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A new lawsuit was filed earlier this month in the UK that alleges Valve, owner of Steam, has been "overcharging 14 million PC gamers and abusing its dominant position in the UK".

First reported by the BBC, the claim was filed by Vicki Shotbolt, the founder and CEO of Parent Zone. Shotbolt is also on the executive board of the UK Council for Child Internet Safety and is a trustee for MILA the media literacy and information alliance.

There's even been a dedicated website set up for this lawsuit under steamyouoweus.co.uk, with Shotbolt setting up a company named Vicki Shotbolt Class Representative Limited to bring this action.

From the claim website:

Valve Corporation faces a £656 million collective action claim for overcharging 14 million PC gamers and abusing its dominant position in the UK. Valve owns and operates Steam – the largest digital distribution platform for PC games in the world.

Companies who hold a dominant position in a market are not allowed to charge excessive or anti-competitive prices. They also cannot impose other unfair trading conditions that prevent or hinder others from competing with them.

We believe Valve Corporation has been unfairly shutting out competition for PC games and in-game content, which has meant that UK customers have paid too much for these products.

Vicki Shotbolt, a leading campaigner for children’s digital rights, filed the claim, via Vicki Shotbolt Class Representative Limited, on behalf of all affected gamers at the Competition Appeal Tribunal 5 June 2024.

Vicki accuses Valve Corporation of shutting out competition in the PC gaming market by forcing game publishers to sign up to pricing restrictions that dictate the lowest price games can be sold for on rival platforms.

This has led to UK consumers paying too much for PC games and add-on content, and has enabled the gaming giant to continue charging an excessive commission – of up to 30% – to publishers.

Represented by Milberg London LLP, it's worth noting this is not their first rodeo, as they're also going after Sony for £5 billion.

Natasha Pearman, the partner leading the case, says: “Valve has a had a stranglehold on the PC games market for a long time and with this claim we’re challenging the status quo. Competition law is there to protect consumers and ensure that markets work properly. When they don’t work properly and consumers are harmed, collective actions of this kind provide consumers with a voice and a way of holding big companies, like Valve, to account. We’re delighted to be working with Vicki to seek compensation for UK consumers.”

It boils down to their three main issues that they claim:

  1. Price parity obligation clauses: We say that Valve Corporation imposes price parity clauses that restrict and prevent game developers from offering better prices on PC-games on rival platforms, limiting consumer choice and harming competition.
  2. Tying: We say that the restrictions Valve Corporation imposes, that mean the add-on content for games must also be purchased from Steam, restricts competition in the market.
  3. Excessive pricing: We argue that Valve Corporation has imposed an excessive commission, of up to 30%, charged to publishers, that resulted in inflated prices on its Steam platform.

The first point is one we've heard repeated many times before, but there's never been any proof on it. Which perhaps the Wolfire lawsuit and this may actually bring to light. An accusation doesn't necessarily mean they're right though. Something people get confused on often is Steam Keys, which are completely separate to Steam Store purchases. Valve do ask developers not to "give Steam customers a worse deal than Steam Key purchasers", but again, that's specifically for Steam Keys.

This sounds very similar to the case that Wolfire brought up against Valve in the US.

I've reached out to Valve press for any comments on it. Will update if they reply,

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
Tags: Misc, Steam, Valve
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Quoting: Nateman10004. They seem to not understand their own case. The case claims to be about overcharging gamers but the actual case details seem to point to being about overcharging developers

If true, then it would seem that China/Tencent is just MAD about paying and using their oversea UK assets to do lawfare in their interests.

They literally have done this exact thing using Epic Games as a PROXY to try to get around paying the Steam Tax.
Quoting: TheRiddickMaybe they should go after MS Windows for the constant gatekeeping shit that goes on there.
MS should have been broken up back at the turn of the century. The fix was sure in there.
30% is not excessive. Get real. Have you seen the book publishing market? Try 70%.
Pengling Jun 13
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So, where were these people when GAME was allowed to buy its only competitor, Gamestation, just because supermarkets sold FIFA and Disney shovelware? What about when Microsoft were allowed to buy Activision-Blizzard? These have all done actual damage to the marketplace - for example, right now, the few remaining GAME stores have been shuffled off into Sports Direct branches, with no signposting so unless you go into Sports Direct regularly you'd never know they're there, and they're mainly an outlet for Funko Pop! figures and Hasbro toys and board-games now, and no longer take trade-ins or have a loyalty-scheme; Within the next year or so, there will be zero national games retailer chains in the UK at all.

This all sounds very paid-off, to me - the text sounds like it's entirely about developers, and not consumers as they claim. As a consumer who ditched Nintendo for (mostly) Steam, I've been wowed by how very much lower the prices are, how very much better the selection is, how very many more options there are to get good deals (key-resellers like Fanatical, Humble, and so on), and how very good the features offered are (Proton, in particular, opens up the market to more people, since Linux is otherwise quite often overlooked; I know that there are issues with the Steam client and Nvidia, but some of that is on Nvidia's poor Linux support compared to AMD and Intel, so I can't fully blame Valve for that). It really is the best option, especially if you're budget-conscious - as many people, and especially families, now are.


Last edited by Pengling on 13 June 2024 at 12:38 am UTC
CalebQ42 Jun 13
QuoteIt boils down to their three main issues that they claim:

1. Price parity obligation clauses: We say that Valve Corporation imposes price parity clauses that restrict and prevent game developers from offering better prices on PC-games on rival platforms, limiting consumer choice and harming competition.
2. Tying: We say that the restrictions Valve Corporation imposes, that mean the add-on content for games must also be purchased from Steam, restricts competition in the market.
3. Excessive pricing: We argue that Valve Corporation has imposed an excessive commission, of up to 30%, charged to publishers, that resulted in inflated prices on its Steam platform.
1) This is bad if true. I believe there hasn't been any proof of Valve actually doing this and they have expressly denied doing it.

2) Steam already allows you to get premium currencies off platform. I doubt there's a stipulation on other DLCs, but if you're already on Steam it really doesn't make sense to put in a bunch work to allow for off-platform DLCs.

3) Games are not cheaper on EGS. I don't think it's a bad things for small developers to get more money, but trying to frame this as a charge to consumers is laughable.
I'm sort of conflicted because tbh I really love valve and like them as a company (most of the time lol)

Can someone more intelligent then a simpleton like myself just assure me.. that they're being very harsh against valve?

There's been drama before about the cut they take to sell games on their platform ect... but as a uk citizen I feel the price of the games they sell are EXACTLY the same as places like gog and epic games?

Maybe on GMG or something you can get a steam key and it's cheaper, but I don't really understand how I'm being overcharged specifically by valve.

Sorry if this post is abit stupid, just abit confused what valve has done wrong compare to any other high profile platform to buy pc games like epic or gog
faeranne Jun 13
Former game dev here: Let's tackle these one at a time.

1. Based on the last game I was involved in (this was more than 5 years ago, but in talking with the other team members, this hasn't changed at all), Valve makes 0 judgement or requirement on game releases on other stores. The only time they even remotely care is when Steam Keys are sold. This is purely because Steam Keys bypass a lot of Valve's expectations of the dev while still providing 100% of the benefits. The finances are tricky, but basically, Steam Keys are not intended to be sold on their own, and instead expected to be part of a "package deal" or other non-monetary transaction. They require that if the Steam Key is directly sold, one must provide an "equal or better deal" directly through the Steam Store. So this point is just plain wrong.

2. This is license and technical complexity, and not mandated by Valve. If you sell DLC on the store, the entitlement is tied to the steam account, but what you as the dev do with that entitlement is up to you. You are not mandated to use Steam for DLC, so long as you don't use Steam to distribute the additional DLC.

For both of these, you need only look at the example Elite: Dangerous. They sell through their own site as well as Steam. They have fluctuated the price the entire life of the product. Steam has not always been the best deal. But if you got at Steam Key, you got the same deal as what was on the Steam Store at the time. The Elite Dangerous upgrades (Horizons and Odyssey) were Steam DLC, but once you bought them, the DLC was attached to your Elite Dangerous account, and can be used on any system with Elite installed, regardless of store.

3. This is an increasingly common argument. I personally have no stake in this one, but it does seem like every company attempting to buck this trend is doing so at the cost of everything else, which is not sustainable long term.

That's my take on the details from the standpoint of a developer who once was involved in a game released on steam. Now if they will win the lawsuit? no idea. Often lawsuits never make it to court, and we never learn if it was ever legit or not.

(Note that I am working on a new game here soon, so these points are made from the standpoint of someone who has no non-discolsure requirements for now. Keep an eye out here for any removals.)
CatKiller Jun 13
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Quoting: faeranneThey require that if the Steam Key is directly sold, one must provide an "equal or better deal" directly through the Steam Store. So this point is just plain wrong.

As an additional point, they don't require exactly the same price even for the sale of keys that they give out for free. It's "comparable offer, within a reasonable amount of time." "Don't take the piss," basically.

Quoting: ValveYou should use Steam Keys to sell your game on other stores in a similar way to how you sell your game on Steam.
It is important that you don’t give Steam customers a worse deal than Steam Key purchasers.


Steam Keys shouldn't be given away for free if you aren't also offering the same deal (i.e., give the game away for free) to Steam customers. This includes giveaways for promotional purposes, unless that giveaway is very small (under 100 Steam Keys). If you want to run a giveaway on Steam, please reach out to us and submit a ticket.

It's OK to run a discount for Steam Keys on different stores at different times as long as you plan to give a comparable offer to Steam customers within a reasonable amount of time.

(emphasis in original)
the founder and CEO of "parent zone" ...

i think there we have it, im sure valve charges well but i got tekken for like €40 on cdkeys (totally legit) so its not like they dont allow competition they just use the store for the impatient. Whos responsibility would it be for not opening up a can of google and search for deals ?

the nanny state perhaps ?

A ceo of a thing that has worried parents in the name , a classic formula of trol lawyering and taking on a company like Valve, not crApple, miCrotter or crudBog ?

Who's gonna get the 656 mille anyway ? "the mistreated children" or the ceo's budget for the next suit ?

case dismissed ... theres actual crime and stuff, next time sue microsoft for having a monopoly on Ossseses and not having a monopoly b/c its 4500 companies ...

case dismissed

case dismissed, we dont have time for this and its clearly out to make someones name and pension fund

I hear a lot of complaints about it too despite that for all their freebies Epic cant even take them on and everyone WANTS to be published on steam store and as we (the cat star) poned in paragraph 1 bis 1

who is responsible for not opening a can of google and looking for legit key deals, its not like Valve forbids or prohibits competition by resellers ... i barely ever buy directly from the store

dismissed ?

closed + a 100k fine for obstruction and maluse of resources of justice departments

Pengling Jun 13
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Quoting: Doktor-MandrakeI'm sort of conflicted because tbh I really love valve and like them as a company (most of the time lol)

Can someone more intelligent then a simpleton like myself just assure me.. that they're being very harsh against valve?

There's been drama before about the cut they take to sell games on their platform ect... but as a uk citizen I feel the price of the games they sell are EXACTLY the same as places like gog and epic games?

Maybe on GMG or something you can get a steam key and it's cheaper, but I don't really understand how I'm being overcharged specifically by valve.

Sorry if this post is abit stupid, just abit confused what valve has done wrong compare to any other high profile platform to buy pc games like epic or gog
You're not the only UK customer left utterly confused by this! As I said above, I get way better deals using Steam than I ever did on any other platform (aside from the Commodore 64 in the early 1990s, which had similar pricing and discounts, in relative terms).
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