Court Orders Valve To Hand Over Data On 436 Steam Games To Apple

Court Orders Valve To Hand Over Data On 436 Steam Games To Apple
Screenshot: Valve
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Apple has been asking a bunch of companies to give it confidential information in its ongoing legal battle with Epic Games over how much money each company gets to collect off of Fortnite skin sales on the iPhone. Yesterday, a California magistrate judge ordered Valve to comply with one of these requests and hand over financial data on hundreds of games sold through Steam over the last few years.

Apple’s original request was very broad, but the judge narrowed it down to data on 436 specific games sold through Steam starting back in 2017, rather than all 30,000 games sold over the last six years, Law360 reports. Valve had been fighting the demands, calling them onerous for a company the size of Valve (it employs several hundred people, compared to Apple’s roughly 147,000), and saying the information is irrelevant to Apple’s battle with Epic.

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

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...

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“It’s my understanding, for lack of a better word, Apple has salted the earth with subpoenas, so don’t worry, it’s not just you,” Judge Hixson told Valve’s lawyers during a virtual hearing yesterday, according to Law360. Samsung has also been ordered to hand over sales data on its Galaxy app store as part of the ongoing dispute.

Valve has until mid-March to comply with the order and hand over the data. Meanwhile, Epic and Apple are set to head to court for a pretrial conference in April, followed by the official start of the trial in May. Fortnite has been unavailable on iPhones through the App Store ever since Apple pulled it over Epic circumventing its payment system. Epic has tried to get the game put back until the legal matter is settled, but has been shot down multiple times

Comments

  • It still doesn’t explain WHY Apple needs the sales data of every game in the world from its own competitors to fight Epic… let alone forcing them through subpoenas in such a matter.

    Will Valve appeal this? cause they are being dragged into a court battle against their will

    • I’m just guessing but there’s a few different arguments you might be able to form with the info.
      If any of those games only appear on steam or don’t appear on mobile, you could technically argue that the absence of one or two platforms doesn’t hinder your market.
      If any games appear on both Steam and the Epic store or also appear on mobile as well, it would be possible to argue that two different publishing fee and payment structures doesn’t affect your ability to make profit as severely as Epic claims.

      Epic sorta opened the door to dragging different platforms in to the mix by constantly floating their own PC store practices in opposition with Apples mobile only platform.

    • Well, appealing the ruling involves them getting dragged into court even further, so at this point it’s really just about whether the data is genuinely commercially sensitive to Valve sufficient to justify appealing, or whether they just couldn’t be stuffed earlier and now that they’re being forced it’s cheaper and a lot less work to simply do what they’re being asked.

      I’m betting the former, since it’s really hard to see how genuinely commercially sensitive a bit of historical sales data might be, other than to show how embarrassingly lucrative a 30% cut of everything is relative to the trivial amount of sales infrastructure that cut pays for. I mean, most of this info can already be inferred from sites such as SteamSpy anyhow.

    • Presumably Apple is trying to make the argument that “mobile gaming” is not an independent market. While Apple might have a large market share for mobile gaming, it’s going to look a lot smaller if you combine it with the PC gaming market.

      Presumably the 436 games the judge allowed Apple to subpoena data about are ones sold on both Apple’s and Valve’s stores and have microtransactions. It’ll be interesting if the revenue figures are actually helpful to Apple’s case.

  • There could be some juicy nuggets in there depending on the 436 games, enough to potentially spot trends in Steam’s own sales approach. Though Steam might also be spiteful and risk contempt of court by handing over a bare minimum effort, which Apple will then have to waste time fighting if they don’t like what’s been handed over. American courts are wild.

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