Steamworks has the exact same effect on the PC gaming market as Microsofts API suite had on the commercial PC sector. It binds developers to your system (front and back end), it stifles competition but making it hard for devs to integrate and support that competition.
Microsoft still has a giant API suites, and the C/C++ suite grew even during the time that they were under supervision for antitrust violations. An API suite isn't in and of itself an antitrust violation, even though it binds developers because they have to learn skills specific to that API.
The issue is how those API build a closed system and vendor lock in.
A good example is the difficultly connecting to a 3rd party database. All the API's and tools Favoured MS-SQL, or email integration that worked only with a Outlook/Exchange combo.
Supporting code for competitors was additional work and as Microsoft market share grew, it becomes harder and harder to take that cost in work for a smaller return. So competition is stifled, MS get more dominant and the next generation of software is even less likely to be able to support competition.
What happened with Microsoft, is their actions made other Great and powerful people nervous. It wasn't the likes of me, the developers pushing out code in the 90s, that had any effect on the trial happening, it was politicians, oligarchs and others of that ilk.
A small part of that power, a part of what lets people become good politicians and businesspeople, is the ability to understand the rules for writing a complaint. Just saying "Steamworks" three times and adding capitalisation on the third time isn't making a case for an anti-trust complaint, so again, what's the current action that they're violating trust with?
I've told you out right the biggest single reason Indie developers have given me for why their game won't be coming to GOG is their reliance on Steamworks and not being able to afford to support other APIs.
I've given you a clear reason and a historical equivalent with Microsoft, but you won't except any thing that isn't Gabe Newell kidnapping a Developers daughter and tying her to a railway track.
Tim Sweeney has said Steamworks (mainly its Multiplayer functionality) is a huge hurdle for market competition, and seeks to readdress this by making Multi player Crossplay a requirement for furture Epic releases.
https://www.escapistmagazine.com/valve-triumphs-over-german-consumer-group mechmouse: octalot:
A large part of why Valve hasn't been pulled in for Anti-trust, is because it "just games" and nothing important, not a threat to anyone with power. Leaving it for consumer groups and their $50/h lawyers to take on Valve and its army of $500/h lawyers (note Valve once had a case dismissed claiming "Games might not be software" if you want to know the level of legal chicanery they're capable of)
Valve has been pulled in for antitrust, but it's been for specific actions. For example, setting up their DRM so that games bought in eastern EU countries (where incomes are generally lower) couldn't be activated elsewhere in the EU got them a €1.6m fine. https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_21_170
Can you provide a link to the "games might not be software" case? I can't find the exact quote, and those words match too many articles to sift through looking for an inexact match.
That was 2014
So painfully expensive and difficult it is to take a corporation to court, they consumer group has (AKIAK) been able to reopen the trial (or they have and Valve's lawyers are keeping them in legal limbo)
What's also galling is how celebratory that article is on the loss of consumer rights.
No, they do not have a choice. The API is a customer demand...
I am happy if a bunch of stupid devs are still using Vulkan or own incompatible APIs (which will be difficult to make it work with the critical Steam features, demanded by the majority), but this is not recommended for most devs... as they have to focus on this platform anyway... it is kinda forced.
Steamwork is just an API which will allow for easy "Steam features integration", so it is commonly used in order to make those customers happy. Although, it is not a critical API such as DX or Vulkan, without a graphic API the game will fail to work.
Except for Multiplayer where its the de facto standard and critical