Valve announced new Steam rules over the weekend. It might sound like a small change, but it’s the first time the company is changing revenue-sharing tiers.
Before the change, Valve would keep 30 percent of all revenue on Steam, including full games, DLCs, etc. Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo also take similar cuts on their own consoles.
But the PC is a different market. You can install any app you want and you’re not limited to Steam for your digital games. While Steam is still the dominant platform, there are now many alternatives, such as GOG, Discord’s store and more. Game publishers also have their own stores, such as EA’s Origin, Activision Blizzard’s Battle.net and Ubisoft’s Uplay.
In other words, Valve is now facing competition from other companies and game publishers themselves. Some big titles aren’t available on Steam (Fortnite, Overwatch, League of Legends…) and game publishers increasingly feel like they don’t get much out of Steam.
That’s why Steam now takes a 30 percent cut on sales under $10 million, then a 25 percent cut on sales between $10 million and $50 million, then a 20 percent cut on sales above $50 million. Valve wants to show big-game publishers that it is willing to give them a bigger cut if they list their popular games on Steam.
Of course, independent developers will think that the rich are getting richer with this move. And they’re right that it won’t change anything for small games. This is a message for big video game companies.