Friday, February 26th 2021

Apple Subpoenas Valve for Steam's Data on 346 Games

Apple and Epic Games have had quite a turbulent history of legal issues in the past year. Fortnite, the world's biggest battle royale game, got removed from the Apple store because its developer, Epic Games, had refused to comply to store rules. If a developer is listing a game on the Apple store, all in-game payments must be processed through Apple, with the company taking a 30% tax cut for it. Epic Games didn't like that idea too much, so the company just used an external system that gave players the option to pay for in-game goods using different ways. However, that represented non-compliance to Apple store guidelines, and Apple took the Fortnite game down.


Update February 26th 07:50 UTC: In the court hearing on Wednesday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas S. Hixson ordered that Apple's subpoena was considered valid. Valve's lawyers urged the judge to not force the company to produce the requested data, however, Apple's lawyers have said that the request is doable and the company is only requesting data on a few hundred games, and it could have been worse by requesting data on over 30000 games instead.
Epic Games has sued the famous fruit company over this practice, however, another big publisher is being dragged into the fight. Valve, the company behind the popular gaming platform, Steam, has just entered the fight. Apple has requested Valve to hand over information about 346 games and its user statistics, meaning the number of monthly, daily, etc. players and other useful information. This information request was made off the court and Valve has denied providing it. In the second attempt by Apple, the information requested was "very narrow" and Valve did not want to provide any more data. The response from Valve was that the company doesn't sell mobile games and has little business in the mobile world, thus making Apple's request irrelevant.

08:15 UTC: Apparently, in the court Valve stated that "Apple Has Not Shown Substantial Need For The Information It Demands", with the court hearing saying that "First, Apple argues the information it demands is necessary to calculate market size and definition. False. Apple, Google and Samsung compete with each other in the mobile app market. Valve does not compete in that market." The statement alone is noting that as Valve doesn't compete in the mobile market, the company will not enter legal disputes between the two companies and remains neutral. Requesting that much data from Valve would require too much work and Apple hasn't proved that there is any need for it, besides Apple's intentions to see the market size of games. Valve also notes that it is not a public company, and Apple's request for sales and earnings figures are illogical.
Sources: Business Insider, Court Hearing (Valve and Apple)
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61 Comments on Apple Subpoenas Valve for Steam's Data on 346 Games

#1
biffzinker
I don't see Valve wanting to play along with Apple's request considering Valve was the first evicted from Apple's App store.
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#2
hat
Enthusiast
Sounds to me like Apple is missing that sweet Fortnite money.
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#3
Prima.Vera
30% ?? I wonder who are the biggest thieves...
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#4
PowerOfLard
"Apple’s Request 2 is very narrow. It simply requests documents sufficient to show Valve’s: (a) total yearly sales of apps and in-app products; (b) annual advertising revenues from Steam; (c) annual sales of external products attributable to Steam; (d) annual revenues from Steam; and (e) annual earnings (whether gross or net) from Steam. Apple has gone as far as requesting this information in any readily accessible format, but Valve refuses to produce it."

"(a) the name of each App on Steam; (b) the date range when the App was available on Steam; and (c) the price of the App and any in-app product available on Steam."
_____
"Apple has requested Valve to hand over information about Fortnite and its user statistics, meaning the number of monthly, daily, etc. players and other useful information."

i don't think Fortnite was ever available on steam... why would you write something like this?
Posted on Reply
#5
AleksandarK
PowerOfLard
"Apple’s Request 2 is very narrow. It simply requests documents sufficient to show Valve’s: (a) total yearly sales of apps and in-app products; (b) annual advertising revenues from Steam; (c) annual sales of external products attributable to Steam; (d) annual revenues from Steam; and (e) annual earnings (whether gross or net) from Steam. Apple has gone as far as requesting this information in any readily accessible format, but Valve refuses to produce it."

"(a) the name of each App on Steam; (b) the date range when the App was available on Steam; and (c) the price of the App and any in-app product available on Steam."
_____
"Apple has requested Valve to hand over information about Fortnite and its user statistics, meaning the number of monthly, daily, etc. players and other useful information."

i don't think Fortnite was ever available on steam... why would you write something like this?
It is updated to be clearer and I made a mistake. Thank you for pointing it out :)
Posted on Reply
#6
watzupken
biffzinker
I don't see Valve wanting to play along with Apple's request considering Valve was the first evicted from Apple's App store.
The enemy of an enemy can be a friend here. EPIC is the main competitor to Steam on the desktop space, so it is also in the interest of Steam to subtly help Apple without wanting to get involved directly.
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#7
chstamos
Remember how Steam Link was unceremoniously denied app store release just weeks before release, when the product was practically done and ready? It took them another year to reverse that decision. Apple hasn't been making many friends with its policies.
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#8
japkoslav
I had no idea this court case hurt Apple in such a way they are getting really desperate.
Good for Valve and I hope they won't be forced by court to provide that statistics (for this court case) in future.
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#9
Vya Domus
I am guessing this is for the Mac side of things, right ?

www.statista.com/statistics/265033/proportion-of-operating-systems-used-on-the-online-gaming-platform-steam/

All Mac OSes barely brake the 1% mark combined, I am surprised Valve even bothered to respond at all. Why is Apple dead set on killing off everything gaming related to the Mac, their behavior seems irrational. But then I remembered that now their macs run iOS apps natively and they also have this thing called Apple Arcade.

And then it occurred to me, this is simply about killing off competition on their platform so that users don't have much of a choice but use their services.
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#10
Valantar
watzupken
The enemy of an enemy can be a friend here. EPIC is the main competitor to Steam on the desktop space, so it is also in the interest of Steam to subtly help Apple without wanting to get involved directly.
And how, exactly, does it help Valve in their competition against Epic to disclose a massive amount of sales data to an unrelated third party? I mean, even if they should manage to drive Epic out of business (which, well, isn't happening) they would then have disclosed a massive amount of data to a large overall competitor in the gaming space (regardless if they don't compete on the same platforms).

I'm not a fan of Valve or their business practices overall, but this "request" from Apple is just plain-faced lunacy, even in its heavily edited later forms.
Vya Domus
I am guessing this is for the Mac side of things, right ?

www.statista.com/statistics/265033/proportion-of-operating-systems-used-on-the-online-gaming-platform-steam/

All Mac OSes barely brake the 1% mark combined, I am surprised Valve even bothered to respond at all. Why is Apple dead set on killing off everything gaming related to Mac ? But then I remembered that now their macs run iOS apps natively and they also have this thing called Apple Arcade.

And then it occurred to me, this is simply about killing off competition on their platform so that users don't have much of a choice but use their services.
The data they requested is for all Steam sales, but yes, that would allow them to identify which Steam games sell well on Mac and are widely played by Mac users, which would in turn give them some easy targets for buying studios/exclusivity deals, making Apple Arcade more attractive while hurting their biggest competitor in Mac gaming.
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#11
1d10t
In the second attempt by Apple, the information requested was "very narrow"
Apple just being Apple, they treat other companies like they treat their own customers, "this is the best for you" with a barely readable footnotes of course.
Posted on Reply
#12
watzupken
Valantar
And how, exactly, does it help Valve in their competition against Epic to disclose a massive amount of sales data to an unrelated third party? I mean, even if they should manage to drive Epic out of business (which, well, isn't happening) they would then have disclosed a massive amount of data to a large overall competitor in the gaming space (regardless if they don't compete on the same platforms).

I'm not a fan of Valve or their business practices overall, but this "request" from Apple is just plain-faced lunacy, even in its heavily edited later forms.
Denying them of profits they can make on iOS and potentially Google is going to hit EPIC quite badly in terms of earnings. Don't forget, EPIC got kicked out not just by Apple but also by Alphabet. Sometimes its not about driving a company out of business, but just keeping them in check. Whether Steam provides assistance to Apple, its their decision. If they choose to disclose, I am sure they must have felt that it is to their advantage. At this point, by not outright telling them to buzz off is a sign that there some willingness to corporate.
Posted on Reply
#13
kapone32
watzupken
Denying them of profits they can make on iOS and potentially Google is going to hit EPIC quite badly in terms of earnings. Don't forget, EPIC got kicked out not just by Apple but also by Alphabet. Sometimes its not about driving a company out of business, but just keeping them in check. Whether Steam provides assistance to Apple, its their decision. If they choose to disclose, I am sure they must have felt that it is to their advantage. At this point, by not outright telling them to buzz off is a sign that there some willingness to corporate.
Ha, Epic does not need Apple nor Alphabet. Fortnite is doing plenty fine by itself. Regardless of that Epic has enough developer licenses to not need anyone really. The Gaming houses are not going to go against each other against the evil empires. If you doubt what I am saying GOG Galaxy can fully integrate your digital PC and console library (including acheivements).
Posted on Reply
#14
Valantar
watzupken
Denying them of profits they can make on iOS and potentially Google is going to hit EPIC quite badly in terms of earnings. Don't forget, EPIC got kicked out not just by Apple but also by Alphabet. Sometimes its not about driving a company out of business, but just keeping them in check. Whether Steam provides assistance to Apple, its their decision. If they choose to disclose, I am sure they must have felt that it is to their advantage. At this point, by not outright telling them to buzz off is a sign that there some willingness to corporate.
To put it simply: Apple is far more of a threat to Valve/Steam than Epic is. Giving away proprietary sales data to them to fight off Epic is like sawing off your legs to combat athlete's foot.
Posted on Reply
#15
Chrispy_
Why would Apple think Valve is going to comply voluntarily?!

Valve stands to gain absolutely nothing but trouble by getting involved in this billionaire's squabble, and both Apple and Epic are "enemies" of Valve that have directly harmed Valve's business in one way or another in the recent past.

The only way Valve is likely to comply is if they are paid (extremely well) for the data, or if they are forced to hand it over by law.
Posted on Reply
#16
Lycanwolfen
Apple is a perfect example of the saying. The brighter the Picture the Darker the negative. I have met some apple people in my life that think apple is the greatest thing in the world. Saying they are the best computers ever and they invented everything. I scanned his apple once and found over 130 infections on it. He said I faked the scan. Apple has brainwashed these people. It's nothing more but a PC running Unix with a fancy GUI.
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#17
Vayra86
The war for digital distribution continues...

Take special note of the value of 'meta'data.
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#19
Fatalfury
Apple,Google,Valve....
They 30% Leecher Companies..
they're all the same
Posted on Reply
#20
AusWolf
nVidia (during the Hardware Unboxed fiasco): Finally I'm the no.1 shadiest, slimiest, dirtiest tech company in the world.
Apple: Hold my beer.
Posted on Reply
#21
Paganstomp
No love amongst thieves. But a thief that steals from another thief is pardoned for a thousand years.
Posted on Reply
#22
arbiter
Fatalfury
Apple,Google,Valve....
They 30% Leecher Companies..
they're all the same
except on pc side you don't have to use steam, on mac side you have no choice but to apple's app store and pay them 30%. you say they are the same but not really.
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#23
Steevo
They probably want it so they can show that Mac gaming sales were dismal, while trying to figure out how to make a Mac play games..... Cause they are greedy bastards.
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#24
Totally
The irony here is whenever Apple is asked to hand over data they gladly slam that door in the face of whomever is asking and then brag about it for the PR. Not only did they ask Valve and get denied once but they came back and asked a second time. shameless.
Posted on Reply
#25
ThrashZone
Fatalfury
Apple,Google,Valve....
They 30% Leecher Companies..
they're all the same
Hi,
Did you forget microsoft.
Posted on Reply
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