That could mean that they are totally super mega awesome. It also could mean that they are understaffed and thus need to fulfill the role of multiple employees, or that they just don't have enough staff that doesn't contribute to sales directly, like customer service or the like. It could also mean that businesses are subject to diminishing returns and thus not comparable linearly. It could also mean that they have less representation in different countries to better act by the laws their international customers expect them to act by.

This is not the proof for "non public is better" or "less corporate working environments is better" people might want it to be.


Here is a game journalist who tried to find out what’s it like working at Valve

BolexForSoup avatar

That was a very informative watch. I think he’s right to question why we treat valve differently when if any other company had their kind of market dominance, as well as virtually no transparency outside of very controlled announcements, we’d all be sweating it.

loobkoob avatar

I think he’s right to question why we treat valve differently when if any other company had their kind of market dominance, as well as virtually no transparency outside of very controlled announcements, we’d all be sweating it.

I think a big part of it is that consumers (myself included) tend to feel like Valve has earned its market dominance through simply being the best option for consumers. They're not using anti-competitive tactics to try to crush any opposition, they're not abusing their market dominance to force consumers into making decisions they otherwise wouldn't.

If you compare to some of the tactics Epic uses with its store:

  • Epic regularly buys exclusivity for games. This is good for Epic (who gets the games on their store), sometimes good for the devs/publishers (they get given money for a game they were making anyway, but it's also a marketing black hole with how few sales EGS results in compared to Steam releases), and bad for consumers (who no longer get a choice in where to play).
  • Epic consistently uses its market position in other areas (particularly Unreal Engine) to push publishers to use its store (such as by reducing the Unreal Engine fees for games released on the Epic Games Store)
  • last I know, Epic Games Store operated at a loss, being subsidised by Epic's revenue from Unreal Engine and Fortnite. Which makes it reasonable to assume that other parties couldn't employ the same tactics with their own stores without running at a loss, making it somewhat anti-competitive.
  • Taking advantage of fear of missing out (FOMO) by offering "vouchers" with somewhat specific usage requirements (X% off or -Y cost - whichever is lower - on games that cost Z or more. Use by a certain date). Sure, these things are advantageous to consumers if they're already planning a purchase, but it definitely pushes people towards purchases they might otherwise not make.

If Valve was using similar tactics for Steam, I think people would (justifiably) be upset. But instead, we see Steam being what's widely regarded as the best major launcher, both in terms of UI and features. We see them being maybe the only storefront to allow people to purchase keys to sell elsewhere. We see them providing a full forum system free of charge. They're generally held up as an example of what all the other companies running storefronts and launchers should be, rather than a company people only go to begrudgingly because they're the biggest or only option.

Semi-Hemi-Demigod avatar

Having worked for both public and non-public companies - Non-public is way better

Kolanaki, avatar

The only one that seems surprising is Apple. All the others don’t really make products that are sold. They make revenue via advertising on things they give away free. Valve not only used to make games they still sell, but made a store platform not a social media network.

Clent, (edited )

Apple charges 15-30% fee to sell games built on their platform: 🤮greedy bastards 🤮

Stream charges 30% to sell games on their platform: 😍🥰😍🥰😍🥰😍

Edit: Downvotes without rebuttal prove my point.


Apple: if you want to sell apps to iOS users you have to pay Apple, there is no other option.

Valve: if you want to sell your game on our platform you can, but you don’t have to, there are many other options you can choose to distribute your games.

Does that help you understand?

Clent, (edited )

That wasn’t my argument. People are specifically against Apple charging fees. Calling it rent seeking. Steam does the exact same thing. Their profit is primarily from these fees, so either we all agree the fees aren’t the problem or accept it’s anti-Apple sentiment.

Gaming systems have this same lack of choice but at least for Apple, you can move to an EU country and you now have this choice. We’ll see how that plays out.

Apple users know what they are doing when they purchase the device same as consumers know what they are doing when they purchase a ps5 rather than a computer.


I’m confused. You do seem to understand that apple developers don’t have a choice, but PC/game developers do. But you fail to understand that those are different?

I don’t think I can help you understand.


Yeah, I’m with you on this. Consumers and business keep going to steam because of its value proposition to both parties. Businesses develop for the Apple store because its literally the only way to interact with 50% of the mobile market.

One is a choice the other is a requirement. To develop for apple products you must pay apple 30%. To develop a PC game you don’t need to pay anyone anything (can release through any mechanism or multiple mechanisms).


Apple works hard to contain everything in its walled garden. Steam works in an open ecosystem.


“Apple users know what they are doing when they purchase the device”

Ahahahaha no they do not. Maybe like 10% sure, and thats your choice, but the vast majority of apple users are tech illiterate and buy it as either a statement or because they believe that “it just works” better than an android (which isnt true, androids work just the same ootb)


There it is. You sincerely think Apple users are ignorant of their choice.

Thanks for admitting that openly. I figured it was true but it’s really nice to have it confirmed.


Apple users don’t have a choice.

Users should still have choices after they pick their OS. This isn’t a new concept, Microsoft has been dealing with this same thing for decades. Just because Apple is now being asked to play by the same rules you’re having a hissy fit. It’s hilarious! 😂


Absolutely, yes, 100% thats not a ‘gotchya’ lmao Like i said a theres people that know exactly what theyre buying, and youre probably one of them. More power to yall. But the VAAAAST majority of apple users know jack about tech, thats just fact, we’re in a bubble where the people we talk to know how to read a spec sheet, and how apple have a monopoly over all apps on their phones. The average person does not


Insert Apu taking a bullet meme


Apple are assholes, but yes, you’re right about Valve. Gamers are mugs the way they give Valve a pass on this. 30% was justified when they were creating this market - and kudos to them on that score - but time has moved on and they’re just rent collecting on a massive scale these days

Kolanaki, (edited ) avatar

Yes. Valve is greedy because they take 30%. It’s totally not the people decrying that fact, who by the way, get 70%, aren’t greedy. The loudest of which is the operator of a competing service that is extremely anti-consumer.


The people who actually make the games and take all the risk, you mean?


Praise GabeN.


It’s because Valve is a private corporation, Gabe Newell has managed it well, they don’t hire idiots, and they pay their employees well.


I think it is more because of heavy encouraging of being proactive.


It’s because they have a near monopoly and take a huge cut of developer’s revenue


Last time I checked, Epic Games has plenty of money to compete. Monopoly implies competition is actively being stopped. Valve hasn’t done much to stop competition other than making a good product that people use.


No it doesn’t. Anticompetittive behaviour is a seperate issue. One often imployed by monopolists, but seperate nonetheless.


Epic Games also takes 5% of all games that use the Unreal engine, unless you use the Epic store.

Gabu, (edited )

take a huge cut of developer’s revenue

They don’t. No other platform will provide all of the benefits Steam provides for only 30% OR LESS of every sale.


30% is a huge cut. Epic takes 12%

When valve was establishing steam, 30% was justified. They had to invest in the product. They took a risk. They don’t have to now and they are profiteering.


Epic has admitted they’re taking a loss at 12%. Also, Epic’s store is shit, complete barebones, barely works as a way to buy games.


And valve have admitted they’re making more profit than anyone else in the space. I’m not saying they shouldn’t be allowed a profit, I’m saying there’s an argument that they (and Apple via the Apple store) are taking too much from the work of others

Gabu, (edited )

And that argument is idiotic, as proven by the fact that even bribing people to their shitty Epig Store, Epic can’t compete with the value Steam provides.

Differently from Apple, Steam hasn’t put any barriers in place to stop competitors nor have they forced exclusivity on publishers for their platform.


Irrelevant. Being good and popular doesn’t make them not a monopoly


Yay, I’ve found another illiterate person!

hasn’t put any barriers in place to stop competitors nor have they forced exclusivity on publishers for their platform.


“possession or control of the supply of or trade in a commodity or service.”


Is 30% on average “huge” considering the platform and total number of averages monthly users? I know that number does move around a bit as well.

I guess considering the ease of use for users and the fact that other platforms exist, they might be considered a monopoly only because nothing else of quality has shown up. It’s not like they’re buying out competitors and paying politicians to create laws and expectations to give them a competitive advantage. They’re literally just better than the other shit. Except arguably GoG which is solid in its own right, though not in the same ways as Steam.


Being a monopoly or near monopoly doesn’t mean that they’re automatically underhanded


I’ve despised steam ever since they forced it on me to play HL2.

I hate the store page that pops up whenever I want to play a game.

I hate the friends list.

I miss when I would just install a game and it was just an icon on my desktop. Now they think they should own my gaming experience and they’re so powerful I can’t say no.


Ok boomer

jerkface, avatar

that’s not what that means


That last para is missing the fact that you’d have to go to a store and buy a CD and come back home and play vs downloading in a few minutes in today’s time plus get insane discounts. Not to mention easily conquer compatibility issues. Also use controllers very easily including dualshocks. You can still have desktop icons, you can ignore the friends list, and disable notifications/pop-ups.

alessandro, avatar

You can download games using steamcmd (command line) and pick only games that are DRM free on Steam. Valve doesn’t force DRM (even it’s own one) so, if you see a game that require DRM (Steam or whatever) it’s solely because the publisher put the DRM into it.

Once you’ve downloaded your drm-free game through steamcmd, you can basically zip the folder and store your game wherever you want… even on the cloud (your own personal space, if you share it publicly it’s piracy).

Also, you’re not even forced to use Steam: and GoG are preferable ways to buy games and improve your drm-free wallet-vote situation.


I just want to comment that your comment covered all my bases so well I didn’t need to respond to OP myself

MxM111 avatar

Honestly, this is the power of near monopoly on PC market for games.


A whacking great cut of somebody else’s money will do that.


If people dont like the cut they can use another shop front or make their own. PC gaming isnt locked down to any specific store front


That’s not the reality for game devs

Dave, avatar

Steam let’s devs sell games anywhere and provide steam keys. There are many alternate stores you can buy games and get a steam key. I’m guessing that is one reason they have a big cut.

But also, I remember indie devs having to give up 60℅ of revenue to go on the larger indie game publishing sites.


Once again, they profit by accepting Steams cut, proving that Steam earns and deserves it. There, GoG, Epic, or they can go Minecrafts route and sell their game on their own site. Steam does nothing to hamper competition. Steams cut is entirely optional, a dev doesnt HAVE to put their game up on Steams marketplace. Steam is earning that cut by being a marketplace that brings devs more sales


No, they don’t have to use the largest and most popular storefront at all. Good economic e sense right there. People didn’t have to use Internet Explorer, but that was deemed a monopoly. The existence of alternatives doesn’t make them automatically economically viable

Kedly, (edited )

Yes, and their cut for letting you use the largest storefront out there that THEY BUILT AND GOT THERE, is 30%. If you are earning more money paying that 30% and being on their storefront than you would by rejecting that cut and listing somewhere else, than that is full proof that Steam is earning that cut.

Also, internet explorer came bundled with Windows and THATS why it was deemed a monopoly. You have to specifically choose to download Steam, it gets no starter advantage over the competition.

Steam is the most popular storefront because its the BEST storefront, there is no ulterior motivation putting it at the top, its just that all of its competition barring Itch and GoG are garbage. Steam is still better than the non garbage competition though and why it can get away with its incredibly minor option for built in DRM and its 30% cut. They use their cut to make an amazing storefront, and the developers who choose to pay that cut benefit from the customers that having the worlds best PC marketplace brings.


That stream is good doesn’t make it not a monopoly


What makes it not a monopoly is that it isnt. It has competitors, it does nothing to block competition. It is not responsible for its competition not being as good as it is.


The existence of competition doesn’t make it not a monopoly. Nor anticompetittive behaviour


Brainless take. “I want all of the benefits of a huge storefront with free advertisement and countless features that attract customers, but I don’t wanna pay for it!”


Brainless take. Valve is making money hand over fist. Most game devs are not making money. Valve aren’t creating any of the games, valve aren’t taking any of the risk


Do you think the payment processing, storage, content distribution, content delivery, social & communal aspects are free? Think for a second before writing your nonargument.


You’re arguing against obtuseness. I think it’s a close cousin of willful ignorance.



Gabu, (edited )

It is not.


It is. You ascribe an argument to me that I wasn’t making. It’s a strawman.


Point me to one service that provides as many benefits as Steam without taking a larger total cut than 30%. I’ll wait.


Please invest some into the Linux client. The dropdown click-through problem exists for years already, the source of the problem is known and would be easy to fix on your side.

Or develop an API coupled with your DRM, so the community could develop some good interfaces already.


Have you tried Windows?


I would rather give up on steam than switch to windows thank you very much


An open steam DRM API would be the end of Windows as an OS for gaming


Lol. No.


Was the reward for this performance being laid off to increase the quarter's metrics?


I don't think so as Valve is a private company.


Revenue per head is no doubt a sexy metric, especially for private companies. If it was a public company then investors would call for the company to try and grow its overall profits by spending more on growth related initiatives… Perhaps by releasing half-life 3 for example, lol.

The great thing about keeping your company private is that you can get it just where you like and keep it there no matter what outside parties want. I could totally see Gaben is perfectly satisfied making bank at this level while also having a chill lifestyle.


If the company were public the shareholders would say “great, now give the employees less and give us the difference”


The article is talking about net income per head, not revenue.


Why is money per employer a better metric than customer satisfaction?

Should an owner be more proud of their yatch size or of being a role model for customers not other millionaires? What’s their passion really, money or what they do for a living?

We clearly know where valve wants to be. I’m just surprised it’s a company that stands out.

Fuck shareholders.

AnUnusualRelic, avatar

It’s not a better metric. It’s a metric among others.


They said it’s a sexy metric, as in big numbers are cool. They never said it’s a particularly useful or “better” metric.


Actually earned profit too


What does that mean? They take a cut of every game sold, they didn’t make that product. They make the platform the games other people made are sold on.

It’s a good platform nonetheless, but IDK how much of it is actually “earned” as opposed to just a big cut taken from someone.


It’s well known that server infrastructure and software development is free


I never said those things were free. I did say the platform is good, but their income is from the games sold on the platform that other people made.

I don’t know what metric would properly capture money/time spent on infrastructure and servers, but I don’t think it’s “money per head” if that money is from games sold and doesn’t strictly relate to how good their platform performs.


If games company’s could make more money by not releasing on Steam, they would. The fact that they accept the 30% cut means that Steam is in fact leading to more sales for those developers and thus earns its cut. No one HAS to sell their product on Steam, PC’s are a completely open marketplace


When your employees are so efficient they start using their spare time to audit each other’s efficiency on an industry-wide metric.


I have heard that its not too hard to start your own project when working at valve.

Maybe it will turn into their next game, or a new steam feature or it will get canned.

Appoxo, avatar

I mean with that money printing machine and good reputation among users it’s no doubt be cozy for devs to start stuff without having someone breath down their neck for costing too much money or too high of a risk.


Is that still accurate? Their employees handbook was legendary a decade ago, but since then there have been rumours that this isn’t the case any longer, and that there were significant problems behind the scenes.


I think you can still work on whatever you want as long as GabeN wants it too.


I think that goes for most company structures


“So we’re getting pay rises, right?” Annakin.gif “Right?”


You should dive down the rabbit hole. Valve does not have a workplace like anything you’ve seen before, and the pay is just as fucked.

EDIT: Down the rabbit hole we go


How much did they compensate that bald man who they installed a valve in the back of his head for the loading screen photo?


That guy had it easy compared to the guy that had his eyeball replaced with a valve, and after everything he sacrificed they just stopped using his picture.


Like… In a good way?


I’ve added a video link to my original comment. should clarify a bit.


Some people aren’t in situations where they can watch videos unfortunately (I am scrolling at work)


My favourite factoid about that is that the minister of finance in Greece who was in charge during the Greek Debt Crisis was Yanis Varoufakis, the former economist-in-residence at Valve.


Woah woah woah, really?

I stumbled across a bunch of economic videos featuring him in the past. Yanis and Steam in the same sentence was never something I was expecting to see lol


Afaik he still praises their anarchist corporate management structure. Haven’t really looked into it, but if true kind of an L from a guy i really like otherwise


Can you expand more on why it’s an L? I have a lot of time for Varoufakis, I don’t agree with him on everything but I find him a very reasonable person.

Omniraptor, (edited )

Because he doesn’t call out their traditional centralized ownership structure, which is more important and will always “win” when it conflicts with the anarchist parts. The owners still have final say over the workers.


Back in 2021, indie developer Wolfire filed an antitrust lawsuit against Valve that accused the gaming giant of anti-competitive business practices—including a long-standing habit of taking unfair cuts from game developers on its store. Valve’s 30% fees have come under criticism before—and they are notably high when compared to some other online platforms.

Ouch. I didn’t realize they took such a big cut. On the other hand, authors trying to publish to Amazon’s kindle get hit with commissions from 30%-65% before any other fees, so Steam seems downright reasonable for that particular comparison.

From where I’m sitting, though, I’ve plenty of complicated feelings. Steam might be the best option out there, but monopolies aren’t great for anybody—at the same time, business is business.

Steam’s absurd efficiency could be a product of merciless penny-pinching from indie devs, but it’s just as likely we’re watching a well-oiled machine continue to belch out cash in an expected fashion.

Is it really a monopoly with everyone from EA to GoG delivering games? I guess it is dominant enough to count. I have a hard time complaining when employees are getting good pay and I’ve continued to get good service from them. It might get scarey if/when Gabe steps down, but this all feels pretty fair for now.

Leate_Wonceslace, avatar

Steam isn’t a monopoly; they have competition. As far as I’m aware, they also don’t have a mechanism to lock people out of the market, so there’s probably no danger of them becoming a monopoly. I have no idea why people are going around saying they’re a monopoly when they demonstrably aren’t.

unionagainstdhmo, avatar

I’ve been thinking about the 30% cut and I think to some extent Valve earn it. They’re not just hosting the download for your game and managing updates and payments. They’re also running your forum, running your multiplayer (if you take advantage of the Steam Datagram Relay), making mods easy to manage and share, making controller support easy to implement and making it easy to port to Linux and MacOS.

Apple and Google also take a 30% cut (+$100 USD/year and semi-recent Mac for Apple). In comparison I think Valve to a lot more to earn your 30% (even if I still think its a bit high considering how much money they make)

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