Valve, the makers behind popular game distribution platform Steam, will be forced to hand over aggregate historical sales, price, and other information on 436 games hosted on the store to Apple, as part of the Apple vs. Epic Games antitrust case.
As reported in a paywalled report by
Law360, during a virtual discovery hearing on Wednesday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas S. Hixson ordered that Apple’s subpoena for the data to Valve was valid, however, noted that Apple has “salted the earth with subpoenas,” telling Valve “don’t worry, it’s not just you.” Apple’s original subpoena requested data from Valve about Steam dating as far back as 2015, the judge’s ruling however will only require Valve to produce data limited to as early as 2017.
Epic Games is in a heated legal battle with Apple over the App Store and claims that the Cupertino tech-giant locks developers into its ecosystem, and forces them to pay a “30% tax” for in-app purchases. Apple’s subpoena for data from Valve is one of many that Apple has set forward as it attempts to prove its point that the App Store as a distribution platform for software is no different than others.
Gavin W. Stok, a lawyer representing Valve in the discovery hearing, urged Judge Hixson to reject the subpoena and not force his company to produce the data. Stok says that Valve is run by a small team and that collecting all the data Apple is requesting would require it to “dedicate multiple employees working full time,” and that it would not be able to guarantee the request could be met on time.
Apple’s lawyer, Jay P. Srinivasan, says that the request is doable, and points out that Apple could have requested data on all 30,000 games on the Steam store, but that it instead is only requesting data on 436 games. Apple continued to defend its subpoena, calling Valve a “prominent player” in the complete picture of relevant markets like the App Store.
Ahead of what is expected to be a heated court hearing set for July 2021 between Apple and Epic Games, Valve has until mid-March to produce the data. We’ve reached out to Valve for a comment on the judge’s ruling and will update the page once we hear back.