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Old May 1, 2021, 07:38 PM   #1
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Lazy8s
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Arrow Humble Bundle Creator suing Valve

https://www.theverge.com/2021/5/1/22...cut-epic-apple

Quote:
“Valve abuses its market power to ensure game publishers have no choice but to sell most of their games through the Steam Store, where they are subject to Valve’s 30% toll,” argues indie game developer and Humble Bundle creator Wolfire Games, in a lawsuit filed Tuesday (via Ars Technica).

Much like Epic v. Apple, the new suit argues that a platform owner is using an effective monopoly over the place where people run their software (there, iOS; here, Steam) to dominate and tax an entire separate industry (alternative app / game stores), an industry that could theoretically flourish and produce lower prices for consumers if not for (Apple’s / Valve’s) iron grip.

Wolfire claims that Valve now controls “approximately 75 percent” of the entire PC gaming market, reaping an estimated $6 billion in annual revenue as a result from that 30 percent fee alone — over $15 million per year per Valve employee, assuming the company still has somewhere in the vicinity of the 360 employees it confirmed having five years ago.
That's a lot of money....
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Old May 1, 2021, 07:57 PM   #2
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I think this lawsuit holds much more ground than the Epic vs Apple one.

At the same time, Valve demands that 30% because they invested money in application development, and were the pioneers of the digital store you see today, and the multitude of stores that have tried so hard to mimic Steam and failed.
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Old May 1, 2021, 09:15 PM   #3
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If this part of the lawsuit is actually true, that is a scummy practice of Valve

Quote:
Valve has actively enforced this provision against game publishers that were selling their games for lower prices elsewhere. In response to oneinquiry from a game publisher, for example, Valve explained:

“We basically see any selling of the game on PC, Steam key or not, as a part of the same shared PC market-so even if you weren’t using Steam keys, we’d just choose to stop selling a game if it was always running discounts of 75% off on one store but 50% off on ours. . . .That stays true, even for DRM-free sales or sales on a store with its own keys like UPLAY or Origin.”

also this

Quote:
Valve has also threatened publishers that offered lower prices on other platforms, insisting that customers using the Steam Store should get a similar deal or else Valve may remove the publisher’s games from the Steam Gaming Platform altogether. Valve has also interrogated publishers about their deals on smaller platforms like Humble Bundle or Discord that offer lower commission rates than Steam. For example, Valve contacted publishers who released their games at a lower price on those competing platforms to demandsimilar deals on Steam. Because of Valve’s pressure tactics, publishers were forced to revise their deals with Humble Bundle and Discord or withdraw their games from those platforms all together
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Old May 1, 2021, 10:38 PM   #4
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Valve was always a scummy company since they started Steam.

They don't even talk about Half Life 3. What a kick in the teeth for Half Life supporters.
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Old May 2, 2021, 12:15 AM   #5
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LOL why is any of that scummy? ALL of the brick and mortor stores have done that exact practice since the beginning of video games. In fact most retail stores do that. In fact most of the other digital stores do that too... that is so stupid.

Also, im pretty sick of hearing that steam has a monopoly... it literally does not, it also does not hold exclusives nor ban anyone from selling on the myriad of other stores.

Apple for inctance. Has a literal monopoly. It lso pays fines for it. Microsoft has in the past paid many fines for having a monopoly. Though they are doing a lot better on that front these days. Steam does not have a monopoly.
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Old May 2, 2021, 12:27 AM   #6
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We'll see what happens but I'm sceptical about some of that. I regularly buy games from other store which suggests they aren't enforcing prices that well.


Additionally does anybody know a game that has bee removed from Steam for being cheaper else where? It seem like the kind of thing that would have been all over the games press.


Also, how do you break a monopoly where people threaten to boycott games that aren't on Steam?


I don't doubt that Steam has bad practices because that's unavoidable where there is big business, I'm less certain that much can be done about it.
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Old May 2, 2021, 12:44 AM   #7
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Don’t care anymore. They can keep up the dog fighting. I bought like 4 games on steam last year. Similarly the year before. Steam is dead to me and if it stays that way I won’t lose sleep over it. As long as I can keep playing my games on it though lol.
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Old May 2, 2021, 06:04 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by theshadowcult View Post
LOL why is any of that scummy? ALL of the brick and mortor stores have done that exact practice since the beginning of video games. In fact most retail stores do that. In fact most of the other digital stores do that too... that is so stupid.

Also, im pretty sick of hearing that steam has a monopoly... it literally does not, it also does not hold exclusives nor ban anyone from selling on the myriad of other stores.

Apple for inctance. Has a literal monopoly. It lso pays fines for it. Microsoft has in the past paid many fines for having a monopoly. Though they are doing a lot better on that front these days. Steam does not have a monopoly.
It's kind of hilarious because if you think about it, what Epic does is more scummy than anything else by buying games to stay exclusive on their garbage application for a year. Steam may ask for 30%, but at least they aren't making games exclusive on their platform. The developers have a choice. I do agree that the choice to not sell on Steam is a bad idea due to how large the userbase is, and how far ahead Steam is as an application compared to literally everyone else .. but that's not something I can blame Valve for good application development.
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Old May 2, 2021, 06:58 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by John C Flett View Post
We'll see what happens but I'm sceptical about some of that. I regularly buy games from other store which suggests they aren't enforcing prices that well.


Additionally does anybody know a game that has bee removed from Steam for being cheaper else where? It seem like the kind of thing that would have been all over the games press.


Also, how do you break a monopoly where people threaten to boycott games that aren't on Steam?


I don't doubt that Steam has bad practices because that's unavoidable where there is big business, I'm less certain that much can be done about it.
I think we'll see a lot of this answered during the course of the lawsuit. Unless of course Valve settles with him out of court.

On the one hand I wouldn't be surprised if they did, but on the other, I'm sure Valve has plenty enough spare cash to tie this up in the process, for quite some time.
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Old May 2, 2021, 07:34 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theshadowcult View Post
LOL why is any of that scummy? ALL of the brick and mortor stores have done that exact practice since the beginning of video games. In fact most retail stores do that. In fact most of the other digital stores do that too... that is so stupid.

Also, im pretty sick of hearing that steam has a monopoly... it literally does not, it also does not hold exclusives nor ban anyone from selling on the myriad of other stores.

Apple for inctance. Has a literal monopoly. It lso pays fines for it. Microsoft has in the past paid many fines for having a monopoly. Though they are doing a lot better on that front these days. Steam does not have a monopoly.
Scummy because they still act as a brick and mortar store.

All the money we were supposed to save by eliminating packaging and DVD's we never did.
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Old May 2, 2021, 07:47 AM   #11
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Prices are going to remain the same no matter how low the cut gets.
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Old May 2, 2021, 09:44 AM   #12
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Prices are going to remain the same no matter how low the cut gets.
This.

These complaints come wrapped up saying they fight for consumer fairness, but none of them care. Developers have choices on where to put their games and they aren't forced to be on Steam, but Steam has proven to increase sales. That's proof they do a better job in a free market, not proof of a monopoly.

Since Valve is a private company with no reason to open its books to the public, I can't help but think this suit is either a ploy to force Valve to publicize their numbers, or sway public sentiment towards Humble (or maybe they hope for some settlement cash).
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Old May 2, 2021, 10:12 AM   #13
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Isn't this how capitalism is supposed to work? You don't like the way Valve does things, you're free to go another route. Valve shouldn't be punished because they're the most popular, they're the most popular for a reason. They put a lot of work into Steam, at a time nobody else seemed to want to do it.


Kudos to Valve for their ambition.
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Old May 2, 2021, 10:56 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by zizbuka View Post
Isn't this how capitalism is supposed to work? You don't like the way Valve does things, you're free to go another route. Valve shouldn't be punished because they're the most popular, they're the most popular for a reason. They put a lot of work into Steam, at a time nobody else seemed to want to do it.


Kudos to Valve for their ambition.
I think this part that Eisberg posted is what is (ought to be) most in question.

Quote:
Valve has also threatened publishers that offered lower prices on other platforms, insisting that customers using the Steam Store should get a similar deal or else Valve may remove the publisher’s games from the Steam Gaming Platform altogether. Valve has also interrogated publishers about their deals on smaller platforms like Humble Bundle or Discord that offer lower commission rates than Steam. For example, Valve contacted publishers who released their games at a lower price on those competing platforms to demandsimilar deals on Steam. Because of Valve’s pressure tactics, publishers were forced to revise their deals with Humble Bundle and Discord or withdraw their games from those platforms all together
I would think those kinds of pressure tactics fall outside of what capitalism ideally ought to be and agree it should be looked at. Valve has pretty much the majority of everything digital platform and shouldn't be allowed to essentially bully.
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Old May 2, 2021, 11:04 AM   #15
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Technically in such circumstances Valve was fighting for consumer rights. It really is a weak argument in any court of law.

Also Humble Bumble bundle became a piece of shite bundle and that is why no one gives a crap about it. Nothing to do with Valve.
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Old May 2, 2021, 02:02 PM   #16
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Quote:
Valve has also threatened publishers that offered lower prices on other platforms, insisting that customers using the Steam Store should get a similar deal or else Valve may remove the publisher’s games from the Steam Gaming Platform altogether.

This is the part that seems oddest to me. I recognise that Steam is an international company dealing with developers and publishers from all over the world. Here in the UK though manufacturers or publishers do not generally set retail prices. They can give a RRP (Recommended Retail Price) but retailers make their own decision. Its why it pays to shop around.


The point is, it seems strange to suggest that publishers are trying to/being prevented from setting different retail prices. It's not their call anyway.


They could however offer different wholesale prices but from my experience that wouldn't win them any friends from other stores.



In my brick and mortar days we might strikes deals with sales reps whereby we might get discounts for bulk orders. I could see that working for keys just as readily as physical product. There should be a good reason for different deals.



I can also understand why Steam might have problems with other retailers getting favourable deals since Steam have to provide the infrastructure (Servers etc.) which other stores avoid. If Humble etc. want to be treated on an equal footing would they be willing to carry the costs of supporting these games for years to come too?
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Old May 2, 2021, 02:58 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John C Flett View Post
This is the part that seems oddest to me. I recognise that Steam is an international company dealing with developers and publishers from all over the world. Here in the UK though manufacturers or publishers do not generally set retail prices. They can give a RRP (Recommended Retail Price) but retailers make their own decision. Its why it pays to shop around.


The point is, it seems strange to suggest that publishers are trying to/being prevented from setting different retail prices. It's not their call anyway.


They could however offer different wholesale prices but from my experience that wouldn't win them any friends from other stores.



In my brick and mortar days we might strikes deals with sales reps whereby we might get discounts for bulk orders. I could see that working for keys just as readily as physical product. There should be a good reason for different deals.



I can also understand why Steam might have problems with other retailers getting favourable deals since Steam have to provide the infrastructure (Servers etc.) which other stores avoid. If Humble etc. want to be treated on an equal footing would they be willing to carry the costs of supporting these games for years to come too?
Good point.
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Old May 2, 2021, 03:06 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John C Flett View Post
This is the part that seems oddest to me. I recognise that Steam is an international company dealing with developers and publishers from all over the world. Here in the UK though manufacturers or publishers do not generally set retail prices. They can give a RRP (Recommended Retail Price) but retailers make their own decision. Its why it pays to shop around.


The point is, it seems strange to suggest that publishers are trying to/being prevented from setting different retail prices. It's not their call anyway.


They could however offer different wholesale prices but from my experience that wouldn't win them any friends from other stores.



In my brick and mortar days we might strikes deals with sales reps whereby we might get discounts for bulk orders. I could see that working for keys just as readily as physical product. There should be a good reason for different deals.



I can also understand why Steam might have problems with other retailers getting favourable deals since Steam have to provide the infrastructure (Servers etc.) which other stores avoid. If Humble etc. want to be treated on an equal footing would they be willing to carry the costs of supporting these games for years to come too?

For steam, it actually is the way it works. Steam allows the publishers and independants to set their own prices and sales on steam. If the Pub/Indi has no say on another platform steam wont do anything, which is why it doesnt happen very often. If the pub/indie does have the same choice in price and sales on another platform, valves policy when you sign up is that you offer the same price as you do else where. Thats the contract you sign.

All those scummy prices you see during sales on steam, where the game price is normally like 20 dollars, then during the sale its 40, but is 50% off. Thats entirely on the pubs/indies.
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Old May 2, 2021, 11:32 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Nunz View Post
I think this lawsuit holds much more ground than the Epic vs Apple one.

At the same time, Valve demands that 30% because they invested money in application development, and were the pioneers of the digital store you see today, and the multitude of stores that have tried so hard to mimic Steam and failed.
And remember steam provides the bandwith etc for downloads, the cloud space for save games etc. So it's not just a once off..
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Old May 3, 2021, 12:56 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John C Flett View Post
This is the part that seems oddest to me. I recognise that Steam is an international company dealing with developers and publishers from all over the world. Here in the UK though manufacturers or publishers do not generally set retail prices. They can give a RRP (Recommended Retail Price) but retailers make their own decision. Its why it pays to shop around.


The point is, it seems strange to suggest that publishers are trying to/being prevented from setting different retail prices. It's not their call anyway.


They could however offer different wholesale prices but from my experience that wouldn't win them any friends from other stores.



In my brick and mortar days we might strikes deals with sales reps whereby we might get discounts for bulk orders. I could see that working for keys just as readily as physical product. There should be a good reason for different deals.



I can also understand why Steam might have problems with other retailers getting favourable deals since Steam have to provide the infrastructure (Servers etc.) which other stores avoid. If Humble etc. want to be treated on an equal footing would they be willing to carry the costs of supporting these games for years to come too?
Since Steam doesn't buy products from the dev/pubs, it is the dev/pubs that set the price.

Also the allegation also includes Valve intimidating dev/pubs to have price parity with stores that are not selling Steam keys. In other words dev/pubs were not allowed to have lower prices on stores like Discord, EGS, GOG, Origin, even Humble non Steam key versions and if they did Valve threatened to kick them off from Steam.
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Old May 3, 2021, 01:57 AM   #21
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Yet, Steam also has titles on the store that were Epic Exclusives for a year. So by that logic those titles should also be banned on steam due to not having parity release dates, yet they exist.

Steam never created the "monopoly" mindset that gamers have with steam, the gamers did that themselves. "if it aint on steam I'm not buying" etc etc

Seems to be pretty true as well, because those epic exclusives sell quite a lot on steam even though they're already a year old.
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Old May 3, 2021, 02:02 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by SirBaron View Post
Yet, Steam also has titles on the store that were Epic Exclusives for a year. So by that logic those titles should also be banned on steam due to not having parity release dates, yet they exist.

Steam never created the "monopoly" mindset that gamers have with steam, the gamers did that themselves. "if it aint on steam I'm not buying" etc etc

Seems to be pretty true as well, because those epic exclusives sell quite a lot on steam even though they're already a year old.
Selling at different prices/sales and simply not selling a game are two completely different things lol
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Old May 3, 2021, 07:06 AM   #23
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If they were bullying people about price parity, they'd bully more so about selling at all if Exclusive deals were involved.
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Old May 3, 2021, 08:43 AM   #24
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For steam, it actually is the way it works. Steam allows the publishers and independants to set their own prices and sales on steam. If the Pub/Indi has no say on another platform steam wont do anything, which is why it doesnt happen very often. If the pub/indie does have the same choice in price and sales on another platform, valves policy when you sign up is that you offer the same price as you do else where. Thats the contract you sign.

All those scummy prices you see during sales on steam, where the game price is normally like 20 dollars, then during the sale its 40, but is 50% off. Thats entirely on the pubs/indies.
Here's Valves own support page on game/product pricing. It does work the way you say, but it has to be done in accordance with the Steam agreement devs sign to sell there.

https://partner.steamgames.com/doc/store/pricing
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Overview
Partners on Steam are responsible for setting and managing pricing for their products. The Steamworks Developer site provides tools to configure pricing and discounts in all the currencies supported by Steam. Initial pricing as well as proposed pricing adjustments will be reviewed by Valve and are usually processed within one or two business days. We recommend pricing strategies based on our experience and we may suggest prices based on currency conversions and other factors. During processing we will attempt to check your prices for input errors, but we can't guarantee we will catch every one so please check your prices carefully before submitting.
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Old May 3, 2021, 12:20 PM   #25
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Also, im pretty sick of hearing that steam has a monopoly... it literally does not, it also does not hold exclusives nor ban anyone from selling on the myriad of other stores.

No, they don't ban it... you just lose access to the vast majority of gamers, and there's no point in selling on multiple platforms if the steam offering is always as cheap as any other platform.

And there, in a nutshell, is why the Epic-Store Exclusive exists... because they can NOT sell on Steam and still offer better pricing on Epic to encourage people to give the developers a larger share of the pie.

Yes, developers are free to have non-exclusive games and pocket the Steam-tax difference for the few games that sell on Epic's platform, but it'll be a few because most of the gamers, given a choice, will still buy from steam meaning nothing much changes at all. Pretty much textbook abusing a monopoly position... not that they are the ONLY game in town, but they wield so much power in their industry that they can force everyone to play by their rules which guarantees staying on top.
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Old May 3, 2021, 02:12 PM   #26
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I'm not sure this applies to Steam.


Quote:
Definition: A market structure characterized by a single seller, selling a unique product in the market. In a monopoly market, the seller faces no competition, as he is the sole seller of goods with no close substitute.

Description: In a monopoly market, factors like government license, ownership of resources, copyright and patent and high starting cost make an entity a single seller of goods. All these factors restrict the entry of other sellers in the market. Monopolies also possess some information that is not known to other sellers.

Characteristics associated with a monopoly market make the single seller the market controller as well as the price maker. He enjoys the power of setting the price for his goods.
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Old May 3, 2021, 02:51 PM   #27
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I'm not sure this applies to Steam.

No, this does though

https://www.justice.gov/atr/competit...-act-chapter-2

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Market power and monopoly power are related but not the same. The Supreme Court has defined market power as "the ability to raise prices above those that would be charged in a competitive market,"(8) and monopoly power as "the power to control prices or exclude competition."(9)

...

Monopoly power is conventionally demonstrated by showing that both (1) the firm has (or in the case of attempted monopolization, has a dangerous probability of attaining) a high share of a relevant market and (2) there are entry barriers--perhaps ones created by the firm's conduct itself--that permit the firm to exercise substantial market power for an appreciable period.(16)

...

The Second Circuit has defined monopoly power as "the ability '(1) to price substantially above the competitive level and (2) to persist in doing so for a significant period without erosion by new entry or expansion.'"(46) Likewise, other circuit courts have found that firms with dominant market shares lacked monopoly power when their market power was insufficiently durable.(47)

...

Monopoly power entails both greater and more durable power over price than mere market power and serves as an important screen for section 2 cases. As a practical matter, a market share of greater than fifty percent has been necessary for courts to find the existence of monopoly power. If a firm has maintained a market share in excess of two-thirds for a significant period and the firm's market share is unlikely to be eroded in the near future, the Department believes that such facts ordinarily should establish a rebuttable presumption that the firm possesses monopoly power. The Department is not likely to forgo defining the relevant market or calculating market shares in section 2 monopolization and attempt cases, but will use direct evidence of anticompetitive effects when warranted and will not rely exclusively on market shares in concluding that a firm possesses monopoly power.
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Old May 3, 2021, 03:01 PM   #28
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Seems like a reach to me, but lawyers will be lawyers. So, the courts should force a private company to change the business model they've been using for years?


I get it when Microsoft was a 'monopoly', but that was because they made their own software work better on Windows. I don't see where Valve is doing anything to restrict the devs. Hell, they're hosting the code, applying the bandwidth and giving them tools.


If Valve shut Steam down tomorrow, do people really think it would get better? Maybe the devs should have issue with the publishers? They seem to be 'stealing' more money.
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Old May 3, 2021, 03:06 PM   #29
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I get it when Microsoft was a 'monopoly', but that was because they made their own software work better on Windows. I don't see where Valve is doing anything to restrict the devs. Hell, they're hosting the code, applying the bandwidth and giving them tools.

They are restricting their ability of the devs to set pricing on competitive services, which don't use any bandwidth, tools, etc. By making it impossible for anyone to undercut Valve they guarantee that no other service can ever acquire any significant market share.

If Valve controlled 30% of the download market, those kind of pricing deals are legal. When they control the majority of the download market, it arguably becomes an abuse of their monopoly power.


For devs that want the hosting, but set pricing separately (like Humble), it could be construed as a tying arrangement of two separate functions. That's a little harder to argue, but not out of the realm of possibilities.
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Old May 3, 2021, 04:11 PM   #30
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They are restricting their ability of the devs to set pricing on competitive services, which don't use any bandwidth, tools, etc. By making it impossible for anyone to undercut Valve they guarantee that no other service can ever acquire any significant market share.

If Valve controlled 30% of the download market, those kind of pricing deals are legal. When they control the majority of the download market, it arguably becomes an abuse of their monopoly power.

For devs that want the hosting, but set pricing separately (like Humble), it could be construed as a tying arrangement of two separate functions. That's a little harder to argue, but not out of the realm of possibilities.
I don't think I buy this argument because developers are not forced to go through Steam but they choose to go through Steam because typically Steam = Sales. Epic is literally luring developers with money to come to their store to build market share through exclusivity. That seems far more underhanded than just being the best at the job and letting the customers choose where they wish to shop.

Steam sets up the promotions, they make up the trading cards for the developer, they manage the storefront, they work on promoting games you would like (results may vary), they advertise, have wish lists, have forums, have workshops and mods, have guides, etc. That's called "value add"... and it costs 18% (12% that Epic pays plus 18% to make 30%). If you want a store that has a huge customer base, go to Epic. But be warned: They haven't invested in their storefront, they don't advertise games well, they don't have a cart, they don't have forums, they don't have mods, addons, etc. But you will earn more money.

Seems like a system that is working as intended.
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