Apple is asking Valve to submit “massive amounts of data on PC game sales” as a source of material to make the legal battle with Epic Games clear.
The fierce legal dispute between Apple and Epic Games over the distribution of the Fortnite game on iOS is not over yet, and it is even now bringing Valve in.
Apple argued on the basis of a court subpoena demanding game distribution system maker Steam provide a host of data on PC game sales it deems crucial to the lawsuit. But Valve is resisting that subpoena, saying their information is proprietary, has nothing to do with Apple’s case and will be very expensive and difficult to retrieve.
Specifically, Apple looks for two major types of information that Valve refused to provide. One group includes documentation sufficient to show information about total annual app and in-app product sales, annual advertising revenue from Steam, annual sales of products outside of Steam, annual revenue from Steam and annual income (whether gross or net income) from Steam. The second group is the name of each application on Steam, the time for which the application is available on Steam, the price of the app and any in-app products available on Steam.
While Valve responded to some other parts of Apple’s subpoena, Apple still said that the information it received was “edited so much, that Apple cannot differentiate the information they may contain.”
Why does Apple need them?
Apple says the information requested above is key to considering whether other platforms are “economically viable” for the iOS App Store when distributing Fortnite. And Valve’s information is “crucial to calculating the total market size for Epic’s available digital distribution channels” Apple said.
But Valve argued that Steam was not involved in the battle between Apple and Epic. “Valve does not manufacture or sell phones, tablets, or video games for mobile devices or compete in the mobile market,” the company wrote. “Fortnite is not available on Steam and Epic has publicly and clearly stated that they will not offer Fortnite on Steam unless Valve changes its business model.”
Meanwhile, Apple says that Valve “acknowledges that the requested information is private, but exists in an easily accessible format“. In response, Valve said that required compliance would involve “a great deal of work” and “would place an extraordinary burden on Valve to query, process and combine large volumes to create large amounts of work.”
Valve says that process will involve collating information from at least four separate databases, for thousands of separate items. Valve also said that Apple did not offer to fund the cost of this data collection.
Personal data protection issue
Apple cited an earlier court order on the case of providing similar sales information from Samsung, arguing that Valve was obligated to comply. But Valve also replied: “Apple, Google and Samsung compete with each other in the mobile app market. Valve is not competing in that market.”
Valve also argues that being a private company makes a significant difference from a corporation like Samsung. “Valve has chosen to partially keep the information confidential to avoid the burden of public company reporting and disclosure requirements that companies like Samsung or Google have to comply with” the company wrote. “Valve does not disclose information and predictions about its revenue and revenue, and Valve derives significant value and advantage from the confidentiality of that information, including keeping it out of the hands of its companies.”
In any case, Apple argues that any confidential or sensitive competitive information provided by Valve may be protected, such as orders applying to Samsung. Apple also argues that “the requested information the company seeks do not detail future plans or involve strategic assessments so there is no significant risk of competition or economic harm for Valve”
But Valve is adamant that this information is private and is not necessary for Apple’s current legal battle. “Somehow, in a mobile app dispute, a PC game maker that doesn’t compete in the mobile market or sell apps is being seen as a key player,” Valve writes. “It is not possible.”