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About the Claim

What is the claim about?

We believe that since at least 5 June 2018 Valve Corporation has been abusing its dominant position in the PC gaming market and charging UK customers too much for PC games and add-on content for these games through its PC Game distribution platform Steam.

We say Valve Corporation is breaching competition law by:

  • imposing price restrictions that mean that games sold on Steam cannot be sold for less on any other distribution platform;
  • Imposing restrictions on the price and timing of add-on content for games, meaning that other distribution platforms cannot offer add-on content for lower prices than Steam, through a sale or offer it earlier than on Steam;
  • restricting gamers ability to purchase add-on content through any other platform, meaning purchases are tied to the game and Valve is able to charge a commission; and
  • charging an excessive commission on games published on Steam, which results in inflated prices for consumers.

This behaviour has led to UK consumers paying too much for PC games and add-on content and has negatively impacted competition in the market. Pricing restrictions have enabled Valve Corporation to continue charging an excessive commission because there is no viable competition. Read more about the claim and by viewing our key documents.

The claim is against Valve Corporation. Valve owns Steam – the largest digital distribution platform for PC games.

We allege that Valve’s conduct amounts to an abuse of its dominant position which is in breach of UK competition law.

This conduct can be summarised through three key issues:

  1. Price parity obligation clauses: We say that Valve Corporation imposes price parity clauses that prevent game developers from offering better prices on PC-games and add-on content on rival platforms. These price parity clauses apply to all games listed on Steam, not only those distributed via Steam Keys. The restrictions limit consumer choice, result in higher prices for PC games in the market (as no other platform can offer a game cheaper) and harm competition in the market (which would encourage better services and platforms for gamers).
  2. Tying: We say that Valve Corporation imposes restrictions that mean add-on content for games on Steam must also be purchased from Steam. We say that add-on content is a separate product to a base PC game because if it was possible to buy the add-on content for a better price through a competitor, customers may do so. Valve imposes restrictions that steer consumers to purchase add-on content from Steam. Tying PC games and add-on content together in this way is anti-competitive as these conditions are unilaterally imposed without publisher choice and, as a result, PC gamers are not enabled to make informed choices and must purchase add-on content through Steam (where a commission is then taken).
  3. Excessive pricing: We argue that Valve Corporation has imposed an excessive commission of up to 30% that is passed on to the consumer, resulting in inflated prices on its Steam platform.

You can read more about the claim in the Summary Claim Form which will shortly be published on the website.

This collective legal action seeks compensation for PC gamers who may have paid too much for PC games and add-on content as a result of Valve Corporation’s actions. This claim is not about shutting down Steam or restricting gamer access to the platform, but it is about ensuring that Steam does not operate in a way that is detrimental to the consumer.

This claim aims to promote fair competition and fair pricing within the digital gaming industry. This means ensuring dominant companies like Valve do not stifle competition in the market. Fair competition means that consumers get better services and better prices.

Vicki Shotbolt is seeking financial compensation for affected PC gaming consumers to compensate them for the inflated prices they have paid as a result of the alleged anti-competitive conduct. Other potential outcomes include changes in Valve Corporation’s business practices and how it operates Steam, or other remedies deemed appropriate by the Tribunal.

Our current estimate is that compensation is likely to be around £22 to £44 per person depending on the amount an individual has spent on PC games. There may also be further compensation available to those based in Scotland. There is no guarantee at this point that you will receive any money but there will be no cost to any individual at any point throughout the claim.

The aggregate compensation is estimated at £656 million for a total of around 14 million PC gamers. Collective claims like this one enable consumers to get redress for the harms of large companies in circumstances where individual compensation may be of a smaller value, but across the whole group the amount is significant.

If the case is won, the aggregate damages will be distributed to those who have been affected by Valve Corporation’s anti-competitive practices.

It can take several years to resolve disputes of this scale.

The collective proceedings claim against Valve was filed at The Competition Appeal Tribunal (‘Tribunal’) on 5 June 2024. This is the first step for collective proceedings. Next, the Tribunal will decide whether to certify the claim. This will be based on its assessment of whether the claim can be brought as collective proceedings, and the suitability of Vicki Shotbolt to represent those who have been affected. 

If the Tribunal certifies the claim it is granting it permission (in the form of a Collective Proceedings Order) to progress to trial. At trial, the Tribunal will hear evidence from both sides (the claimant and defendant) and decide whether to award damages to those affected by the allegations.

The parties are able to agree to an out-of-court settlement at any point during the litigation, including before trial. Any settlement must be approved by the Tribunal.

This claim is an opt-out proceedings. This means you are automatically included in the Proposed Class if you have paid for PC games or add-on content from 5 June 2018. Sign up to stay updated as the claim progresses.

About the class

Vicki Shotbolt is seeking compensation for everyone who paid for PC video games or add-on content in the UK from 5 June 2018. For those based in Scotland, this date may extend further back.

The group of people who have been affected are known as the Class – find out more about how the Proposed Class of affected gamers is defined.

The proposed class of claimants for the purpose of the Claim (known as the “Proposed Class” and “Proposed Class Members” or “PCMs”) consists of:

All Persons who, during the Relevant Period, made one or more payments for the purpose of purchasing:

  1. PC Games;
  2. Add-on content for PC Games, including subscription payments for PC Games and/or add-in content (collectively “Relevant Purchases”).

For the purposes of this definition of the Proposed Class (“Class Definition”):

  1. “Persons” means, in respect of Relevant Purchases, the person who was licensed to use the acquired content, typically the account holder.
  2. “Class Period” means the period up to the date of the Collective Proceedings Order in these proceedings: (i) from 4 June 2018, in relation to members of the Class domiciled in England, Wales and Northern Ireland; and (ii) from 1 January 2010 in relation to members of the Class domiciled in Scotland.
  3. “PC Games” means video games designed to be played on PCs (i.e. personal computers), as opposed to on other types of hardware such as consoles or mobiles, including PCs built by Apple and/or using a Mac operating system.
  4. “Add-on Content” means content that can be added-on to PC Games that is purchased after the initial acquisition of the game, sometimes referred to as Downloadable Content (“DLC”), and includes content acquired through Microtransactions completed during gameplay.

All Persons who fall within the definition of the Proposed Class and, on a date of domicile to be determined by the Tribunal, are:

  1. domiciled in the UK, are proposed to be included in the Proposed Class; and
  2. not domiciled in the UK, are proposed to be permitted to opt-in to the proceedings.

In respect of any person who meets the Class Definition but has subsequently died, the Class will include their legal representative, a successor or assignee.

You need to have been over 13 years old when the claim was filed on 5 June 2024 to be included in the Proposed Class. This is because it will be the account holder who made the purchase who will be the member of the Proposed Class. This means that you can be part of the claim on your own behalf if you are 13 or over, as this is the minimum age to sign up to a Steam (or other gaming) account.

If you are younger than 13 and playing PC games, then it will be the account holder that will be included in the Proposed Class, who may be a parent or guardian.

If you are over 13 but under 18 and purchased games or add-on content through your own account, then you will be in the Proposed Class (even if the purchase was paid for by card of a parent or guardian) but we will ask you for the details of your parent or guardian for any update emails we might send.

You do not need to do anything. Proposed Class Members, (see the Proposed Class definition above), will automatically be included in the claim. You can sign up for updates as which we will provide as the claim progresses.

If you don’t want to be a part of the claim, you will need to opt-out. You will be given the chance to opt-out if the claim is certified. We will publish an option for doing this on this website as soon as the claim reaches this stage.

If you are within the Proposed Class, you will be included in the claim, even if you are no longer a Steam user.

There is no risk for Proposed Class Members.

You will not have to pay anything at any stage in the claim, even if it is unsuccessful. You will not face any personal risk in relation to these proceedings.

For more detail on who is paying for the claim, see Who is funding the claim?

About the legal framework

Competition law seeks to curb practices that undermine or restrict competition to the detriment of consumers. Competition law infringements include abuses of dominant market positions by companies.

Collective proceedings can only be brought in the Competition Appeal Tribunal, which specialises in resolving competition law disputes.

Collective proceedings are when a group of people affected by the same issue are represented by a single person to bring a claim. It provides important access to justice in circumstances where they might not otherwise be able to bring a claim.

Consumers can use collective proceedings to hold large companies to account. Collective actions need class representatives and the proposed class representative in this claim is Vicki Shotbolt.

The group of claimants is referred to as a ‘class’ and each claimant in the group is referred to as a ‘class member’.

The first step in bringing collective proceedings is to apply for authorisation from the Competition Appeal Tribunal. This is achieved by filing an application for a Collective Proceedings Order. This Order of the Tribunal authorises the proposed class representative to act on behalf of the class and certifies the individual claims for inclusion in the collective proceedings. Vicki Shotbolt filed this application for Collective Proceedings on 5 June 2024.

Collective proceedings are categorised as ‘opt-in’ or ‘opt-out’, according to the way in which claimants are admitted to the class(es). Opt-in collective proceedings require class members to sign up to participate in the claim, while opt-out proceedings include everyone who falls within the class definition approved by the Tribunal in the claim, allowing individuals who prefer not to be included in the proceedings to opt out.

This claim is brought on an opt-out basis.

This is one of the earliest procedural milestones of a collective proceeding. When the Competition Appeal Tribunal ‘certifies’ a collective proceeding, it authorises the class representative to act for the class members and grants the class representative their application for a Collective Proceedings Order. This means the claim can proceed to trial, unless it is settled beforehand.

A case management conference (also referred to as a CMC) is a step in litigation used by the Competition Appeal Tribunal to give directions as to the way the case is to be conducted and to set up the future timetable.

About the team

Vicki is a leading campaigner for children’s digital rights. She is the founder and CEO of The Parent Zone, which specialises in understanding the impact of online services/digital technologies on families and children.

Parent Zone’s work includes advising on government policy and commissioning independently funded research to inform its work with families and advocacy activity. Vicki is dedicated to working to improve the lives of children in an increasingly digital world.

Vicki is seeking permission, via Vicki Shotbolt Class Representative Limited, to bring this action against Valve Corporation because she believes that users of Steam have been treated unfairly and she wants to make Valve Corporation compensate consumers.

Vicki Shotbolt, via Vicki Shotbolt Class Representative Limited, is seeking permission from the Competition Appeal Tribunal to act as the class representative in the claim.

A class representative is a person who represents those who are in the class. The class representative conducts the collective proceedings against the defendants on behalf of all class members, except those who opt out, and instructs the legal team.

A class representative is responsible for communicating with and issuing formal notices to the class members. We intend to facilitate this via updates and announcements posted on this website, email correspondence and written notices.

Until permission is granted by the Tribunal, Vicki Shotbolt Class Representative Limited is known as the ‘Proposed Class Representative’.

Sign up if you would like to receive updates relating to this claim.

Milberg London LLP  is a leading consumer advocacy law firm. It is highly experienced in handling complex collective action claims.

Milberg has worked on some of the biggest consumer cases to be heard before UK courts, including an up to £5 billion consumer claim against Sony Playstation which alleges the popular gaming platform has forced up prices for around 8.9 million UK consumers.

Funding the claim

No, there will be nothing to pay at any point.

Vicki has secured funding to cover the costs of the claim, which means you do not pay anything to be part of the claim and will not have to at any point. See Who is funding the claim.

Vicki Shotbolt has secured litigation funding from Bench Walk Advisors.

The legal team at Milberg are working on a conditional fee agreement (‘CFA’), which means only part of their standard fee is paid (by Bench Walk Advisors). The remaining fee is conditional on the success of the claim. This is common where class representatives are not able to fund a claim of this size and public importance on their own.

If the claim is successful, the funder and legal team will receive a fee or uplift in exchange for taking on the risks of the claim. This is common in all cases funded by third-party funders and via CFAs. The fee is calculated depending on the stage the case has reached and how much the class representative has spent.

The Tribunal oversees the amount of the success fees paid to lawyers and funders and the distribution of any compensation to the Class Members.

If the claim is not successful, the funder will not receive anything and the legal team will only receive its discounted fees for the work undertaken.

The Tribunal has powers to order the payment of fees, any uplift or other legal expenses or disbursements from an award of damages, either before or after distribution to the Class Members.


This type of litigation is essential to help address the imbalance of power that hugely favours big corporations to the detriment of consumers. Big businesses like Valve Corporation should not be able to get away with unlawful behaviour simply because the legal system is currently stacked in their favour.

For most people the idea of taking on big business is quite terrifying (if possible at all) and potentially ruinous. Collective Proceedings enable claims like this one to be brought on behalf of millions of consumers who could not bring claims alone. This was why the collective actions regime in the Competition Appeal Tribunal was established by the government in 2015, recognising that there were huge challenges with access to justice for consumers.