IPE: Another Nonsense Antitrust Lawsuit

Wolfire Games launches lawsuit against Valve.

Step aside Epic, you’re not the only one running a performative dance in the form of a lawsuit. Wolfire Games, creators of Overgrowth and Receiver, have filed suit against Valve in the western district of Washington.

The lawsuit accuses Valve of using its market dominance to take an “extraordinarily high cut” from sales as well as suppressing competition through its market dominance. The lawsuit goes on to claim that Valve abuses their market power to ensure game developers have no choice but to sell on their platform. How do they do that? Not sure. It also doesn’t really detail how Valve blocks competitors.

It’s important to note that Valve’s cut, that being 30%, is not “extraordinarily high” by any means in the industry. The lawsuit also notes Valve’s price parity rules for developers selling keys on other websites without acknowledging that price parity is also an industry standard. That and most other platforms don’t allow developers to sell keys off-platform period.

The lawsuit makes mention of several failed attempts at competing with Valve without acknowledging why those ventures failed. For instance Origin couldn’t compete against Valve because EA didn’t open the platform up for third parties. Discord’s attempt at a game store failed because people didn’t like using it, or playing games through Discord. Hell, the lawsuit even notes that Discord Nitro subscribers didn’t play the free games they got. None of that has to do with Valve interference.

The same could be said for the Microsoft Store which attained a very poor reputation in terms of quality and customer satisfaction. Google Stadia is mentioned as a failed competitor, but I don’t think anyone at Google would agree that the service was built as a competitor to Steam. There is also no proof that Stadia failed because of Steam, as opposed to poor market trust in Google plus the disagreements consumers had over the questionable ethics of tying game ownership to a company known for shutting down services on a whim.

The lawsuit wants damages, costs, and injunctions against Valve’s anti-competitive practices. Will it get anywhere? We have heavy doubts. The whole thing feels like a Tim Sweeney-level performative dance for visibility. It’s entirely predicated on making overblown and rather ridiculously exaggerated claims, claims that Valve’s lawyers could probably knock out with little effort.

There’s probably some ethical concerns over the fact that this lawsuit is being spearheaded by the Humble Bundle guys who made a lot of money selling Steam keys, but hell if I know.

Now MMO Fallout has a dedicated column to discussing Valve either engaging in or passively allowing fraud on Steam. So I’m not calling this lawsuit nonsense because I’m a fanboy of the platform.

Source: Scribd