Back in April, Overgrowth developer Wolfire Games filed an antitrust lawsuit against Valve. Now the judge has dismissed the case, ruling that the suit “does not articulate sufficient facts to plausibly allege an antitrust injury.”
Wolfire’s suit alleged that “Valve abuses its market power to ensure game publishers have no choice but to sell most of their games through the Steam Store, where they are subject to Valve’s 30 percent toll.” Valve responded in July by filing for dismissal, arguing that the suit “fails to allege the most basic elements of an antitrust case.”
Judge John C. Coughenour agreed. His ruling, available via CourtListener, states that Wolfire fail to provide enough evidence for their claims.
A large part of the initial filing focused on the Steam Key Price Parity Provision, whereby Steam require that developers and publishers not sell their games for a lower price elsewhere than they’re offering on Steam. Wolfire argued that this prevented other stores from competing on price. They also argued that Steam’s 30% cut of game sales was far more than it could charge in a competitive marketplace.
The judge’s ruling addresses these complaints in two ways. First, by pointing out that, as Wolfire’s lawsuit stated, several competitors have taken a smaller cut of sales yet still failed. “Therefore, it would appear that the market reality, at least as plead, is that Defendant’s fee is commensurate with the steam Platform’s value to game publishers.”
Second, the judge felt that Wolfire had not demonstrated “antitrust injury” – that they, or the industry, had been harmed by Valve’s practices, and that this had resulted in fewer and lower quality games. “If anything, the facts provided by the CAC, at least with respect to output, suggest the opposite – a consistent increase in the number of games available in the market and on the Steam platform. […] And finally, the CAC does not provide facts describing how Wolfire directly suffered from an alleged reduction in output and/or quality.”
Wolfire have 30 days in which to file a second amended complaint, if they wish. I’ve reached out to Valve and Wolfire for comment and will update this story if I hear back.