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posted by janrinok on Sunday May 15, @11:13PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the there's-a-steam-beat-and-it's-coming-after-you dept.

Judge brings dismissed Steam antitrust lawsuit back from the dead:

Last November, Western District of Washington Judge John Coughenour sided with Valve in dismissing a Steam antitrust lawsuit that had been filed by indie developer (and Humble Bundle creator) Wolfire Games. Now, that same judge is showing new respect for Wolfire's arguments, allowing parts of an amended version of the complaint to move forward.

In a May 6 ruling (noted by Bloomberg Law), Judge Coughenour said that the allegations in Wolfire's initial lawsuit were "anecdotal and threadbare" but that an amended lawsuit "provides additional context" and lays out a case that is "sufficient to plausibly allege unlawful conduct." As such, the judge has refused to dismiss large parts of that amended case, letting it move forward through the long judicial process.

In his original ruling, Judge Coughenour dismissed Wolfire's claims that Steam's 30 percent fee to publishers was higher than what the company would take in a more competitive market. At the time, the judge noted that Steam's fees had remained the same from its launch in 2003 through its alleged "market dominance" in 2013 and beyond.

In his new ruling, though, Judge Coughenour was receptive to the argument that Steam's fees relative to the competition have changed during that time, writing, "In those early days, Defendant was competing against brick-and-mortar game distributors, [but] the [amended complaint] makes it clear that Defendant 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."

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  • (Score: 2) by janrinok on Monday May 16, @09:13AM (4 children)

    by janrinok (52) Subscriber Badge on Monday May 16, @09:13AM (#1245270) Journal

    I'm not sure that I understand what is actually wrong here, If Valve/Steam charge a specific amount to publish a game, the the game producer agrees to it, then there is a contract. If the amount charged was exorbitant then he shouldn't have agreed to it. Crying about it later seems like an admission that they didn't do due diligence in the first place.

    • (Score: 2) by Freeman on Monday May 16, @02:34PM

      by Freeman (732) on Monday May 16, @02:34PM (#1245325) Journal

      'eh, it's possible it somewhat runs afoul of antitrust laws, but then so do the likes of Apple's App Store and Google's Marketplace. With the advent of the Steam Deck, Steam is somewhat similar to Apple/Google, but it's much easier to put Windows/Linux, etc. on the Steam Deck than it is to switch OS on a phone. Apple and Google should be slammed harder, if this lawsuit gains any traction whatsoever.

      Joshua 1:9 "Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee"
    • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 16, @04:04PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 16, @04:04PM (#1245345)

      "I don't understand what is actually wrong here. If the mafia offers to provide protection for a business for a certain amount of money, and the business agrees, then there is a contract. If the amount charged was exorbitant, then it shouldn't have agreed."

      Obviously that's an exaggeration, but I think it illustrates that situations can be very complicated when fundamental assumptions are violated. As an example, it's very possible that Valve has a de facto monopoly and is abusing it (e.g. they are charging a lot more than anybody else). It's also very possible that everybody uses Steam because it's higher quality, and it's higher quality because Valve spends more to support it than anybody else.

      Regardless, it's at least plausible that there is a valid case here. Also, in thinking about the Apple iTunes store, my ignorant sympathies are more naturally in favor of the publisher over Valve, but that's entirely in ignorance.

    • (Score: 2) by wisnoskij on Tuesday May 17, @01:07AM

      It sort of sounds like they are saying that even though they did not have market dominance, they dominated with profit margins, and their non brick and mortar style made it like they were the only shark in the pond. AKA, they were so far ahead of the game, that even though they were technically a tiny fish in a big pond, no one could reasonably compete.

    • (Score: 2) by ledow on Tuesday May 17, @07:53AM

      by ledow (5567) on Tuesday May 17, @07:53AM (#1245578) Homepage

      Well, that's another reason to wean myself off Wolfire / Humble.