Apple has subpoenaed Valve in its ongoing lawsuit with Epic Games, demanding it provides huge amounts of commercial data about Steam sales and operations dating back several years, court filings have revealed (via PC Gamer).
The subpoena was initiated by Apple in November 2020 under the argument that information about Valve’s digital distribution service, Steam, would be crucial to building its case against Epic Games.
Apple requested that Valve provided documents to show its total yearly sales of apps and in-app products, annual advertising revenues, annual sales of external products, and annual revenues and earnings from Steam. There are also more granular requests for the name of every app on Steam, the date range when every app has been available, and the price of all apps and in-app purchases.
This apparently involved the demand for information on over 30,000 games initially, but Apple has since narrowed its focus to around 600 games. Nevertheless, Apple is still insisting on receiving documents about every version of a given product and a large amount of financial information about Valve’s business.
Apple believes that Steam “is the dominant digital game distributor on the PC platform and is a direct competitor to the Epic Game Store,” so information about the digital marketplace’s sales and operations can show the extent of the market that the Epic Games Store is competing in. Apple argues that Valve should provide this information since it is not available elsewhere, and “does not raise risk of any competitive harm.”
While Apple and Valve apparently met several times to confer, Valve has refused to produce much of the information that Apple is requesting in the subpoena. Valve says that it has cooperated to a reasonable extent, providing documents on revenue share, competition with Epic, Steam distribution contracts, and more, but asserts that the request for six years’ worth of PC game and item sales for hundreds of third-party games and confidential information about these games and Valve’s revenues is unreasonable.
The company also bristled at Apple’s request for Valve’s involvement in the case since Steam is not a competitor in the mobile space, saying “Valve is not Epic, and Fortnite is not available on Steam.” Valve goes as far as to allege that Apple is using the request as a shortcut to a vast amount of commercially-sensitive third-party data.
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.
Valve added that it does not even keep all of the information that Apple is seeking since it does not need it in the ordinary course of business, and is now calling for the court to dismiss Apple’s subpoena. Meanwhile, Apple’s lawsuit with Epic Games is ongoing.