The company suing Valve, Wolfire Games, allege that Valve exploits its market dominance to not only threaten but also retaliate against independent developers that sell their games for less, through other retailers or distribution platforms.
Wolfire Games claim Valve “allegedly enforces this regime through a combination of written and unwritten rules” by imposing their own terms and conditions on how “non-Steam-enabled games are sold and priced,” Judge Coughenour wrote.
Coughenour added, “These allegations are sufficient to plausibly allege unlawful conduct.”
It wasn’t a whole win for Wolfire Games, as another claim in the lawsuit was dismissed. Wolfire Games argued that Valve operates in two markets, one as a gaming platform and the other as a store, and that Valve shouldn’t tie them together.
The judge disagreed, saying that there is no demand from customers for a “fully functional gaming platform” that is separate from the store. However, the remainder of the case and its focus on Valve’s alleged control of pricing and sales remains.
Judge Coughenour offered his own boomer take saying when Valve only competed against brick-and-mortar retailers, “it did not need market power to charge a fee well above its cost structure because those brick-and-mortar competitors had a far higher cost structure.”
The accusations recal claims that Amazon used their own policies to jack up prices for basically everything on sale online within the USA. The Amazon lawsuits included one that was focused on eBooks, while another was brought forward by the attorney general of Washington, D.C.
The Steam suit filing (via Bloomberg) is similar to the ongoing cases with Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store, but it’s worth pointing out legal theories differ between the cases on both platforms.
Apple did manage to settle a developer-filed lawsuit for $100 million, but they’re also stuck appealing a court order that if successful will force them to make expensive changes to their App Store.The lawsuit doesn’t touch on their newly released handheld console, the Steam Deck.
What do you think about Valve’s dominance in the PC gaming market – and this lawsuit? Sound off in the comments below!