It’s an understood fact of PC gaming life that the Steam platform is the standard for digital games storefronts, and it’s that position of power that has lead five gamers to file a class action lawsuit this past Thursday against Valve, claiming that the company is abusing its power to mark up the prices of PC games.
“Valve Corporation’s Steam platform is the dominant platform for game developers to distribute and sell PC games in the United States, but the Steam platform does not maintain its dominance through better pricing than by rival platforms. Instead, Valve abuses the Steam platform’s market power by requiring game developers to enter into a ‘Most Favored Nations’ provision contained in the Steam Distribution Agreement whereby the game developers agree that the price of a PC game on the Steam platform will be the same price the game developers sell their PC games on other platforms.”
According to the suit, this agreement effectively stymies competition and innovation, which in turn means that games prices are never allowed to be lower. “If this market functioned properly […] platforms competing with Steam would be able to provide the same (or higher) margins to game developers while simultaneously providing lower prices to consumers,” reasons the complaint.