PC gamers sues steam over game price hike. According to The Hollywood Reporter, five individuals have taken Valve to court in California because of the company’s strong hold on the PC gaming industry. Steam as a platform accounts for the majority of PC game sales above competitors like the Epic Games Store or GOG. This legal case, in particular, takes issue with the ‘Most Favored Nations’ approach to the company’s game sales practise.
A Most Favored Nations section, or an MFN, is contained within the Steam Distribution Agreement, whereby “the game developer 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.” Thereby making it impossible for developers with items on Steam to have better prices elsewhere, so other platforms cannot gain an edge as someone might be able to in other retail industries.
So if a game is £39.99 on Steam, it has to be £39.99 everywhere else when the developer signs up for distribution on Steam. As Steam has such a massive hold on PC games distribution, that others have tried to catch up to. It’s semi-impossible to do so if the games you’re selling are on Steam already. Rather than a traditional system of platforms trying to undercut each others’ prices so everyone stays at a competitive level, it is being argued that Steam has such a hold on the market that it isn’t being encouraged to compete with other platforms at all.