$843 million lawsuit against Valve already has its own website: "The Steam Claim" accuses the biggest store in PC gaming of "overcharging" players

Official Half-Life 2 artwork from Valve showing protagonist Gordon Freeman wrangling with an alien creature
(Image credit: Valve)

Valve is being sued in the UK for a whopping £656 million ($843 million) in a compensation lawsuit alleging that millions of PC players could have been overcharged on Steam.

Vicki Shotbolt, the children's digital rights campaigner heading the case alongside law firm Milberg London, accuses Valve of "rigging the market and taking advantage of UK gamers." 

According to Shotbolt, the developer and digital distribution company is "shutting out" all competition in the PC gaming market as it "forces" game publishers to sign off on price parity obligations - supposedly preventing them from going on to offer lower prices on other platforms.

The claim is backed by two other points - that any future add-on content for purchases made on Valve's platform must then also be bought on Steam, a practice known legally as tying; and that Steam charges developers an "excessive commission of up to 30%" when selling games on the digital platform. A new website dedicated to representing the claim details why Shotbolt deems these doings unfair, citing UK law - "Companies who hold a dominant position in a market are not allowed to charge excessive or anti-competitive prices." 

The explanation of the lawsuit on this website, aptly dubbed "Steam You Owe Us," continues - "They also cannot impose other unfair trading conditions that prevent or hinder others from competing with them." As per the site, this is why Shotbolt and supporters believe "Valve Corporation has been unfairly shutting out competition for PC games and in-game content, which has meant that UK customers have paid too much for these products."

How many customers? According to the site, around 14 million PC gamers in the UK "could have been overcharged by Valve." The amount of money the claim says is owed to each UK player ranges from about $30 to $60 (£22 to £44). It's important to note that nothing has been authorized by the UK's Competition Appeal Tribunal as of now - something that must happen in order for the claim to proceed to trial. This means that Shotbolt's case may never progress.

This isn't the first lawsuit of this kind that Valve has faced, though - back in 2021, indie game studio Wolfire Games insisted "that Valve stop interfering with pricing on other stores" as part of a similar case. It also isn't the first time that Millberg London LLP has represented a case in law regarding games - the firm filed against Sony in 2022 claiming players pay "excessive and unfair prices" on the PlayStation store due to "unfair terms and conditions" set for "game developers and publishers."

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Anna Koselke
Staff Writer

After spending years with her head in various fantastical realms' clouds, Anna studied English Literature and then Medieval History at the University of Edinburgh, going on to specialize in narrative design and video game journalism as a writer. She has written for various publications since her postgraduate studies, including Dexerto, Fanbyte, GameSpot, IGN, PCGamesN, and more. When she's not frantically trying to form words into coherent sentences, she's probably daydreaming about becoming a fairy druid and befriending every animal or she's spending a thousand (more) hours traversing the Underdark in Baldur's Gate 3. If you spot her away from her PC, you'll always find Anna with a fantasy book, a handheld video game console of some sort, and a Tamagotchi or two on hand.