Valve ordered to give Apple info for over 400 Steam games for Epic Games lawsuit

A court has ordered that Valve must hand over Steam game info as a part of the ongoing Apple and Epic Games legal dispute.

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It’s hard to understate the impact that the ongoing feud between Apple and Epic Games has had on the surrounding gaming and tech industries. As lawsuits get thrown back and forth, some of the biggest names in gaming and tech have either stepped or been dragged into the feud in some capacity. Steam creator Valve is among the latest, as a court has ordered the company to give Apple information for over 400 Steam games.

It was just last week that we learned Apple had filed a subpoena to gain access to a large share of Steam’s sales and operation data. Unsurprisingly, Valve denied the request, stating that it was unreasonable . However, Valve will no longer have a choice, as a judge has ordered the company to provide some of the information requested by Apple.

This story comes from Law360, by way of MacRumors. This week, U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas S. Hixson ruled in favor of Apple’s subpoena against Valve. While Apple had requested info going as far back as 2015, it was ruled that Valve is only required to grant data from as early as 2017.

What’s interesting, is that according to the report, the judge made some remarks about Apple’s recent legal behavior. The article states that the judge said Apple has "salted the earth with subpoenas," and that Valve was not the only company that Apple was doing this to.

Of course, this all stems back to the ongoing legal feud between Apple and Epic Games, as the Fortnite creator launched a full-scale attack on the tech giant last year, which Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney admitted had been in the works for quite some time. There’s already been a ton of fallout from the matter, and it looks like things are still far from over.

Contributing Editor

Donovan is a young journalist from Maryland, who likes to game. His oldest gaming memory is playing Pajama Sam on his mom's desktop during weekends. Pokémon Emerald, Halo 2, and the original Star Wars Battlefront 2 were some of the most influential titles in awakening his love for video games. After interning for Shacknews throughout college, Donovan graduated from Bowie State University in 2020 with a major in broadcast journalism and joined the team full-time. He is a huge Star Wars nerd and film fanatic that will talk with you about movies and games all day. You can follow him on twitter @Donimals_

From The Chatty
  • reply
    February 25, 2021 12:05 PM

    Donovan Erskine posted a new article, Valve ordered to give Apple info for over 400 Steam games for Epic Games lawsuit

    • reply
      February 25, 2021 5:33 AM

      Apple was able to get a subpoena on Valve's sales data

      https://www.macrumors.com/2021/02/25/valve-apple-data-request-for-epic-games-case/

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        February 25, 2021 5:37 AM

        I still don’t understand how that’s relevant. There are like 20 different ways to buy games for PC

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          February 25, 2021 5:38 AM

          But 18 of them give you a STEAM key

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            February 25, 2021 5:44 AM

            Curious, if you buy a steam digital license for "Whatever the Game" from the Amazon marketplace, does Valve still get a 30%?

            What if it is retail, but just an empty box with a steam activation code?

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              February 25, 2021 5:49 AM

              Part of the problem is that simply nobody knows, except Valve and each individual publisher that made a deal with them.

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                February 25, 2021 5:54 AM

                so a sale like above mentioned, Amazon gets the full transaction of the sell, but then the dev, by contract has to pay 30% of that sell to Valve? Or maybe a smaller percentage. hmm.

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          February 25, 2021 5:43 AM

          I suspect Apple has subpoenaed all the major players on PC, consoles, and smart devices. This is just the one we are hearing about.

          Regardless, steam is the biggest and oldest digital storefront player for games on PC. Depends on the argument Apple wants to make based on the data as to how valuable it is. I can think of a lot of scenarios where it would be very relevant.

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          February 25, 2021 5:45 AM

          Agreed. Even if there was no other way to buy PC games I dont see why that gives one company the right to another companies sales data, especially when the argument appears to be "we take the same cut as everyone else". Couldn't Valve just be like ya, we take 30%.

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        February 25, 2021 5:52 AM

        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."

        what a fucking shitty take. It is okay if you give over all your data, we are making everyone do it!

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          February 25, 2021 5:56 AM

          You know, Valve will suffer ZERO from this, why the Perl clutch? Valve is rich, let the world see why.

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            February 25, 2021 6:02 AM

            Why does anyone perl clutch their information? That information is worth something to someone. Right now, that information is worth something to Apple, and they are getting it free through some BS legal action. Valve and whatever other entities aren't apart of this fued.

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              February 25, 2021 6:44 AM

              ha, found it

              https://metacpan.org/pod/Clutch

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              February 25, 2021 10:15 AM

              Yes, that information isn't just valuable for the lawsuit. Apple has been rumored for years to be working on a game console and the already have a game service on their platform. Knowing how much a a competitor is making from a similar service and what they charge can easily give them a competitive advantage in that space.

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                February 25, 2021 10:18 AM

                See, I didn't even think of this. This argument would also seem to imply that even Apple views the differences between mobile gaming and PC/Console. I don't know. I think I am getting over a fucking cold, or the flu shot is clouding my head. Sucks sitting at work with sinus pressure and a foggy head.

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              February 25, 2021 11:14 AM

              It's "pearl", not "Perl" or "perl".

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            February 25, 2021 6:46 AM

            You won't see why, regardless of what Apple sees.

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        February 25, 2021 5:57 AM

        I know fuck all about the legal side of this. Seems stupid that you can just randomly demand data from people who aren't directly related

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          February 25, 2021 6:05 AM

          You can’t just demand it. You have to argue it is relevant to the judge. In this case Apple has successfully presented an argument that the Judge has determined makes it very relevant to this case.

          So, as much as people can wonder why Apple would request this data, they have successfully shown in the Judge’s opinion it is warranted.

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            February 25, 2021 6:12 AM

            What I mean is, I don't see why they have the right to it. Just because it helps you make an argument, if the person involved isn't directly involved in the case.

            It probably makes a lot more sense if you're demanding a nearby shop gives you CCTV data showing a murderer brandishing a weapon, but I'm this case it's difficult to see why a company should give up it's data because two other companies are in a tiff about transaction charges

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            February 25, 2021 4:55 PM

            [deleted]

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            February 26, 2021 1:55 AM

            I have the feeling this has something to do with key resellers. They are probably gonna subpoena Humble and others, too.

      • reply
        February 25, 2021 6:15 AM

        http://www.shacknews.com/chatty?id=40437964#item_40437964

        It's a strategy to weaken the argument that apple is being abusive in pricing

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          February 25, 2021 6:18 AM

          Does Epic not nullify that strategy by simply pointing out that they are able to compete with the Steam pricing by launching their own storefront on Windows? Something they are not able to do on iOS?

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            February 25, 2021 6:32 AM

            No, because of the nature of Epic’s specific arguments against Apple, it’s relevant to their argument that digital storefronts should not be allowed to require the use of their payment processing system. Which impacts all digital storefronts.

            Also, Apple has likely requested the data on these specific games from every single platform. They then argue on closed or open platforms the results are the same and it is standard industry wide practice. And, they likely bring a laundry list of reasons why it is this way.

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              February 25, 2021 6:34 AM

              Does Valve get a percentage of in game marketplaces?

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                February 25, 2021 6:48 AM

                Yes. From the steam subscriber agreement:

                D. Payment Processing

                Payment processing related to Content and Services and/or Hardware purchased on Steam is performed by either Valve Corporation directly or by Valve’s fully owned subsidiary Valve GmbH on behalf of Valve Corporation depending on the type of payment method used. If your card was issued outside the United States, your payment may be processed via a European acquirer by Valve GmbH on behalf of Valve Corporation. For any other type of purchases, payment will be collected by Valve Corporation directly. In any case, delivery of Content and Services as well as Hardware is performed by Valve Corporation.

                And just like Apple if a developer wishes to use their own storefront, it must be linked out of steam itself to a separate website and not be part of the steam infrastructure.

                Also see:

                https://partner.steamgames.com/doc/features/microtransactions

                Where it states microtransactions have to use their api

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            February 25, 2021 7:52 AM

            Epic's case hinges that Apple runs a monopoly - that monopoly being the iOS marketspace. That there are other computing devices are irrelevant to Epic's case, they want to argue that people buy an iPhone and thus are locked to that space, so being denied to operate in that space in a competitive manner is anti-trust behavior (broadly).

            Apple's goal is two fold. First they are counter-suing Epic for being purposely deceptive in how they launched their suit. But in defending in the suit from Epic, they want to show that they are not a monopoly, and specifically that the marketspace should not be considerd just iOS devices but all computing devices. This thus makes sense that the subpeonas are seeking a limited (400-some) number of titles that may be on both iOS and Steam , and since there's hints there's other subpeonas out there, Apple's likely poked at MS, Sony, and Nintendo for similar numbers for games also on consoles that are also on iOS. They want to show, likely through this, that iOS is not a dominate platform for these games, and thus not a monopoly.

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              February 25, 2021 9:14 AM

              I am still undecided on where I fall on this case. It is a delicate decision for the court, Their final decision could have a lot of impact. It is true that Apple App Store is not a monopoly when your view finder is zoomed out. I don't know that we should really zoom so far out though.

              You said - "They want to show, likely through this, that iOS is not a dominate platform for these games, and thus not a monopoly."

              Which lines up with this - The number of active players out of the 350 million registered accounts is a tough nut to crack. There are about 116 million accounts that are mobile accounts, and approximately 63% of those played Fortnite solely on iOS. That means that around 73 million users lost access to the game when the App Store removed Fortnite in August of 2020.

              That said, Apple is getting a fuck ton of money from mobile games. The mobile side of the video game industry is almost 60% of the entire industry and only growing. PC and Console seem to split the remaining 40%.


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          February 25, 2021 6:41 AM

          I really don't understand that argument, either. If I punch you in the nose, can I avoid prosecution if I provide evidence of other people throwing punches as well?

      • reply
        February 25, 2021 6:15 AM

        [deleted]

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        February 25, 2021 6:50 AM

        Regardless of everyone’s opinions on this, the fact is that Apple was required to make a case to the judge that the data was relevant, and they were able to do so.

        That’s all we know at this point. More may come to light in the future.

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          February 25, 2021 7:04 AM

          ^^this. This is how subpoenas work. The subtleties vary depending on state and type of case. But, if information is subpoenaed and the judge feels it is valid and warranted then that’s it. Valve can appeal of course if they choose to fight a legal battle over this.

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            February 25, 2021 11:06 AM

            If you were to speculate, how much will it cost Valve to prepare this data?

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              February 25, 2021 11:20 AM

              Probably quite a bit as, knowing the organization, they probably don’t keep track of their numbers like they really should. I’d expect if a Sony or MS, etc was also subpoenaed they’d be able to produce that information fairly easily.

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                February 25, 2021 12:09 PM

                You are probably right. This comment from the Apple Lawyer just rubs me the wrong way though.

                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
                .

                It is like they (Apple) are saying that Valve should be greatful that the Almighty Apple didn't want more.

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                  February 25, 2021 2:38 PM

                  that does sound pretty slimy and smug. also "grateful"

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        February 25, 2021 7:08 AM

        I can't even imagine how much cash Valve makes at this point. Game store money goes brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

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          February 25, 2021 6:05 PM

          I also can't imagine how mundane it must be to work there.

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            February 25, 2021 6:29 PM

            Yeah it seems like all they're doing is primarily in service of selling more shit.

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            February 25, 2021 11:27 PM

            Yeah I bet working on VR and brain computer interfaces is boring as shit.

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              February 26, 2021 1:58 AM

              That’s a fraction of the company.

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                February 26, 2021 2:06 AM

                That's true, I bet all the artists and level designers and programmers were just board to tears working on the best VR game released to date.

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          February 25, 2021 12:00 PM

          i can't wait for them to go toe-to-toe on bird law

    • reply
      February 25, 2021 6:06 PM

      [deleted]

      • reply
        February 25, 2021 6:45 PM

        I mean let's be honest, that happened when Woz left.

    • reply
      February 26, 2021 2:08 AM

      should the shacknews article author and/or the chatty mod that moves the shackers thread, add a note give a bit of credit to the original poster of the chatty thread that got moved under the article?

      • reply
        February 26, 2021 4:19 AM

        While finding a thread that gets shoved under an article is annoying, I'm not sure how much credit one deserves for copying and pasting a link to an article on another site.

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          February 26, 2021 4:28 AM

          sure, but isnt taking someone else's thread and sticking it somewhere else kind of similar? kind of a "you made this; i made this" scenario

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        February 26, 2021 4:58 AM

        the shack article should simply be moved to an informative response to the original post. no need for a 2nd shack article root post. it just breaks up the conversation and makes it difficult to keep track of posts you were trying to follow.

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