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Valve files for dismissal of Wolfire Games' antitrust lawsuit

Steam's parent company filed a motion to dismiss, saying its practices do not harm competition

Valve has filed a motion to dismiss Wolfire Games' antitrust lawsuit as it "fails to allege the most basic elements of an antitrust case."

The Overgrowth developer filed its lawsuit in April, denouncing anti competitive practices and price fixing from Valve.

In the motion it filed on July 26, Steam's parent company addressed the 30% cut for games sold on the platform, saying Wolfire didn't provide proof that the commission "is above the competitive level." Going further, Valve claimed that the market has not changed in a manner that would warrant moving away from the 30% standard it itself set.

"Valve, an innovator that created Steam as a platform for playing video games in 2003 and, to create an integrated customer experience, offered games for purchase starting in 2004, set the 30% rate at the beginning, at a time of 'vibrant competition' for PC digital game distribution," the motion reads. "In other words, 30% was a competitive price from the beginning, was still so nearly a decade later in 2013, when Steam allegedly became 'dominant', and nothing is alleged to have happened since then to make it supracompetitive."

The Steam Keys program was also at the heart of Wolfire's complaint, with Valve saying that the developer has failed to "allege anything unlawful" about it.

"Plaintiffs allege Valve's Steam Key Rules and Guidelines violate the antitrust laws because they ask developers who want to take advantage of Steam's features and popularity for free to treat Steam customers fairly by setting their prices for Steam-enabled games on Steam as low as they charge for those same games when sold elsewhere using Steam Keys," the motion read. "Plaintiffs say this request is anticompetitive. But Valve has no duty under antitrust law to allow developers to use free Steam Keys to undersell prices for the games they sell on Steam -- or to provide Steam Keys at all."

Valve further argued that its practices are not anti-competitive but in fact exactly what competition is supposed to be.

"Valve's alleged [most favoured nations clause] asks developers to give Steam customers the lowest available price for a game. Seeking the best price for your customers is not harm to competition; it is competition." (Emphasis in original)

Valve concluded by asking the court to grant its motion and dismiss Wolfire's claims, as they have failed "to allege unlawful conduct, antitrust injury, [and] market power."

After the original lawsuit was filed, Wolfire Games' CEO David Rosen explained that he "felt [he] had no choice" as "game developers are being harmed by Valve's conduct."

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Marie Dealessandri

Deputy Editor

Marie Dealessandri joined GamesIndustry.biz in 2019 to head its Academy section. A journalist since 2012, she started in games in 2016 at B2B magazine MCV. She can be found (rarely) tweeting @mariedeal, usually on a loop about Baldur’s Gate and the Dead Cells soundtrack. GI resident Moomins expert.