Apple Wants Valve To Hand Over A Bunch Of Steam Info For Its Fight With Epic

Apple Wants Valve To Hand Over A Bunch Of Steam Info For Its Fight With Epic
Screenshot: Valve
To sign up for our daily newsletter covering the latest news, features and reviews, head HERE. For a running feed of all our stories, follow us on Twitter HERE. Or you can bookmark the Kotaku Australia homepage to visit whenever you need a news fix.

Epic Games’ legal battle against Apple over App Store fees continues to drag on into ever weirder and more esoteric fronts. The latest development? Apple is actively trying to subpoena years of in-depth sales information from Valve about all of the games listed on Steam, in order to show that Epic has plenty of other places to ply its Fortnite wares.

“Apple and Valve have engaged in several meet and confers, but Valve has refused to produce information responsive to Requests 2 and 32,” reads a new joint discovery letter spotted by PC Gamer that was filed earlier this week. Request 2 includes complete annual data like sales, revenue, and other financial information from “total yearly sales of apps and in-app products.” Request 32 is a complete list of every app on Steam, the years it was available, and what it was priced at. You know, just a quick look at the life-blood of Valve’s business.

The root issue in the ongoing dispute between Epic and Apple is whether the latter has a monopoly-like position within the world of smartphone app distribution, and as a result is abusing that position to levy unfair and unreasonable commissions on all the apps sold through its platform. To try to prove that the App Store is not monolithic and Epic has other options, Apple wants to collect data from other competitors to show that the Fortnite maker can do just fine elsewhere.

Report: Epic Games Is Behind U.S. App Store Bill

Epic Games lobbyists drafted legislation that will be heard in North Dakota this week, attempting to bar app stores owned by the likes of Apple and Google from taking a cut of app sales, according to a report over the weekend by The New York Times.

Read more

“Valve admits that the information requested exists in some undisclosed, readily accessible format, but generically claims it won’t produce the information because it is confidential or too burdensome to gather in the manner Apple requested,”Apple’s side of the joint statement reads. Valve already did supply Apple with some information, but the iPhone manufacturer decided it was insufficient. It’s now calling on the court to compel the digital gaming storefront to comply, as it had done previously with Samsung.

“As this Court recognised with respect to Samsung, this information is ‘relevant to showing the extent of competition’ among digital distribution platforms available to distribute Fortnite, including the Apple App Store,” Apple argues. However, the Samsung Galaxy Store is nowhere near as big a marketplace as either the App Store or Steam.

For its part, Valve maintains that getting all this info to Apple would both be a lot of work, since unlike Samsung it’s a privately held company and doesn’t engage in the same detailed level of record keeping, and also that Steam has nothing to do with the larger pissing contest. “Somehow, in a dispute over mobile apps, a maker of PC games that does not compete in the mobile market or sell ‘apps’ is being portrayed as a key figure,” reads its portion. “It’s not.” (Valve seems to have forgotten that it released the auto-battler Dota Underlords last year on both iOS and Android).

I don’t necessarily buy this argument that Valve is just a side-player in these ongoing discussions about market monopolies, but it’s also extremely entertaining to watch the virtual hat seller get snippy with the ninth largest company in the world. We’ll see what the court ultimately decides.

Comments

  • The fact Apple thinks Valve are relevant to this particular situation is honestly incredible, their lawyers must be desperate. And so is this author.

    “Oh no they released a game on the platform, they’re clearly a market leader on the platform! They’ve lied to us all!”

    You can talk all you want about Steam’s monopoly on PC, but implying they are relevant to this particular shitshow over Apple’s store is beyond moronic. Apple’s part and path here is so unrelated Valve may as well be fuckin’ shoe salesmen.

    I swear Valve could cure cancer and Kotaku would spin some negative out of it just to try and blame them for something else.

    • I agree that the statement was typically hyperbolic. After all, hyperbole generates clicks and clicks pay blogger’s wages.

      Still, Valve claims in its statement that it “does not compete in the mobile market or sell ‘apps’” where in fact it does actually produce an app product and makes mobile cash from that mobile product. In the circumstances “Valve seems to have forgotten…” is hardly some kind of slamin take down.

      Like most posts around here, you’re reading somewhat overblown, colourful language as some kind of nefarious conspiracy to malign your own preferred platform. In fact, every platform and store is subject to an equal-opportunity pasting whenever the opportunity arises. Strongly worded opinions are simply more entertaining to read, generate more clicks, and trigger more overblown responses such as yours than balanced, milquetoast ones.

      Welcome to the 21st century. The world is not out to get you or yours, specifically, it’s out to get everyone.

  • Apple: Buys, sells and controls the platform on which everything they do is on.

    Valve: Makes a piece of software that people can choose to download and use.

    Yeah, totally the same… What next? Are they gonna go after Ubi, EA and Activation too? Or maybe they will just go to Epic? Apple should be going after Sony or MS or Nintendo, as there more relevant. Nintendo would be the closest thing to Apple in the games industry I would think.

  • Epic might have other platforms, but Apple’s customers are largely locked into Apple’s platform and would find it difficult to move.

  • I don’t understand what Steam has to do with anything when it’s the mobile platform that is the issue. Can you install Steam on iOS and access a wealth of game apps? No. So how would you access Fortnite on iOS through Steam?

    If they are talking about playing Fortnite on Mac, that was never an issue as Epic had its own native launcher for Mac. We did not need the App Store to install and play Fortnite. It was only once this feud started that Fortnite went away for Mac users.

    • It’s not about the distinction between platforms, it’s about the practices.
      When this all kicked off the judge (and other experts) said this whole case covered a lot of untested ground and would inevitably draw in a lot of complex arguments.

  • This request is incredibly sus. Something tells me apple always wanted steams sales data for their own reasons but never had a means to get it. And now they are abusing a subpoena to get it.

    • It all makes sense now! Apple manipulated Epic into suing them for monopolistic practices simply so that they could get their hands on Valve’s sales data.

    • I suppose any company could find some benefit in long term sales data to some degree but what’s telling you Apple is so keen to get the info for some other purpose?
      Epic seems like the ones who would be chomping at the bit for that data, they already stole/steal Steam data from consumers if memory serves me.

      • Apple does have their Arcade project which is game development and look to be merging that into their Mac platform to provide ports to Macs. I’m sure they’d be very eager to know what Steam’s cash cows are as I’m sure there’s plenty of indie titles that are still making a pretty penny in addition to the usual suspects.

      • ” I suppose any company could find some benefit in long term sales data to some degree but what’s telling you Apple is so keen to get the info for some other purpose? ”

        Because the request is incredibly broad, And data is the main currency of choice in the tech industry. Especially in silicon valley.

        You gotta remember that Valve is not a publicly-traded company, So they aren’t required to publicly declare a lot of info other publicly traded companies have to.

        Apple is slowly moving into the games industry. And it would no doubt benefit from Valves data (Just not in this lawsuit)

    • It’s not unusual in court to need information for a case that a party should not be able to use outside of court. The usual way it is handled is for the party’s lawyer only to be given access to the information, with penalties if they disclose it. Or in extreme cases, the judge might view the information and decide whether it is relevant.

  • I’m not sure Dota Underlords really helps Apple’s case at all: after all Valve isn’t selling it as a retailer on either Apple’s or Google’s platforms, even though they’ve probably got the customer relationships and technical know-how to deal directly with mobile users, if the platforms allowed it.

    If anything, Valve’s decision to work with the platform holders rather than compete seems to support Epic’s case that Apple is a monopoly.

    • Well, yes. But the Dota Underlords line was a throw away by the article author, in response to a specific line in Valve’s submission to the court, it’s hardly the basis on which Apple is making its legal case.

      Apple is trying to get data from Valve in order to attempt to make the argument that the relevant market in which to determine whether a monopoly exists is all computer games, not just games released on iOS.

Show more comments

Log in to comment on this story!