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Valve Facing New Lawsuit Over Steam Digital Dominance


UltraMega
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EHW News Editor
713 212
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The plaintiffs say that Valve's guidelines on Steam Keys (which developers can use to sell games off-Steam, in return for pricing their game on Steam at the same level as elsewhere) violate antitrust laws. Valve says antitrust laws don't require it to offer Steam Keys in the first place, never mind require it to allow developers to undersell Steam versions of games.

The plaintiffs says that Valve imposes a pricing requirement on developers, requiring Steam versions to match the lowest price sold anywhere. Valve says the plaintiffs' evidence is anecdotal, and that asking developers to price game lower is competition, not anticompetitive.

The plaintiffs say that Valve's 30% cut on Steam sales is harmfully high. Valve says that a 30% cut is the industry standard (although it must be pointed out that recent years have seen the likes of Epic Games Store lower that cut dramatically).

WWW.IGN.COM

Update: Valve has a recent antitrust lawsuit regarding Steam to be dismissed, saying that even an...

 

 

I do hope Valve loses this one. Their pricing rules are rediculous and I'm surprised it's legal for Valve to dictate how devs price their product in other stores if you argue they don't have monopoly control, never mind that they do have monopoly control. Seems like the type of rule that only a monopoly could implement. If Steam wasn't the only store PC gamers wanted to use, devs would just avoid steam and their rule would backfire, and since Steam is a monopoly no other store game can gain traction so long no other store can compete with Steam on prices.

 

I wonder if this rule is one of the reasons games are exclusive on epic store when they release for a while, so they can sell their game without bending to Steams rules initially and offer a deal they wouldn't want to offer on Steam with the larger cut. 

Edited by UltraMega
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Some games are exclusive to Epic because Epic pays the dev for that exclusivity...that is also anti-competitive just like exclusives for xbox, playstation or the windows store.

 

And the pricing must not count sale prices, there are always games being sold for less elsewhere.

 

Borderlands 3 Ultimate Edition

Epic game store: $49.99

Humble Games: $49.99

Steam: $70.97

 

Sid Meier’s Civilization® VI Anthology

Epic game store: $49.99

Humble Games: $49.99

Steam: $98.70

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713 212
5 hours ago, Diffident said:

Some games are exclusive to Epic because Epic pays the dev for that exclusivity...that is also anti-competitive just like exclusives for xbox, playstation or the windows store.

 

And the pricing must not count sale prices, there are always games being sold for less elsewhere.

 

Borderlands 3 Ultimate Edition

Epic game store: $49.99

Humble Games: $49.99

Steam: $70.97

 

Sid Meier’s Civilization® VI Anthology

Epic game store: $49.99

Humble Games: $49.99

Steam: $98.70

Even if there is wiggle room for sales and such, it seems pretty messed up that Valve should have any say over how a game sells in other places. I think a strong argument can be made that they have monopolistic control over the PC game market to an extent since Steam is the only store with any traction that sells third party games, and if they weren't so dominant their pricing rule wouldn't make sense anyway. I mean if the Epic store had rules about how games are priced on other platforms... I doubt many devs would bother with it at all.

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I agree with the sentiments above. Plus the 30% cut on all sales has always surprised me. I mean that is a big chunk. I have never looked it up but I wonder just how much Steam makes per year through game sales... It must be a comfortable amount.

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2 hours ago, ENTERPRISE said:

I agree with the sentiments above. Plus the 30% cut on all sales has always surprised me. I mean that is a big chunk. I have never looked it up but I wonder just how much Steam makes per year through game sales... It must be a comfortable amount.

Valve is a private company so they don't disclose any sales info. That said they basically get 30% of the vast majority of PC game sales so it's gotta be a huge amount. 

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I too agree with the above, even though I absolutely love using Steam.  I refuse to run any other (although Epic has kinda goaded me into it with their freebies every week).  Why can't we just buy our games in a store on a disk of some kind like the good old days?  There's cheap USB options out there, its not like they couldn't put copyright protections on a USB drive.  Yeah, the smart enthusiasts would figure out a way to copy them, whatever.  That's ALWAYS been a thing and always will be.  Would beat the snot out of using DVD's though, and internet for rural people with slow internet.  Console users get games on basically SD Cards with the Switch if I'm not mistaken.  They could sell them in Walmart, right there with the rest of the games, I don't care.  /rant

I too hope Valve looses this one, as an avid Steam user, let's just put it that way.  They took a good thing and ruined it worse than EA does usually.  🙂

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4 hours ago, Diffident said:

Valves cut isn't even a flat 30% anymore, after a million sales or so it drops to like 20% IIRC. It's not the percentage that bothers me, it's that in order to sell on steam you have to follow their rules about pricing your product outside of steam. 

 

I remember that ign article about the steam cut, I posted it as news. That was back in the beginning of the epic store vs steam debate and before any of the anti trust lawsuits going on now had started. 

 

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2 hours ago, UltraMega said:

Valves cut isn't even a flat 30% anymore, after a million sales or so it drops to like 20% IIRC. It's not the percentage that bothers me, it's that in order to sell on steam you have to follow their rules about pricing your product outside of steam. 

 

I remember that ign article about the steam cut, I posted it as news. That was back in the beginning of the epic store vs steam debate and before any of the anti trust lawsuits going on now had started. 

 

Yes, outside of their platform, they should have no say. That is the main issue here for sure.

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Valve has filed a response with the court.  In the motion Valve has filed, Valve states the dictating of game prices only applies to Steam Keys sold on other stores.  Steam is still hosting the game and paying for the bandwidth, while not making any money on the sale of the Steam Key.

 

Quote

Steam Keys are code numbers that allow Steam-enabled games to be used on Steam even if they
were bought somewhere else. Valve gives Steam Keys to developers for free. Developers can
then sell them at retail stores or online to gamers who, for example, see a game on a store shelf
or on another online game store and want to buy it.

 

 

Quote

Plaintiffs seek to extend their Steam Keys pricing theory to non-Steam-enabled games by
claiming Valve violates antitrust rules by applying an alleged PMFN against developers who
price their games enabled for competing platforms lower than on Steam in sales having nothing
to do with Steam Keys. Plaintiffs quote a tweet from Tim Sweeney, CEO of Epic, the “leading
alternative to” Steam, CAC ¶ 254, asserting that “Valve can simply say ‘no’” if a “‘developer
wishes to sell their game for a lower price on Epic Games store than Steam,’” id. ¶¶ 11, 187. But
Mr. Sweeney’s tweet is no fact. Indeed, one of his Twitter followers called out his “disingenuous” assertion: “That clause only applies to steam KEYS sold elsewhere, not to something like a game being sold at the Epic store.” Id. ¶ 11 n.4 (reply at 2). Plaintiffs’ sole factual allegation consists of an anecdote of Valve allegedly telling one unnamed developer it should not sell its game on Steam for $5 but give away free a version enabled for Discord’s gaming platform. CAC ¶¶ 193, 246. But this one anecdote fails to allege market-wide enforcement or plausibly lead to any effect on competition.

 

You can read the entire court filing Here.

 

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, Diffident said:

Valve has filed a response with the court.  In the motion Valve has filed, Valve states the dictating of game prices only applies to Steam Keys sold on other stores.  Steam is still hosting the game and paying for the bandwidth, while not making any money on the sale of the Steam Key.

 

 

 

 

You can read the entire court filing Here.

 

This has got to be clever wording because Valve doesn't give just away steam keys for free. Somewhere along the line they take their cut. 

 

If they are saying devs can sell steam keys wherever they want that doesn't mean valve doesn't have a fee. To me it sounds like that would just mean two fees from steam plus another store. 

Edited by UltraMega
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On 30/07/2021 at 15:02, Diffident said:

Some games are exclusive to Epic because Epic pays the dev for that exclusivity...that is also anti-competitive just like exclusives for xbox, playstation or the windows store.

 

And the pricing must not count sale prices, there are always games being sold for less elsewhere.

 

Borderlands 3 Ultimate Edition

Epic game store: $49.99

Humble Games: $49.99

Steam: $70.97

 

Sid Meier’s Civilization® VI Anthology

Epic game store: $49.99

Humble Games: $49.99

Steam: $98.70

Where Epic's and Humble's prices are the same, I wonder if the game key from Humble is locked to Epic? I've bought games before from third parties that opened in certain stores by default and wouldn't work in others. Perfect example is my Witcher 3 game I got with my video card, could only be used through gog. 🤔 Edit: Ooops, I see we're talking about the Steam linked gaming keys after all. That would be why they're linked to certain stores. 👍

Edited by schuck6566
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