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In brief: Valve CEO Gabe Newell, aka Our Lord Gaben, has been ordered to testify in person in an antitrust lawsuit that accuses Valve of using Steam's dominance in the PC game distribution market to "take an extraordinarily high cut from nearly every sale that passes through its store."
Wolfire Games filed a lawsuit against Valve in April 2021 over claims that it uses Steam's position as undisputed market leader to take its large cut of sales: Valve takes 30% of all item sales up to $10 million, after which point the cut falls to 25% for sales up to $50 million, then 20% for all sales above that figure.
The original suit was dismissed without prejudice in November 2021 as the complaint did "not articulate sufficient facts to plausibly allege an antitrust injury based on that market." Wolfire was given 30 days to file another complaint to address the issues, which it did in May 2022.
Gamesindustry.biz reports that Wolfire's lawyers want to question Newell as part of the discovery process. In an order filed on November 16 in the US District Court for the Western District of Washington, the company said Newell "is uniquely positioned to testify on all aspects of [Valve's] business strategy," and that an in-person deposition "would allow [it] to adequately assess Newell's credibility."
Newell had initially asked for his deposition to be carried out remotely due to his concerns over Covid, claiming he is at risk of developing a serious illness were he to contract the virus. But the court has ruled that there is insubstantial evidence to suggest that he is at particular risk of serious illness and therefore must attend in person.
The court says that to accommodate Newell's concerns, all participants will have to wear N95 or compatible masks during his deposition. However, Newell has been informed that he will need to remove his mask while answering questions.
Newell was in New Zealand when the Covid pandemic broke out at the start of 2020, staying in the country for many months as a "Covid refugee." To thank the nation, Newell and his friends put together a free event called 'We Love Aotearoa' in Auckland. It consisted of live music, workshops and activities, virtual reality stands with Valve games, art installations, and food trucks. The Valve boss applied for permanent residency in New Zealand in October 2020 but had returned to Seattle by 2021.