Lawsuit accuses Valve of overcharging for games on Steam

By Fariha Bhatti

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Jun 14, 2024

Reading time: 2 min

Steam is being accused of overcharging users in the UK in a class action spearheaded by digital rights campaigner Vicki Shotbolt.

Valve, the parent company behind game distributor Steam, is facing a class lawsuit by a UK children’s digital rights activist who has accused the company of manipulating market prices to boost its income and revenue. According to the lawsuit filed on behalf of 14,000 gamers in the UK, Valve needs to pay everyone who made a purchase on Steam since June 5, 2018.  

Shotbolt has started a website to support the campaign dubbed “Steam You Owe Us.” The website outlines the lawsuit’s causes, which seek £656 million at the Competition Appeal Tribunal on June 5 for “abusing its dominant position in a market.”

Why is Steam being sued in the UK?

Steam lawsuit
Steam

According to Shotbolt’s lawsuit, Valve has been overcharging consumers in the UK for games available on Steam. The company allegedly achieved this by shutting down competition and forcing publishers to sign up to pricing restrictions, thereby preventing them from selling their games cheaply on other platforms.

“Companies who hold a dominant position in a market are not allowed to charge excessive or anti-competitive prices. They also cannot impose other unfair trading conditions that prevent or hinder others from competing with them,” the claim says.

Games available on Steam with DLC content are often priced lower than on other platforms, making Steam the preferred marketplace for consumers. Allegedly, Valve achieves this by ensuring that the game is not sold for a cheaper price elsewhere. According to Shotbolt, consumers in the UK have been overpaying due to market manipulation.

This claim has been paired with Valve’s charging an excessive commission on game sales. For the first $10 million in sales, Valve takes a 30% cut of the revenue from each game. This is the standard rate and applies to the vast majority of games on Steam. For revenue between $10 million and $50 million, Valve’s cut decreases to 25%.

While this lawsuit will take years to reach a conclusion, UK gamers, unless they opt out of it, will be paid between £22 and £44 in compensation.