Just two days before Apple was sued in California to justify its 30 percent fee for the App Store – and two days after Microsoft fixed its 30 percent discount on the computer – we learn that gaming giant Valve is now facing sue against its own 30 percent reduction and alleged anti-competitive practices with its Steam PC gaming platform
“Valve is abusing its market power to ensure that game publishers have no choice but to sell most of their games through the Steam Store, where they are subject to a 30% fee from Valve,” said the independent game developer and creator of Humble Bundle Wolfire Games in a lawsuit. filed on Tuesday (via Ars Technica).
Like Epic v. Apple, the new lawsuit alleges that the platform owner uses an effective monopoly on where people run their software (there, iOS; here, Steam) to dominate and tax an entire industry (alternative app / game stores), an industry that could theoretically thrive and produce lower prices for consumers, if not for (Apple / Valve) iron grip.
Wolfire claims that Valve now controls “approximately 75 percent”
As for how Valve may be abusing his power, there is a list of complaints you may want to read in full (which is why I embed the complaint below), but the arguments seem to be:
- Any other company’s attempts to compete with Steam failed to make a dent, although many offered developers greater profit reductions, such as an 88 percent share of Epic Game Store revenue.
- Steam does not allow publishers to sell computer games and game keys for less money elsewhere
- This in turn means that competing gaming platforms cannot compete on price, which prevents them from gaining a foothold.
- Most of these competing gaming stores have largely given up, such as how EA and Microsoft brought back their games to Steam.
- This ensures that Steam remains the dominant platform because of the companies that could have become competitors come down to simply powering the Steam engine with their games or selling Steam keys
Wolfire says the Humble Bundle in particular has been a victim of Valve’s practices – the lawsuit alleges that “publishers are becoming increasingly reluctant to participate in Humble Bundle events, reducing the quantity and quality of products available to customers.” Humble Bundle, “because they feared retaliation if Humble Bundle buyers resold their steam keys on the gray market for cheap – and although Valve once worked with Humble Bundle on keyless direct integration, the lawsuit claims Valve suddenly pulled the plug on this partnership without explanation.
As you would expect, the lawsuit doesn’t lose much ink why gamers may prefer Steam to similar to EA’s Origin or Microsoft’s Windows Store beyond the simple question of price; I would say that most of Steam’s competitors are somewhat insufficient when it comes to dealing with the many desires and needs of PC gamers. But this does not justify Valve’s anti-competitive practices, assuming that these claims are true.
Valve did not respond to a request for comment.
This is not the first lawsuit filed against Valve; a group of individual game buyers filed a rather similar complaint in January and I also incorporated the new amended version of this complaint below. But this earlier complaint also blamed gaming companies along with Valve – this new case is from the gaming company itself.
Each costume hopes to gain group action status.
Whether these plaintiffs succeed against Valve or not, the pressure is clearly growing to reduce these fees for app stores in the industry, and Valve may have a harder time justifying them than most – it seems to be more dominant in gaming computer space than Apple or Google have in a smartphone, even if there are far fewer computer gamers than phone users.
Valve has also not necessarily made a big discount to game developers so far. In 2018, Valve adjusted its revenue allocation to give larger companies more money, reducing the 30 percent discount to 25 percent after the developer collected $ 10 million in sales, and to 20 percent after reaching $ 50 million. million dollars. (Apple and Google cut their discounts to 15 percent for developers with sales below $ 1 million, theoretically helping smaller developers instead of larger ones.) But the Epic Games Store only takes 12 percent, and Microsoft’s Windows Store just copying this lead by dropping its 30 percent also decreases to 12 percent.
The EU may also put additional pressure in the future; yesterday, European Commission Vice-President Margrethe Vestager revealed that she would also be “interested in the gaming app market” after concluding that Apple had violated EU antitrust laws regarding music streaming apps. The European Commission also has Valve on its radar; it fined the company earlier this year for geoblocking game sales.