Valve COO Throws Epic Shade with “You Mad Bro?” to CEO Tim Sweeney’s Angry Mail


Valve COO Throws Epic Shade with “You Mad Bro?” to CEO Tim Sweeney’s Angry Mail

Surya Kumar
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The ongoing US Antitrust Lawsuit against Valve by Indie studio Wolfire has uncovered some interesting discourses involving Steam CEO Gabe Newell, Epic CEO Tim Sweeney, and other Valve staff.
In a mail sent out to Valve’s senior staff members, Sweeney referred to the company as “you assholes” due to Steam’s platform fees.
Hilariously, Valve COO Scott Lynch forwarded this email to Gabe Newell and Erik Johnson with the comment “You Mad Bro?”

For those unaware, Valve is involved in an ongoing legal battle with Wolfire Games, an Indie game development studio that allegedly states that the Steam platform has an unfair monopoly to weed out rivals and even control game prices. While Valve initially tried to dismiss the case, it has since then turned into a US antitrust lawsuit, thus demanding both parties to reveal internal information including letters and emails, to the general public.

Among the large sum of documents, a notable exchange between Epic CEO Tim Sweeney and Valve CEO Gabe Newell, COO Scott Lynch, and Project Manager Erik Johnson caught the attention of the masses.

Epic CEO Tim Sweeney Refers to Valve as “You Assholes” Over Steam’s 30% Platform Fees

First spotted by The GameDiscoverCo, the main context of this thread of conversations happens to be about Steam’s store pricing and the commission for showcasing a game on Valve’s platform. This is where Tim Sweeney expressed his difference of opinion, saying that the higher platform fees are no longer justifiable. 

He continues, “There was a good case for them in the early days, but the scale is now high and operating costs have been driven down, while the churn of new game releases is so fast that the brief marketing or UA value the storefront provides is far disproportionate to the fee. If you subtract out the top 25 games on Steam, I bet Valve made more profit from most of the next 1000 than the developer themselves made.”

The second mail from Sweeney dates back to December 2018, this time with a clear suggestion that he is mildly infuriated at Valve, likely due to their implementation of a “sliding scale” royalty policy, which reduces their cut to 25% for most games and 20% for grossing games on their site.

Note that this is also the time when Epic is gearing up to launch its very own Steam competitor, the Epic Games Store (EGS), along with the early stages of the antitrust lawsuit between Epic and Apple which is ongoing to this day. Sweeney’s persuasion skills come to light with the following:

“Right now, you assholes are telling the world that the strong and powerful get special terms, while 30% is for the little people. 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?”

What followed after is a simple yet hilarious response to Tim Sweeney’s frustration, as COO Scott Lynch forwards the mail internally to Gabe Newell and Erik Johnson with “You Mad Bro?” Of course, one can only imagine Sweeney fuming with anger if he got to read it at the time. 

While this was a funny recollection of past events, the ongoing battle between Valve and Wolfire goes beyond these discourses. Such a lawsuit can be extremely expensive, and although we know Valve is capable of handling its legal expenditures, questions arise as to how the Indie developer is funding their case, especially considering that they are currently asking the court to resolve this as a class action lawsuit.

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Surya has been an avid gamer all his life with an emphasis on single-player titles since the PlayStation 2 era. After switching to PC, he has also dabbled in the world of Valorant ever since its beta. He aims to spread his passion for gaming through his writing.

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