Valve will face antitrust litigation surrounding Steam

Daniel Sims

Posts: 448   +18
Staff
What just happened? A group of consumers and game developers filed a lawsuit against Valve last year, accusing the company of using Steam's dominance in PC game distribution to control pricing. This week, a federal judge allowed part of the case to move forward.

On Monday, Seattle Judge John C. Coughenour rejected Valve's bid to end an antitrust case over Steam. Coughenour said it is plausible that Valve is abusing Steam's top position in the market to stop developers from lowering their prices elsewhere.

The core of this case concerns why games tend to have the same price on Steam and other stores despite some of them, like the Epic Games Store, taking smaller cuts. Publishers like Microsoft and EA sell games on Steam and their storefronts for the same price, despite not needing to pay anyone a commission on the stores they own.

A year ago, one of the main plaintiffs, Wolfire Games, claimed this is because Valve threatens developers with removal from Steam.

The plaintiffs assert that the Steamworks documentation contains a clause that enforces price parity between Steam and other storefronts. Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney agrees. However, only the section on selling Steam keys outside of Steam suggests price equality. "We ask you to treat Steam customers no worse than customers buying Steam keys outside of Steam," it reads. Anonymous sources told Ars Technica the same.

The case against Valve seems to lose some weight when examining PC games that aren't on Steam. Ars found that such games almost always sold for the same price on Epic's store and consoles despite Epic charging a lower commission than the console manufacturers.

A similar case is seen with Ubisoft, which didn't lower its prices when it stopped selling new games on Steam. Free of Valve's sales cut, Ubisoft seems to have simply pocketed the difference when selling games like Assassin's Creed Valhalla and Far Cry 6 on its store and Epic's.

Nonetheless, Coughenour has allowed the plaintiffs' price-parity accusations to proceed. "These allegations are sufficient to plausibly allege unlawful conduct," he said.

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m4a4

Posts: 2,887   +3,695
TechSpot Elite
However, only the section on selling Steam keys outside of Steam suggests price equality. "We ask you to treat Steam customers no worse than customers buying Steam keys outside of Steam," it reads. Anonymous sources told Ars Technica the same.
Wait, are only the Steam keys (which they take no commission, but still host the game files) where they can point to for antitrust? No emails from Valve threatening removal?

Unless they have some solid proof that it happened outside of this context, this case seems like it'll be a giant waste of money...
 

Uncle Al

Posts: 8,752   +7,668
Of course we are only hearing the tip of this story. I'm guessing there is a LOT of evidence to support their position, after all with the cost of litigation these days they can't just toss out the case without some reasonable expectation of a return on the ruling(s).
 

NeoMorpheus

Posts: 1,123   +2,248
Given how crazy this world is today and we do have the best government and officials that money can literally buy, I would not be surprised that money exchanged hands for this to happen.
 

eTheBlack

Posts: 26   +105
Of course we are only hearing the tip of this story. I'm guessing there is a LOT of evidence to support their position, after all with the cost of litigation these days they can't just toss out the case without some reasonable expectation of a return on the ruling(s).

I doubt that. Makes no sense. Why are nonsteam games same price then? Im gonna say its bullshit untill we heard more and proper evidence.
 

Puiu

Posts: 5,543   +4,489
TechSpot Elite
Wait, are only the Steam keys (which they take no commission, but still host the game files) where they can point to for antitrust? No emails from Valve threatening removal?

Unless they have some solid proof that it happened outside of this context, this case seems like it'll be a giant waste of money...

Valve never enforced price parity and it was mainly to keep steam keys in check. I'm assuming that this is just Epic giving some devs a push from behind and paying for their "expenses". They don't care if they win or not, most people just read headlines.

The Wolfire claim from last year was proved to be just a small dev trying to manipulate opinion. It didn't work, people caught on really fast that he was a fraud.
 
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FaTaL

Posts: 78   +119
Just a bunch of whiny liberals who attacking the #1 player in the game because they want a piece of the action.

stfu and go home
 

Puiu

Posts: 5,543   +4,489
TechSpot Elite
Antitrust legislation is a load of bs to begin with, if you don't like Steam, don't use it.
It's good in many cases, but unfortunately it can also be misused. Anyway, Valve will win this easily because the TOS is pretty clear on when the "same price policy" applies.
 

TheBigT42

Posts: 651   +671
"Publishers like Microsoft and EA sell games on Steam and their storefronts for the same price, despite not needing to pay anyone a commission on the stores they own."

Umm....it is because Microsoft and EA will make a higher profit when they sell games on their own stores.
 

BobHome

Posts: 141   +59
I doubt that. Makes no sense. Why are nonsteam games same price then? Im gonna say its bullshit untill we heard more and proper evidence.
Could it be: Steam takes $ of each sale so companies sell at the same price to keep $$ for themselves to compensate for how much Steam takes from them?
Gotta recoup the profits somewhere....
 

terzaerian

Posts: 1,262   +1,751
Valve never enforced price parity and it was mainly to keep steam keys in check. I'm assuming that this is just Epic giving some devs a push from behind and paying for their "expenses". They don't care if they win or not, most people just read headlines.
Yeah, I'd believe it. Tim Sweeney and his band of scumbags were probably taken aback by how pissed people got with bought exclusives, so he's throwing his China money around a different way instead.