Wolfire Games is bringing an antitrust lawsuit against valve for monopolistic practices in Steam. The Humble Bundle developer studio claims Valve’s policies prevent developers from listing their games for a cheaper price on rival marketplaces.
Wolfire Games is behind the proposed class action filed last week in a Washington Federal court. The class action accuses Valve of breaking federal antitrust law by extracting an anti-competitive fee of 30% from nearly every computer game sold on Steam in the United States. Wolfire Games is the indie dev company that started Humble Bundle.
Humble Bundle accuses Valve of breaking antitrust law
Wolfire Games says that Valve has a technical monopoly over the PC games market. Valve also takes an ‘extraordinarily high cut’ of 30% cut for games sold on the Steam marketplace.
Wolfire games says Steam commands around 75% of the PC Gaming market, according to a report by ArsTechnica. The lawsuit specifically targets Steam’s Steam's Key Price Parity Provision. This provision prevents game developers from selling their games at a cheaper price on marketplaces other than Steam. So even if other marketplaces such as Epic Games and the Windows Store take a smaller cut of all sales, the developers cannot price their games lower than their Steam price.
This policy is anti-competitive and forces game developers’ hands. The developers cannot list their games on rival marketplaces at lower prices, thereby obstructing healthy competition.
Valve’s Policy impacted Humble Bundle
The court documents say Valve’s policies directly affect the Humble Store. Publishers were wary of listing their games on the Humble Bundle for a lower price. They feared retaliation if Humble Bundle’s users sold their game keys for a cheaper price in the grey market. The lawsuit also says Valve once worked with Humble Bundle on a ‘keyless direct integration’, but abruptly pulled the plug on that partnership.
Mounting Pressure on Valve
There is mounting pressure on Valve to reduce its fees from the sale of games. However, Steam remains the premier marketplace for the sale of games and Valve provides a lot of service to game developers including featuring lesser-known games on the marketplace.
With the recent lawsuits against publishers commanding a high percentage of sales, Wolfire’s lawsuit should not come as a surprise. Valve has maintained its silence on this issue. Esports.gg will update this article as more information becomes available.