Apple subpoenas Valve’s sensitive Steam data in its legal case against Epic Games

In its legal case against Epic Games, Apple is demanding Valve to produce huge amounts of commercial data regarding Steam sales and operations dating back several years.

Valve, a game store on Mac and PC that distributes software, is the company behind Steam. Apple subpoenaed Valve Corporation in November 2020. The intent was to build a case against Epic Games. The legal battle between both companies is about competitive practices, so Apple wanted to see data from one of Epic’s competitors.

Valve Steam

Apple subpoenas Valve to produce sensitive Steam data for its legal battle against Epic Games

As reported by PC Gamer, Apple requested that Valve provide documents to show its total yearly sales of in-app products and apps, annual sales of external products, annual advertising revenues, and annual revenues and earnings from Steam. There is also a request for the name of every app on Steam, the data range when every app was made available, and the price of all in-app purchases and apps to present data at court.

Apple subpoenaed Valve under the basic argument that certain Steam information would be crucial to building its case against Epic, which is all about competitive practices. Yesterday a joint discovery letter was filed to the District court in Northern California relating to the subpoena, which contains a summary of the behind-the-scenes tussles thus far, and both sides’ arguments about where to go from here.

Initially, the request involved information of over 30,000 games but Apple has now narrowed it down to almost 600 games. The Cupertino tech giant believes that Steam “is the dominant digital game distributor on the PC platform and is a direct competitor to the Epic Game Store.” The information regarding the digital marketplace’s transactions and services will show the size of the market that the Epic Games Store is competing in.

Apple new product - Valve

Even though Valve and Apple have met several times to discuss this, Valve has refused to produce the requested information by Apple. According to Valve, it has cooperated to a reasonable extent, providing documents on revenue share, competition with Epic, Steam distribution contracts, and more. But states that the formal request asking for six years worth of data of PC game and item sales for hundreds of third-party games and confidential information about these games is quite unreasonable.

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. It’s not. The extensive and highly confidential information Apple demands about a subset of the PC games available on Steam does not show the size or parameters of the relevant market and would be massively burdensome to pull together. Apple’s demands for further production should be rejected.

The company also stated on Apple’s request for Valve’s involvement in the case since Steam is not a competitor in the mobile space, and says “Valve is not Epic, and Fortnite is not available on Steam.” Valve further added that it does not keep all of the information that Apple is asking since it does not require it on daily basis, and is now calling for the court to dismiss Apple’s subpoena.

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Gaming editor at iThinkDiff