"You mad bro?": Lawsuit emails reveal Valve's internal response to Epic CEO's "you assholes" rant about Steam revenue cuts

Fortnite Chpater 5 Season 1 Jonesy character with shades
(Image credit: Epic Games)

Old emails uncovered in a lawsuit against Valve have revealed that Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney was previously very disgruntled with the changes to Steam revenue splits announced in late 2018, and went as far as to call Valve "assholes" in a message to president Gabe Newell.

For context, the lawsuit in question wasn't filed by Epic – it was by indie game studio Wolfire Games, and it began in 2021. At the time, Wolfire hoped to insist "that Valve stop interfering with pricing on other stores" after allegedly being told that its game, Overgrowth, would be removed from Steam if offered for a lower price elsewhere. 

Now, as reported and shared in the GameDiscoverCo newsletter, new documents have been uncovered as part of the lawsuit, including some partially redacted email interactions between Sweeney, Newell, Erik Johnson and Scott Lynch.

The most explosive interaction took place just before the Epic Games Store was publicly revealed in December 2018, in a discussion surrounding Steam's revenue split – the amount of money Valve takes from developers who publish their games on the platform. 

"Right now, you assholes are telling the world that the strong and powerful get special terms, while 30% is for the little people," Sweeney wrote. "We're all in for a prolonged battle if Apple tries to keep their monopoly and 30% by cutting backroom deals with big publishers to keep them quiet. Why not give ALL developers a better deal? What better way is there to convince Apple quickly that their model is now totally untenable?"

Close up of Astarion next to Steam logo

(Image credit: Future / Phil Hayton)

For context, Steam generally takes a 30% cut from developers , but a few days before the announcement of the Epic Games Store, Steam revealed it was changing things so that its cut can go down to 25% or even 20% once games surpass higher revenue thresholds. Games have to reach between $10 million and $50 million for 25%, and go beyond $50 million for 20%, giving game developers more profit.

Epic's revenue split, on the other hand, is a lot more favorable towards developers, with the company generally taking a 12% cut from all games. These days, it also offers programs to give developers 100% revenue for a limited time by bringing their older games to its storefront, or by releasing new games with an Epic exclusivity window. With that in mind, you can see the mindset that fueled Sweeney's annoyance at Steam's more generous revenue split deals being reserved only for the biggest and most financially successful games.

Valve, however, didn't respond how you might expect. The same document containing this email from Sweeney also reveals that the very next day, Valve's chief operating officer, Scott Lynch, weighed in on an internal Valve thread, simply saying: "You mad bro?" 

It would seem Sweeney was, in fact, mad. 

Back in November 2023, it was revealed that the Epic Games Store still wasn't profitable.

Catherine Lewis
News Writer

I'm one of GamesRadar+'s news writers, who works alongside the rest of the news team to deliver cool gaming stories that we love. After spending more hours than I can count filling The University of Sheffield's student newspaper with Pokemon and indie game content, and picking up a degree in Journalism Studies, I started my career at GAMINGbible where I worked as a journalist for over a year and a half. I then became TechRadar Gaming's news writer, where I sourced stories and wrote about all sorts of intriguing topics. In my spare time, you're sure to find me on my Nintendo Switch or PS5 playing through story-driven RPGs like Xenoblade Chronicles and Persona 5 Royal, nuzlocking old Pokemon games, or going for a Victory Royale in Fortnite.