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Valve Adds New Clause to Steam Distribution Agreement, Could Block Epic Store Exclusivity

Update (September 9th):

YouTuber SidAlpha posted a video, as a follow up to his earlier work on Steam’s “update” to their policies. In the new video, he states three sperate people informed him that the terms others had reported as “new” had been present for a long time.

SidAlpha then states he has a copy of the agreement from 2017, obtained via a Steam developer account “that may or may not exist.” The agreement from 2017 still has the same segment as mentioned below.

Continuing, SidAlpha states the terms would mean games such as Metro Exodus and Shenmue III would be in violation of the terms. As to why Valve has taken no action in those cases, SidAlpha proposes it may be Valve’s legal team are unaware of the clause (citing Valve’s allegedly unmanaged style of operation), or Valve choosing not to pursue it (due to not caring or fearing negative PR).

Original Story:

Steam has updated its terms for developers and publishers to seemingly ban them from announcing the game for the platform, only to back out later for exclusivity on another platform.

The news comes from an alleged screenshot (via Reddit) of Steam’s terms of service for those who wish to sell a game through their Steamworks program. The thing to make note of is the first segment of section 2 – Delivery (2.1).

“Delivery. Company shall submit the Applications to Steam for release no later than the first commercial release of each Application or Localized Version, or, if already commercially released as of the Effective Date, within (30) days of the Effective Date. Thereafter, Company shall submit to Steam any Localized Versions and Application Updates (in beta and final form) when available, but in no event later than they are provided to any other third party for commercial release. Company shall provide these copies in object code form, in whatever format Valve reasonably requests.”

In short, once a company has agreed to “deliver” their game to Steam for launch – the files must be submitted to Steam before it’s release (or 30 days after signing up to the program). Updates must also never happen later than on other platforms.

The new terms are most likely to counter the recent trend of games being announced on Steam, only to be later pulled for an exclusive release on the Epic Games Store. This has occurred with titles including Shenmue III, Anno 1800, and Metro Exodus (the latter even prompting a response from the series creator).

Others have rejected the Epic Games Store’s exclusivity offer outright, including Bandai Namco, Microsoft, and indie developer Unfold Games– going as far as to say pulling Darq from Steam for Epic Games Store exclusivity would ruin their credibility.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments below!

Ryan Pearson

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Taking his first steps onto Route 1 and never stopping, Ryan has had a love of RPGs since a young age. Now he's learning to appreciate a wider pallet of genres and challenges.