245: Steam: A Monopoly In the Making

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I was trying to be friendly, and you say I'm the one setting a bad tone between us...

geizr:
A monopoly is not intrinsically bad, however, the abuse of monopoly position and power is. There is a very high probability for this abuse to occur only because the monopoly is controlled by human beings, hence the reason we have laws against such abuse but not against the existence of the monopoly(a lot of companies would have long since been dissolved, by law, if this were the case).

In fact, monopolies are a natural outcome of pure capitalism. If one wanted to eliminate the occurrence of monopolies, one would probably have to change to a more socialist or communist economic system.

Steam or valve ~is~ using it's position to force user to adopt it with exclusive contracts and bundling up with games on shelves. Nintendo did a lot worse in a way, but you get the idea.

Yes a monopoly is intrisically bad, like any relatively uncontrollable concentrations of power. We can resist it at least, and saner laws will do better than ideological extremes. Loopholes can always be plugged as they are found.

Sorry, I have no idea what you mean here. It's coming across too garbled, to me. I think you may be using some words incorrectly here.

I was making a reference to our private discussion that apparently you've given up in bad faith. Something you don't see me doing when you attack my own opinion...
Or I'm bein too hasty again, I'll try again: in a future where too many let monopolies control culture, because of a certain criminal fatalism, a monopoly will be extremely hard to fight.

As best as I can tell, Valve has created a best-of-breed offering. Other companies are free to compete with that, but, to my knowledge, their offerings pale in comparison. One could possibly argue that Steam's insane promotional sales are actually anti-competitive in the sense it may be the case that no competitor enjoys a sufficient percentage of the market to be enabled to make such offers to counter Steam. In that sense, Valve could be being subtlety nefarious through pricing, which is, in fact, one of the anti-competitive practices of monopolies, setting prices so ridiculously low that no competition is capable of making a counter-offer. We, as customers, enable and encourage the practice when we purchase games during moments of such extreme discounting(it would be stupid not to, to be honest; the deals are seriously sweet).

There is definitely some kind of anti-competitive manipulation in all of those price cuts, but at the same time the concurrence should try to emulate this. Also since it makes purchasing very convenient (but still has no impact on "piracy" mind you).
I wish it was easier to pay the game studios directly sometimes.

incal11:
I was trying to be friendly, and you say I'm the one setting a bad tone between us...

geizr:
A monopoly is not intrinsically bad, however, the abuse of monopoly position and power is. There is a very high probability for this abuse to occur only because the monopoly is controlled by human beings, hence the reason we have laws against such abuse but not against the existence of the monopoly(a lot of companies would have long since been dissolved, by law, if this were the case).

In fact, monopolies are a natural outcome of pure capitalism. If one wanted to eliminate the occurrence of monopolies, one would probably have to change to a more socialist or communist economic system.

Steam or valve ~is~ using it's position to force user to adopt it with exclusive contracts and bundling up with games on shelves. Nintendo did a lot worse in a way, but you get the idea.

Yes a monopoly is intrisically bad, like any relatively uncontrollable concentrations of power. We can resist it at least, and saner laws will do better than ideological extremes. Loopholes can always be plugged as they are found.

Sorry, I have no idea what you mean here. It's coming across too garbled, to me. I think you may be using some words incorrectly here.

I was making a reference to our private discussion that apparently you've given up in bad faith. Something you don't see me doing when you attack my own opinion...
Or I'm bein too hasty again, I'll try again: in a future where too many let monopolies control culture, because of a certain criminal fatalism, a monopoly will be extremely hard to fight.

As best as I can tell, Valve has created a best-of-breed offering. Other companies are free to compete with that, but, to my knowledge, their offerings pale in comparison. One could possibly argue that Steam's insane promotional sales are actually anti-competitive in the sense it may be the case that no competitor enjoys a sufficient percentage of the market to be enabled to make such offers to counter Steam. In that sense, Valve could be being subtlety nefarious through pricing, which is, in fact, one of the anti-competitive practices of monopolies, setting prices so ridiculously low that no competition is capable of making a counter-offer. We, as customers, enable and encourage the practice when we purchase games during moments of such extreme discounting(it would be stupid not to, to be honest; the deals are seriously sweet).

There is definitely some kind of anti-competitive manipulation in all of those price cuts, but at the same time the concurrence should try to emulate this. Also since it makes purchasing very convenient (but still has no impact on "piracy" mind you).
I wish it was easier to pay the game studios directly sometimes.

I'm not sure where you are getting that I was being mean here. I was simply responding with my disagreement to basic premise of your statements. I think you're once again trying to make more of my statements than is really there for the sake of being contentious.

Valve is not forcing the user to anything. User's are choosing Steam of their own volition, and the result of the consensus of that choice is that Steam has become dominant. There are plenty of alternatives out there, but they are of disputable quality and value in comparison; so, gamers don't typically choose those alternatives.

While I brought up the pricing issue, I left it only as a possibility because it has to be proven that Valve issued these discount with the intent of using their dominant position to price the competition out of the market. Basically, it would have to be proven that Valve used its dominant position to absorb a level of loss that its competition is not enabled to do for the expressed purpose of driving the competition out of the market. This would definitely be anti-competitive, and Valve would have to be held accountable for that under anti-trust laws.

No, monopolies are not intrinsically bad, only the abuse of monopoly power is. It is entirely possible to have a monopoly that does not cause a negative effect. The reason this is not usually the case is because of human behavior, not because of the monopoly's existence. I think you are again trying to put more into the situation than really exists.

Also, I think you should review the definition of the word "concurrence". It doesn't mean what you apparently think it means, because you are misusing it, horribly. It sounds like you mean "competition". Using "concurrence" or "concurrent" would be for the case of events or actions which occur simultaneously and independently.

geizr:
I'm not sure where you are getting that I was being mean here. I was simply responding with my disagreement to basic premise of your statements. I think you're once again trying to make more of my statements than is really there for the sake of being contentious.

If I misinterpret your tone it is not for the sake of being contentious, it would be because you are being overly cold for the sake of feeling superior. If that's not conscious, then Im telling you. (or you are an autist/asperger, in which case I'm honestly sorry)
My english certainly is not perfect, I did mean competition, thank you for correcting it. One thing received, one thing given.

While I brought up the pricing issue, I left it only as a possibility because it has to be proven that Valve issued these discount with the intent of using their dominant position to price the competition out of the market. Basically, it would have to be proven that Valve used its dominant position to absorb a level of loss that its competition is not enabled to do for the expressed purpose of driving the competition out of the market. This would definitely be anti-competitive, and Valve would have to be held accountable for that under anti-trust laws.

I agree with what you said just before. Steam's amount of price cuts are suspicicious if you compare them to those of the competition though. To prove it one way or the other would require a professional audit. In the meantime us, small consumers can only point to what business is heading toward a monopoly, and to what it's apparently doing to achieve it.

No, monopolies are not intrinsically bad, only the abuse of monopoly power is. It is entirely possible to have a monopoly that does not cause a negative effect. The reason this is not usually the case is because of human behavior, not because of the monopoly's existence. I think you are again trying to put more into the situation than really exists.

Yes, it is. A monopoly is an abuse of power by definition since it uses it to remain a monopoly, and throughout history monopolies had always been abusive. In this context a non abusive monopoly is nothing more than an utopia. To seek that kind of power is a basic behavior we share with rats, but since we pretend to be more evolved some of us try to resist those instincts. Power at any price isn't a human right and that should settle this.
If you understood History you'd see how what I said is very serious, even if it may not be of consequence for us or in the near future. Since we're not business engineers about to do an audit and settle the dispute about Steam's honesty, I don't see the harm in making the topic a bit more exciting.
Else there's really nothing to add in this topic, and you can go back to thinking of your answer to my last personal message.

For instance, I say culture is the treasure of all humanity and I have the declaration of human rights to back me up. I do not pretend that nobody should pay, and I have proof that at least as many as today still would pay if "piracy" wasn't considered wrong. Also even if the human rights are "more than there really is" I have evidences of why your analysis of the current environment for the enternaiment industry is wrong.
However if you are right then do better than haughtily dismiss it all, attack what I say directly and show me the truth.
You may have though that you already attacked it infaillibly, but such is my answer to your attack. You won't change my mind if you stop there, otherwise I will not flee and I will admit the superiority of your position.

incal11:

geizr:
I'm not sure where you are getting that I was being mean here. I was simply responding with my disagreement to basic premise of your statements. I think you're once again trying to make more of my statements than is really there for the sake of being contentious.

If I misinterpret your tone it is not for the sake of being contentious, it would be because you are being overly cold for the sake of feeling superior. If that's not conscious, then Im telling you. (or you are an autist/asperger, in which case I'm honestly sorry)
My english certainly is not perfect, I did mean competition, thank you for correcting it. One thing received, one thing given.

While I brought up the pricing issue, I left it only as a possibility because it has to be proven that Valve issued these discount with the intent of using their dominant position to price the competition out of the market. Basically, it would have to be proven that Valve used its dominant position to absorb a level of loss that its competition is not enabled to do for the expressed purpose of driving the competition out of the market. This would definitely be anti-competitive, and Valve would have to be held accountable for that under anti-trust laws.

I agree with what you said just before. Steam's amount of price cuts are suspicicious if you compare them to those of the competition though. To prove it one way or the other would require a professional audit. In the meantime us, small consumers can only point to what business is heading toward a monopoly, and to what it's apparently doing to achieve it.

No, monopolies are not intrinsically bad, only the abuse of monopoly power is. It is entirely possible to have a monopoly that does not cause a negative effect. The reason this is not usually the case is because of human behavior, not because of the monopoly's existence. I think you are again trying to put more into the situation than really exists.

Yes, it is. A monopoly is an abuse of power by definition since it uses it to remain a monopoly, and throughout history monopolies had always been abusive. In this context a non abusive monopoly is nothing more than an utopia. To seek that kind of power is a basic behavior we share with rats, but since we pretend to be more evolved some of us try to resist those instincts. Power at any price isn't a human right and that should settle this.
If you understood History you'd see how what I said is very serious, even if it may not be of consequence for us or in the near future. Since we're not business engineers about to do an audit and settle the dispute about Steam's honesty, I don't see the harm in making the topic a bit more exciting.
Else there's really nothing to add in this topic, and you can go back to thinking of your answer to my last personal message.

For instance, I say culture is the treasure of all humanity and I have the declaration of human rights to back me up. I do not pretend that nobody should pay, and I have proof that at least as many as today still would pay if "piracy" wasn't considered wrong. Also even if the human rights are "more than there really is" I have evidences of why your analysis of the current environment for the enternaiment industry is wrong.
However if you are right then do better than haughtily dismiss it all, attack what I say directly and show me the truth.
You may have though that you already attacked it infaillibly, but such is my answer to your attack. You won't change my mind if you stop there, otherwise I will not flee and I will admit the superiority of your position.

Dude! I don't know who the hell you think you are, but our conversations are over.

On topic.
A monopoly is a good thing for national utilities like water, electricity and the postal service. Under the condition of being heavily regulated however. So these are monopolies of service but (ideally) without much power over the way it is done.
Not quite a monopoly in the same sense than what private companies try to do.

OP if you ever read this, sorry for what just happened.
I was loosing my time with this hypocrite anyway.

I'll take a steam monopoly anytime over having 30 different market place tools that clog up my machine without giving me anything for it. The other alternatives are pure crap.

Steam has a great friends and groups system as well as actually working cloud synching, a working offline mode and its cheap deals. I'll take digital distribution if it is actually cheaper than the retail version of my games and this is what Steam does. The ingame functionality with an ingame browser etc. for most games is also great.
Only really bad thing is its pricing of 1$=1€=1whatever... it is not like they have that much higher costs for selling something in the EU to warrant this pricing... though I think publishers can set prices by region as they wish and most just try to make a little more by making their prices "the same".

Origin is pure, condensed turd with a shot of agent orange. It tries to be Steam but everything on it costs sooo much (often more than in the retail shops) and the friend etc. features aren't good. EA tries to boost it with some high profile exclusive titles (SWToR, BF3) but the one I own (BF3) still requires an additional browser-based platform (battlelog) for its server browser and friends management. Plus, there is this thing about scanning every single file on your computer and sending whoknowswhat information to EA. I won't support that thing, so I bought BF3 from the cheapest retail trader (interantional resale of cheap keys is huge). Sure, I went for one of their exclusive titles but they won't see much money from me.
Plus, it is from EA.

The ubisoft thing is kinda ok. It isn't intrusive and I used it for RUSE (bought on Steam, worked very well in conjunction to Steam) and Anno2070 (only realize it is there while launching the game). Works great because they don't try to be steam, they seem to try to find their own niché by being low profile.

Impulse... I used it for Sins of a Solar Empire and didn't like it back then. It slowed my computer down too much and it didn't have a lot to go for it in terms of sales or even a lot of games that you could buy there. I now checked the site again and I gotta say that the avalable games and their special offers look a lot better now. Plus, their pricing seems to reflect €<->$ pretty well. I'll keep an eye on this to grab a few nice offers but I'll probably stay with Steam.

Direct2Drive can die in the fire imo. It had a a nice promotion I'd have liked to buy but after I signed up and downloaded their tool, it switched from "welcome, nice you want to give us money" to "you aren't living in the US so GTFO scrub". Don't know if they are now dealing here, too... but it didn't seem back then that they wanted my money so they won't get any.

As a service Steam serves up just about everything I required.
-Most games I want (besides EA getting teritorrial with Origins now)
-Decent to really cheap prices
-Simple user interface
-Simple billing
-The ability to play offline*

*This one's key

I had noticed the steamworks ploy on New Vegas, which was annoying, especially because I bought the physical game disk right before leaving the US for overseas, which resulted in a digital [This game has not been released here yet; have a nice day] message. It would be nice if publishers or whoever at least kept things in their respective corners. Physical game disks may require DRM, if that's the poison they pick, but don't glump [superfluous] features along with the game.

To liken Steamworks/Steam to IE/Windows is a very poor comparison at best because requiring your user to install Steam if you use Steamworks makes sense because that's all Steamworks does - enable the game direct integration with Steam services. If your game is not dependent on Steam services, there's no reason to use Steamworks - but you can still use Steam as a distributor.

Now, if say the Source Engine required Steam usage, that would be a much better comparison - because Source and Steam are capable of existing independently and handle entirely different functions.

But saying that Steamworks requiring Steam is monopolistic would be like saying if a website chooses to use Facebook as their commenting system - or chooses to segregate Facebook comments from other comments... In order to participate in specific strings of the discussion, you are required to use a Facebook login. And then accusing Facebook of the monopoly. All the Facebook commenting API -does- is integrate your commenting system with Facebook.

Now, I will agree that forcing Steam exclusivity from an out of the box product is poor form and something that in hindsight I'm not really happy about with things like Fallout: NV - but it's not like this is a new practice. This practice in and of itself is anti-competitive - but it was not anti-competitive on Steam's front. It was Bethesda's decision to make Fallout: NV Steam exclusive, not Valve's. Fallout: NV really didn't have any hugely overarching need to utilize Steamworks at all - it doesn't support have multiplayer, it doesn't have microtransactions, at best there was patch distribution, but honestly: Bethesda used Steam pure and simple as DRM. We can argue that DRM is anti-competitive as well; however in such a case, using Steamworks again, had nothing to do with this and if it hadn't been Steamworks it would have been something else.

I just fail to see any real anti-competitive behavior on Valve's end other than having a service everyone wants to use. Steamworks forcing users to install Steam, again, is not anticompetitive because all that Steamworks -does- is integrate your game with Steam to the point that they are inseparable. Steam is a separate entity from Steamworks. Steamworks, however, cannot be separated from Steam because that's all it does.

Now, there's a significant difference between monopolies and anti-competitive practices. Your examples of Intel was that Intel was reprimanded for anti-competitive practices, not of actually having a borderline monopoly; and those are two entirely separate things that I feel are missed by the author here.

I'm fully aware that Valve could "go bad", but Valve maintaining such a huge market share even as the physical retail industry dwindles is highly unlikely now that we've seen things like Origin pop up as well as the seriously stuff competition that places like Amazon have started to present. If Valve all the sudden changed its tune and started participating in anti-competitive practices, then there's something to be done. But Steamworks isn't it.

Concerning Intel: Intel gave kickbacks to executives in order to kill AMD based low and mid end PCs (where Intel's prices are not competitive with AMD). That, not the simple large market share, is why Intel lost all those anti-trust suits. There was a shitload of ill intent involved.

otakucode:
Other than the fact that you don't have to go to a retail store to pick up a game, can you think of any instance in which Valve chose to pass along the advantages of digital distribution on to gamers? There are none.

You mean, aside from Steam having sales that allow me to get basically any game I want for five or ten bucks if I wait a period of time that's usually less than a year for a holiday sale? And aside from it allowing me to install my game on any computer I log into Steam on? And aside from Steam keeping my display settings and game saves synched across computers? And sending me emails when games on my wishlist are on sale? And randomly giving me free games occasionally for no reason? And giving me trading cards for playing games I already own that allow me to do cool things with my profile and occasionally get free games?

Yeah, I can't think of a single way the advantages of digital distribution are passed on to me.

Monopolies. Monopolies everywhere.

YouTube just turned evil. Google as a whole has turned evil with it's pushing of its Google + BS down our throats and their shenanigans with Android (open source my ass).

Steam ... It's only a matter of time.

Edit: Oh yes, I nearly forgot, Amazon and ebooks.

I really wished the US government would keep a tighter leash on their corporations.

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