No sympathy with Paradox Interactive’s Fredrik Wester complaint about 70/30 revenue split

I used to buy every Paradox Interactive game released. Until, that is, the Swedish publisher decided to move all their games to Steam, and not allow them to be bought and played DRM-free, as they used to be in the past.

As someone who detests Steam and their business model, that effectively meant I would not be buying any more Paradox Interactive games. That is until they allowed some of their games to be sold on GOG a few years later.

So, when I heard this week that Paradox Executive Chairman of the Board, Fredrik Wester, was complaining about the 70/30 revenue split Steam and other mega-companies mandate for every developer listing their games on these distribution platforms, I have to admit I had little sympathy.

After all, Paradox chose to go with Steam, while also knowing about that appallingly unfair revenue split going into the deal. In effect, they supported Steam against their own long-term best interests.

While on a panel at Gamelab 2019 last week, however, Wester decided to comment on the 70/30 revenue split big game platforms now mandate.

“I think the 70/30 revenue split is outrageous,” Wester said. “I think the platform holders are taking too much money. Everyone in the press here, just quote me on that.”

He went on to explain a revenue split like that would make sense if companies like Steam were distributing actual physical copies of a game, as the costs involved in doing that are higher.

That they only distribute electronic copies of a game, however, means the 30 percent of the game price they keep for doing that really is “outrageous”.

That is why Wester is thrilled Epic Games is now changing the way the video game industry makes its profit by, instead of the standard 30 percent cut of a game price, only taking 12 percent.

That leaves the game’s developer and publisher with 88 percent of the sale price of a game. A far more reasonable charge.

Related: Watch Quill 18’s ‘Surviving Mars: A Guide for Beginners’ video series — if you want to play the Paradox game well that is

Epic Games, of course, is also inking exclusive deals with developers and publishers of new and older  games. A practice that is infuriating some in the industry, as well as some gamers, who prefer that Steam handle everything.

For me, while I have not as yet bought anything from Epic, I fully support what they are doing. Offering publishers and developers a decent revenue cut ratio for their games, instead of running a ripoff service a la Steam.

Having said that, though, I still have little sympathy for Paradox Interactive in all of this. No matter what Fredrik Wester says.

After all, by agreeing to only allow their games to be played via Steam, they have been supporting the monopoly Steam has become for years.

In other words, I’m not so sure Paradox Interactive has the right to complain.

Michelle Topham