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"I felt that I had no choice," says Wolfire CEO about Valve antitrust lawsuit

"Most developers have little or no choice but to sell on Steam and do as they're told by Valve," David Rosen argued

Overgrowth developer Wolfire Games has shared more details about the reasons behind its lawsuit against Valve.

In a blog post published yesterday, founder and CEO David Rosen said he "felt [he] had no choice" as "gamers and game developers are being harmed by Valve's conduct."

He explained that some of the elements described in the lawsuit, such as Valve's price parity requirements, come from the studio's own experience. With Overgrowth, Rosen wanted to take advantage of the new stores emerging -- and their advantageous cut compared to Valve's 30% -- and sell the title for a lower price on these platforms.

However, when consulting Valve about it, the company warned it would remove Overgrowth from Steam if Rosen offered the game at a cheaper price point on another store, or even on its own website without Steam keys or Steam's DRM.

"This would make it impossible for me, or any game developer, to determine whether or not Steam is earning their commission," Rosen explained. "I believe that other developers who charged lower prices on other stores have been contacted by Valve, telling them that their games will be removed from Steam if they did not raise their prices on competing stores.

"While talking to other developers about problems that they were having with Steam, they kept referring to it as a 'monopoly,' and saying that there was nothing that we could do. I wondered, has anyone actually checked if Valve is obeying antitrust law? So I consulted with legal experts, which eventually culminated in the complaint."

Steam's dominant position also means that the majority of PC developers' revenue come from the platform, Rosen continued, meaning studios have "little but no choice but to sell on Steam and do as they're told by Valve." Not doing so would represent an "unacceptable risk" for them, Rosen argued.

"I believe that businesses are free to do whatever they want within the law. However, once a company reaches a certain level of power over an entire market, the antitrust laws forbid those companies from distorting competition. I believe that Valve is taking away gamers' freedom to choose how much extra they are willing to pay to use their platform. I believe they are taking away competing stores' freedom to compete by taking advantage of their lower commission rates. I believe they are taking away developers' freedom to use different pricing models.

"In my opinion, this is part of why all competing stores have failed. This suit insists that Valve stop interfering with pricing on other stores, and allow gamers and developers to make their own decisions. That's why I joined the lawsuit."

Wolfire Games filed an antitrust lawsuit against Valve on April 27, denouncing anti-competitive practices from Steam's parent company.

GamesIndustry.biz reached out to Valve for comment.

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