Valve refuses Apple's demand for Epic game sales volumes in App Store legal battle

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in General Discussion
Apple is demanding that Valve needs to produce documents pertaining to sales data in the PC gaming market -- and Valve has refused the demand and requests relief from the "burden" that revealing the data will impose.

Apple and Valve file document production requests to court
Apple and Valve file document production requests to court


Valve is the company behind Steam, a game store on PC and Mac that distributes software. The Apple and Epic case have targeted the company as an entity relevant to Apple's defense, though Valve says otherwise.

A new court filing in the Apple vs Epic case outlines complaints from Apple and Valve as document requests are unsatisfactory to both parties. Apple has requested specific data pertaining to the sale and distribution of video games since 2015 and Valve says that providing the data is burdensome.

Apple's position

Apple's complaint relates to documents referred to as Request 2, Request 32, and Volume 5 Production. These documents are stated to be relevant to the case and are needed to show the competitive market that Epic participates in.

Request 2

Request 2 would show Valve's total yearly sales of apps and in-app products, annual advertising revenue from Steam, annual sales of external products attributable to Steam, annual revenues from Steam, and annual earnings from Steam. Apple requested this data in a specific format, though Valve says the format Apple requests would cause an undue burden on the company.

Apple says Request 2 is crucial for calculating the total size of the market for Epic's available digital distribution channels, which the Court finds highly relevant. Apple points out that Samsung was ordered to provide the same information and has done so.

Request 32

Request 32 asks for documents that show the name of each app on Steam, the date range said app was available, and the price of the app and in-app product. Apple says this information is necessary to determine the scope and breadth of the digital distribution marketplace.

Volume 5 Production

The Volume 5 Production is a historical document that shows sales data related to games sold on the Steam marketplace. Apple says that Valve provided the Volume 5 Production but with heavy redactions. The redactions appear to cover any information that would be potentially useful to the case.

Apple requested the documentation to observe how commissions are handled in the marketplace. Valve asserts that the information is sensitive and must be redacted.

Valve's position

Valve asserts that it does not make or sell phones, tablets, or games for mobile devices. Steam is a digital storefront that operates on PC platforms and does not sell Fortnite.

There are 30,000 games available on Steam with over 99% of those not made by Valve. Most of these games can be bought elsewhere, and Fortnite is not available due to Epic refusing to sell it on the Steam platform.

Valve's burden

Apple gave Valve a list of 436 games that are available across Steam and the Epic Game Store and demanded sales data outlined in Request 2. Valve says this information is technically available in some form across different systems, but compiling it would be a heavy burden.

Apple's Request 2 would require:
  • Identify all versions and items on Steam since 2015 for all 436 games
  • Determine the sales prices for each game version and item at specific times, which would require querying two separate databases
  • pull unit sales information from a third database and payment rules from yet another database
  • Query another database for games sold in packages
  • Query and separate out revenue share information to determine its revenues related to each sale
The filing describes this as an overwhelming amount of work for just a single version of an item. Apple's demands would require valve to repeat this process thousands of times.

While this data is readily available to public companies like Samsung, it is not for private companies like Valve. Valve claims that this type of data is not created nor maintained during the ordinary course of business.

The Steam store is only available on desktop platforms and is not present in the mobile marketplace, therefore Valve is not a part of the conversation, Valve says. Apple says that the relevant market is any video game sold, but the counter-argument is that Apple hasn't provided proper evidence that this is the case.

The court has repeatedly demanded Apple and Epic must mutually define the market for the case to proceed. Apple views the line as the entire gaming market given the similarity of App Store pricing to console game store pricing, and Valve's pricing -- and Epic wants a narrower definition.

Valve argues that legal argument at the core of Apple versus Epic only pertains to mobile video games and apps, not desktop PC game distributors. Providing confidential sales and revenue information doesn't help Apple's case, according to Valve, and only provides data otherwise not available to competitors like Epic.

Apple Versus Epic - Records Request Filing by Mike Wuerthele on Scribd

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 7
    Ha ha. Apple wants Steam - a private entity - to release its private data to its competitors to analyze, mine and use to help them better compete with Steam. These competitors include not only Epic Games - who has a direct competing storefront product that operates similarly - and Microsoft - who owns the OS on which nearly all Steam games are distributed, sells their own video games through other channels like the Microsoft Store AND has the XBox hardware and xCloud platforms - but also Apple, who has Apple Arcade, wants to leverage the M1/Mx Macs into a gaming platform and turn Apple TV into a gaming console. And oh yeah has the #2 most profitable gaming platform in the world in iOS (Android nudges it out by a hair if you include the massive Chinese AOSP mobile gaming scene).

    And they want Valve to give up their private competitive information as part of a dispute that has absolutely nothing to do with them! Valve does not make a console (anymore). They have largely stopped maintaining steamOS, their Debian-based Linux distro (their project to port it to a ChromeOS container with Google notwithstanding). And they have no presence on mobile beyond a few apps to complement the PC gaming. 

    I support Apple in this lawsuit - if you absolutely have to play Fortnite on mobile then please just buy one of these https://www.samsung.com/us/mobile/tablets/all-tablets/?screen_size=<9" as they are frequently on sale - but Valve has nothing to do with this. Not having to share data with bigger competitors that have more resources is one of the main benefits of being privately held. I do not want Valve's data to be given to Microsoft nor do I want it given to Apple (who yes is a cutthroat competitor like all the rest). So PLEASE judges deny this unfair motion!
    gregoriusmbeowulfschmidtgatorguyOfermuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 2 of 7
    Considering that multiplatform games aren't at all unusual in terms of a revenue strategy, I would tend to think Apple is correct in saying that the definition for the market in this case should include more than just mobile games. Fortnite itself is an example of a multiplatform game that never relied on iOS revenue alone to be viable. Mobile was Fortnite's smallest market in terms of users.
    mac_dogdarelrexwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 7
    cpsrocpsro Posts: 2,796member
    Epic, Apple!
    williamlondon
  • Reply 4 of 7
    cloudguy said:
    Ha ha. Apple wants Steam - a private entity - to release its private data to its competitors to analyze, mine and use to help them better compete with Steam. These competitors include not only Epic Games - who has a direct competing storefront product that operates similarly - and Microsoft - who owns the OS on which nearly all Steam games are distributed, sells their own video games through other channels like the Microsoft Store AND has the XBox hardware and xCloud platforms - but also Apple, who has Apple Arcade, wants to leverage the M1/Mx Macs into a gaming platform and turn Apple TV into a gaming console. And oh yeah has the #2 most profitable gaming platform in the world in iOS (Android nudges it out by a hair if you include the massive Chinese AOSP mobile gaming scene).

    And they want Valve to give up their private competitive information as part of a dispute that has absolutely nothing to do with them! Valve does not make a console (anymore). They have largely stopped maintaining steamOS, their Debian-based Linux distro (their project to port it to a ChromeOS container with Google notwithstanding). And they have no presence on mobile beyond a few apps to complement the PC gaming. 

    I support Apple in this lawsuit - if you absolutely have to play Fortnite on mobile then please just buy one of these https://www.samsung.com/us/mobile/tablets/all-tablets/?screen_size=<9" as they are frequently on sale - but Valve has nothing to do with this. Not having to share data with bigger competitors that have more resources is one of the main benefits of being privately held. I do not want Valve's data to be given to Microsoft nor do I want it given to Apple (who yes is a cutthroat competitor like all the rest). So PLEASE judges deny this unfair motion!
    Valve may not be party to the law suit, but their data is relevant to establishing the size, commissions, and revenue of similar marketplaces. It's more than just a curiosity that Epic *could* put their game on Steam, but refuse to do so. Sussing out the reason is relevant, and would shine some light on Epic's motives and/or market position.

    Whether Valve is private is irrelevant (private companies are compelled to produce documents all the time), and their refusal on the basis of "undue burden" is simply stonewalling: any method of software distribution would enable this kind of data dump easily.
    darelrexlkruppmagman1979williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 7
    crowleycrowley Posts: 7,650member
    I don't see how Valve's platform data has any relevance here.  It'd make more sense for Apple to demand figures from Epic for sales across different platforms, and what the rate of commission was for each of the relevant app stores.

    Plus, Apple could use allies in the fight, so it;'s not a great idea to piss off other companies that might otherwise be on your side.
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 6 of 7
    Buried in the Apple position portion of the document is the phrase "which the Court finds highly relevant". This is an odd thing to say since this phrase is about the court's position not Apple's position. If the court has a position it should be listed separately in a section called "The Court's Position." I don't think I'm informed well enough to decide who is right here.
  • Reply 7 of 7
    sbdude said:
    cloudguy said:
    Ha ha. Apple wants Steam - a private entity - to release its private data to its competitors to analyze, mine and use to help them better compete with Steam. These competitors include not only Epic Games - who has a direct competing storefront product that operates similarly - and Microsoft - who owns the OS on which nearly all Steam games are distributed, sells their own video games through other channels like the Microsoft Store AND has the XBox hardware and xCloud platforms - but also Apple, who has Apple Arcade, wants to leverage the M1/Mx Macs into a gaming platform and turn Apple TV into a gaming console. And oh yeah has the #2 most profitable gaming platform in the world in iOS (Android nudges it out by a hair if you include the massive Chinese AOSP mobile gaming scene).

    And they want Valve to give up their private competitive information as part of a dispute that has absolutely nothing to do with them! Valve does not make a console (anymore). They have largely stopped maintaining steamOS, their Debian-based Linux distro (their project to port it to a ChromeOS container with Google notwithstanding). And they have no presence on mobile beyond a few apps to complement the PC gaming. 

    I support Apple in this lawsuit - if you absolutely have to play Fortnite on mobile then please just buy one of these https://www.samsung.com/us/mobile/tablets/all-tablets/?screen_size=<9" as they are frequently on sale - but Valve has nothing to do with this. Not having to share data with bigger competitors that have more resources is one of the main benefits of being privately held. I do not want Valve's data to be given to Microsoft nor do I want it given to Apple (who yes is a cutthroat competitor like all the rest). So PLEASE judges deny this unfair motion!
    Valve may not be party to the law suit, but their data is relevant to establishing the size, commissions, and revenue of similar marketplaces. It's more than just a curiosity that Epic *could* put their game on Steam, but refuse to do so. Sussing out the reason is relevant, and would shine some light on Epic's motives and/or market position.

    Whether Valve is private is irrelevant (private companies are compelled to produce documents all the time), and their refusal on the basis of "undue burden" is simply stonewalling: any method of software distribution would enable this kind of data dump easily.
    If Valve were party to this legal action, then you might have a valid point.  They are not, and you don't. If the goal is to establish the size, commissions, and revenue of similar marketplaces then Google would make a much more accurate comparative since it's a mobile platform where Epic actually operates and the data is mostly already available.  You're right that Valve being private is irrelevant.  You're wrong in this context that companies (private or otherwise) are compelled to produce documents all the time.  That is not true at all. 

    Companies are often compelled to produce documents if the material is 1) germane to the case and 2) from an organization with a relationship with one of the two parties in the case.  Valve has no connection to this case.  They shouldn't be compelled to expose information that could affect their business negatively.  Mind you, Apple isn't asking for Valve's info about Epic.  Their asking for Valve's info. Periodt.  Whether you're pro Epic or Apple in this case, Valve's participation shouldn't be an issue to debate imo.  
    gatorguyanonconformistmuthuk_vanalingam
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