Astute users of the popular video game distribution platform Steam recently took note of a clause in the platform’s distribution agreement which could have negative effects on the Epic Games Store and their various exclusivity agreements.
The clause was first noticed and brought to recent attention by Reddit user /u/GTAV_Alpha1, who provided a screenshot of the Delivery section of the Steam distribution agreement highlighting the Steam requirements regarding product delivery:
“Delivery. Company shall submit the Applications to Steam for release no later than the first commercial release of each Application or Localized Version, or, if already commercially released as of the Effective Date, within (30) days of the Effective Date. Thereafter, Company shall submit to Steam any Localized Versions and Application Updates (in beta and final form) when available, but in no event later than they are provided to any other third party for commercial release. Company shall provide these copies in object code form, in whatever format Valve reasonably requests.”
In essence, once a company has agreed to provide their game through the Steam platform, the company must provide the specified data (such as the full game release or updates) within the appropriate windows of time as specified by Steam.
While many outlets and persons discussing this clause have referred to it as “new,” it has in fact existed within the agreement since 2017, as reported by YouTuber SidAlpha after obtaining a copy of said agreement:
As the clause has been in place since 2017, it is interesting to note the declaration that “Company shall submit to Steam any Localized Versions and Application Updates (in beta and final form) when available, but in no event later than they are provided to any other third party for commercial release,” which could have possible legal ramifications for games such as Metro Exodus or Shenmue III. These games initially agreed to appear on Steam but were later removed from the platform due to signing exclusivity deals with the Epic Games Store. If the developers then failed to provide their files to Steam later than they would to the Epic Games Store, according to the Delivery clause, they would be in violation of this agreement. (Related: Ys Net Confirms Shenmue III Epic Game Store Exclusivity, Will Honor Refund Requests)
As of writing, Steam has not issued a statement regarding the recent attention being given to this clause.