justifiable" but there was a "good case for them in the early days" but due to scale costs "have been driven down".

Sweeney's point here is that Valve make a lot of money from that 30% cut and goes on to say "If you subtract out the top 25 games on Steam, I bet Valve made more profit from most of the next 1000 than the developer themselves made" and complains that when you add together Valve's cut, marketing and so on that the cut for developers is small.

After that we don't see anything until November 2018 in the documents where Sweeney emailed Newell again and also Valve's Erik Johnson, notifying Valve about the plans to announce the Epic Games Store with their lower cut of sales from developers. Sweeney also mentions here about their issues with Apple, and how Sweeney wants Apple to open up, and hopes that Valve would make a "timely move" to change their rates taken from developers. Sweeney also notes the opposite, hoping Valve don't have any "unannounced revenue-sharing changes that favored big publishers over indies" as it would basically tell the likes of Apple that they "can keep their closed platforms and just pay off big publishers to stay silent".

It was only a few days later (quite cheekily then), that Valve suddenly publicly announced their plan to reduce their take for the top-selling Steam games. Naturally, this annoyed Sweeney rather a lot, as the next email confirmed the Epic Games Store announcement was going live the next day and Sweeney says to Valve "Right now, you assholes are telling the world that the strong and powerful get special terms, while 30% is for the little people. We're all in for a prolonged battle if Apple tries to keep their monopoly and 30% by cutting backroom deals with big publishers to keep them quiet. Why not give ALL developers a better deal? What better way is there to convince Apple quickly that their model is now totally untenable?".

The only reply to this we can see was from Valve COO (Chief Operating Officer) Scott Lynch sent internally at Valve to Johnson and Newell that simply says "You mad bro?".

You can only imagine how truly mad Sweeney would be if they saw that with Valve just basically laughing it off completely. Well, Sweeney can see it now.

As we know from Valve when they released their 2023 yearly report, they're continuing to print money and repeatedly break user records and so the Epic Games Store hasn't seemingly made much of a dent at all. While Epic Games continue to try to pull developers over to their store with various exclusivity deals and constant weekly free games.

Update note: Clarified the "You mad bro?" email was internal at Valve, not to Sweeney directly.

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I am the owner of GamingOnLinux. After discovering Linux back in the days of Mandrake in 2003, I constantly came back to check on the progress of Linux until Ubuntu appeared on the scene and it helped me to really love it. You can reach me easily by emailing GamingOnLinux directly. Find me on Mastodon.
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BTRE Mar 14
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This is a reasonable, civil comment because Liam expects nothing but the best from GOL's community going by his words elsewhere ... unlike the exchange of these overpaid suits. I love it when lawsuits force disclosure of the inner workings of the industry; everything is needlessly secretive and everyone seems obsessed with having a degree of control over their image; everyone would be better off if there was more transparency in general, with things like salaries, working conditions, sales, publisher contracts, and more were known. Instead, the crumbs we get are largely either due to bragging/spin or because of courts compelling the release of information.

Last edited by BTRE on 14 March 2024 at 3:51 pm UTC
bisbyx Mar 14
Proton-GE has fixes in it to apply to EGS. EGS is only usable on linux because of Valve (and Mr Eggroll, but either way, not Epic themselves).

There's a whole other suite of things Steam provides (forums, guides, mod support, screenshot storage, cross-device save syncing) on top of "Im able to play games on linux AT ALL because of Valve". 30% might be a bit much for a store. But it isn't necessarily too much for a store + community platform combo.

Plus there are the added benefits of increased visibility, ease of use, and additional sales. Games like Diablo 4 and Guild Wars 2 didn't go to Steam after their release to lose money. Those are games that already have their own launchers and don't need Valve. They wound up on steam because even with a 30% cut taken out, it was still worth it for the increase in sales.

EGS didn't even have a shopping cart for a year. It's not even a good storefront, much less a community platform/game manager.

edit: and meanwhile, Fortnite money is paying for exclusivity and making it harder for me to play games. Tim Sweeney has always been concerned about the DEVELOPER experience (eg, getting paid) and not at all for the CONSUMER experience. Steam improves consumer experience and charges the devs for it, EGS stifles consumer experience, but hey, the devs get a few more dollars.

Last edited by bisbyx on 14 March 2024 at 3:51 pm UTC
I stick with Steam because they actually have Linux support. If epic games started implementing that, I'd still go with Steam, because they have my trust.
Linux_Rocks Mar 14
The Epic Games Store sucks and Tim Sweeney is (or has long since become) a bitch. I'm pissed at Valve for how shitty the Steam Client is right now (especially in Linux). But they're a much better storefront, and still do plenty of great work for Linux as well. After Cliffy B left Epic, I no longer cared about what they did nearly as much anymore. Plus I hate Fortnite and the like too. I take the few free games from Epic that I like and get the DLC, but I've only bought the Telltale Batman games pack from them on sale and with a voucher.
nenoro Mar 14
Stick to Steam because linux support

Epic did release EOS linux support but their fault for not adding linux support with old version of easy anti-cheat

When epic touches anything, they tend to turn into cash shop and micro transaction.

Also the store isn't incredible, steam has more stuff if you turn off NSFW games
Liam Dawe Mar 14
Update note: Clarified the "You mad bro?" email was internal at Valve, not to Sweeney directly.
williamjcm Mar 14
Quoting: bisbyxThere's a whole other suite of things Steam provides (forums, guides, mod support, screenshot storage, cross-device save syncing) on top of "Im able to play games on linux AT ALL because of Valve". 30% might be a bit much for a store. But it isn't necessarily too much for a store + community platform combo.
And don't forget all of the hardware R&D and production, which is also funded by that cut.

Quoting: bisbyxEGS didn't even have a shopping cart for a year.
It's worse than that. It took Epic three years to implement it.

Last edited by williamjcm on 14 March 2024 at 4:15 pm UTC
Ehvis 8 years Mar 14
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The "you mad bro" is not entirely unjustified if you think about Epic trying to set up a competing store to Steam after almost 15 years of growth with only Fortnite as a basis. It also demonstrates that throwing lots of cash at it is not enough. Of course the fundamental problem with Epic is that they don't put the customers "first". They've been selling themselves to devs and publishers with only minimal effort to serve the actual customers.

Had to look up what the wolfire was. Weird one. The claim still seems to contradict itself.
Dukrous Mar 14
  • Supporter
I have lost so much respect for Epic Games and Tim Sweeney specifically. Every one of these fights is because he doesn't want to share a cut of Fortnite's income despite using all of these platforms built by other people to advertise and sell Fortnite. He dresses it up as fighting for the little guy, but EGS plays the same bullshit exclusivity and big partner games, so it's all just two-faced nonsense from Tim.
kuhpunkt Mar 14
I get calling other people assholes behind their backs... but directly sending them such an email? Oh Tim.
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