With the Apple vs Epic legal battle finally, in the courtroom, Valve is queuing up to be next. The point of contention is common between the two cases; the 30% cut on every steam-based sale.
David Takes On Goliath As Wolfire Argues Valve Oversteps With Steam Domination
Wolfire Games, the developer of Overgrowth, filed an antitrust lawsuit against Valve’s PC domination. The plaintiff alleges that Valve uses its digital marketplace Steam to draw, “an extraordinarily high cut from nearly every sale that passes through its store.”
The antitrust lawsuit against Valve is fundamentally quite similar to Apple vs. Epic, involving accusations of anticompetitive practices and monopoly. The lawsuit alleges that Valve prevents other digital marketplaces from competing by lowering game prices. Valve does this by making developers not sell their games at lower prices on other storefronts.
How Exactly Does Steam Keep Anyone From Undercutting Them?
Wolfire’s founder David Rosen explains that he ran into this situation when he decided to sell Overgrowth at a discounted price on other platforms. He chose other platforms due to the low commission cut on sales as compared to Valve. The commission on Steam is 30% while on Epic Games Store and Microsoft, it's only 12%.
Rosen shared in his blog, “When I asked Valve about this plan, they replied that they would remove Overgrowth from Steam if I allowed it to be sold at a lower price anywhere, even from my own website without Steam keys and without Steam’s DRM.”
“I Believe They Are Taking Away Gamer’s Freedom”
He further added that there isn’t any doubt that developers are making a lot of money via Steam but the inability to try other platforms with lower commission percentages curtails developer’s freedom. He wrote, “I believe that Valve is taking away gamers' freedom to choose how much extra they are willing to pay to use their platform. I believe they are taking away competing stores' freedom to compete by taking advantage of their lower commission rates. I believe they are taking away developers' freedom to use different pricing models.” This is when Rosen decided to approach the courts to sort out the “walled garden” and anti-competitive policies of Valve.
However, Chet Faliszek, an ex-employee of Valve, replied to the blog and said that Valve does not interfere in pricing. Moreover, Valve also allows developers to opt for other digital market places and allow gamers and developers to make their own decisions.
However, with Valve controlling approximately 75% of the global PC gaming market, it seems that it consolidates its monopoly over others. Valve is reaping a whopping $6 billion in annual revenues thanks to its 30% cut on sales. Many competitors tried to compete with Valve by offering mega discounts to the developers but still failed. Is there some kind of uncodified law or unwritten rules that are in place when it comes to Steam? The courts will soon find out.
Stay with us for further developments.