Apple subpoenas information from Valve regarding over 400 games being sold on Steam as part of its ongoing lawsuit with Epic Games.
The ongoing court case between Apple and Epic Games regarding the Apple App Store’s walled garden design and 30% fees continues to grow. Apple is reportedly subpoenaing multiple parties with tenuous connections to the ongoing matter. The latest example is Valve, which Apple appears to have subpoenaed due to its Steam platform’s own 30% fees. As a result, Valve will have to share sales data for 436 specific games being sold on the Steam platform.
In a report from Law360, Valve’s efforts to reject the subpoena in court were detailed. Valve argued that Apple’s subpoena led to an undue burden on the company, as it has a small team and would have to redirect several full-time employees to the task. US Magistrate Judge Thomas S. Hixon dismissed the idea, telling Valve, “Don’t worry, it’s not just you,” and that Apple had “salted the earth with subpoenas.” Valve will have until March to produce the subpoenaed information.
Apple’s argument is that Valve is a “prominent player” with regards to digital marketplaces, which is certainly true. Epic set up its own PC gaming marketplace specifically to compete with Valve, which has been accused of “killing PC gaming.” Epic’s own shop charges a 12% fee, whereas Valve continues to largely charge 30% and only drops it in tiers for revenue over $10 and $50 million. The competition between Epic and Valve on PC certainly seems applicable to what’s now going on with Apple.
That said, why Apple’s specifically requesting date regarding 436 Steam games isn’t clear. The number of games implies that Apple is seeking to determine a trend or something that impacts all of these games. If it was a smaller detail that Apple was seeking, fewer games would be necessary. In the court proceedings, it’s even confirmed that Apple threatened to seek the data on more than 30,000 Steam games.
While Epic and Valve’s very public rivalry is certainly relevant to the issue of Epic and Apple, the situation between them is also completely different. Being unhappy with Steam’s 30% fees, Epic was freely able to create its own PC gaming storefront. Epic won’t be able to do that on Apple devices, as all apps must be sold through Apple’s App Store with its 30% fee imposed.
When Epic first brought a lawsuit against Apple, the gaming community knew it would be a very big deal. Now that lawsuit is rapidly growing, involving Valve and likely many other major gaming publishers or related companies. It’s going to be interesting to see what information is made public, on top of what conclusion will come about from Epic Games vs. Apple.
MORE: Epic Games’ Lawsuit Against Apple, Google Explained
Source: Law360 (via MacRumors)
Everything Announced at the PlayStation State of Play for February 2021