Newell's request to give a remote deposition was denied.
Photo of Valve CEO Gabe Newell.

The antitrust lawsuit against Valve from Wolfire Games is starting to gain a bit of traction as of this past week. According to, Valve CEO Gabe Newell has been ordered by the court to attend an in-person deposition regarding the case.

The order, filed on November 16 in the US District Court for the Western District of Washington by Wolfire Games, states that Newell is "uniquely positioned to testify on all aspects of [Valve's] business strategy." It continues to say that an in-person deposition "would allow [Wolfire Games] to adequately assess Newell's credibility."

Newell seemed to be perfectly fine with providing a deposition, but wanted to do so remotely due to his concerns regarding COVID. The court responded by saying that Newell provided "insubstantial evidence to suggest that he is at particularized risk of serious illness." As such, Newell has been ordered to attend the deposition in person.

In fairness to Newell's concerns, all participants at the trial will have to wear masks during the deposition. However, Newell himself must remove his mask when answering questions.

The lawsuit against Valve from Wolfire Games first came about back in April 2021. Wolfire claimed that Valve "illegally monopolized the market and distorted and restrained competition through its Steam Store and Steam Gaming Platform." They claim that Steam's dominance allows Valve to "exploit publishers and consumers" by taking "an extraordinarily high cut" of 30% from every sale made through the platform.

That initial claim was dismissed in November 2021 when a US District judge said that the complaint did not "articulate sufficient facts to plausibly allege an antitrust injury based on that market." However, Wolfire Games could file another complaint if they made amendments to their complaint. They did just that and the lawsuit was back on in May 2022.

The fact that Wolfire was allowed to amend their lawsuit is not indicative of any potential outcome in this case. Four claims from the original lawsuit were dismissed. These claims alleged that the Steam platform and the Steam market operated in separate markets. These were dismissed with prejudice meaning that the claims cannot be filed again, amended or not.
This amended lawsuit complaint says that "in order to afford Valve's 30% commission, game publishers must raise their prices to consumers." They claim that "gamers are injured by paying higher retail prices caused by Valve's high commissions. Competition, output, and innovation are suppressed, in ways that can never be fully redressed by damages alone."

The 30% cut that Valve takes (and only up to a point), has been the industry standard for generations now, especially in the console space. The Epic Games Store with their 12% cut has shown that the savings do not, in fact, make their way to the consumer. Epic Games has also stated in court that as of November 2023 the Epic Games Store still isn't profitable despite launching in late 2018. Epic Games recently laid off 16% of their workforce, or about 900 employees.

As for Wolfire, their games such as Overgrowth and Receiver are still available for sale through Steam, despite this lawsuit against Valve. The studio has not developed any new titles since the 2020 release of Receiver 2, which is also available through Steam. Though they have been free to do so, Wolfire has not released any of their titles outside of Steam. Searches on GOG, Humble, and Epic Games Store yielded zero results when searching for "Receiver," "Overgrowth", and "Wolfire Games."