Apple demands sales data for hundreds of Steam games as part of its legal battle with Epic

Polycount

Posts: 2,850   +575
Staff member
What just happened? Apple is still locked in a heated legal battle with Epic Games regarding the former's App Store fees and alleged monopolistic business practices, but now, Apple is dragging a third party into the fray. According to a new legal filing, Apple wants Valve to provide it with comprehensive sales data on 436 Steam games.

The request is a rather bizarre one. Apple seems to be implying that, because Epic could theoretically publish its games on Steam, it should have access to non-public sales data on hundreds of third-party games for use in its legal battle.

Valve, for its part, completely disagrees with Apple's opinion. In its "position" statement, Valve refuses to produce the documents Apple requests (or, at least, most of them) and provides paragraph after paragraph of reasons why.

One of Valve's more amusing refutations follows below:

Apple claims the information it demands is uniquely obtainable from Valve, yet much of what Apple seeks is sales and pricing information for third party games. That information belongs to the third party developers of those games, not Valve. But instead of seeking it from those developers—and being required to establish substantial need to obtain their information—Apple takes a shortcut by subpoenaing Valve.

In other words, Valve is accusing Apple of being lazy, but in the most polite and legally-justifiable way it can.

On a more serious note, Valve says the amount of effort that would be required to produce the documents Apple requests would be "overwhelming." For every single product (and product variant) the phonemaker wants information on, Valve would need to access multiple databases to collect and collate sales data. Since Valve does not create or keep this information as part of its "ordinary course of business," the company argues that it's an overly-burdensome request.

Valve is a private company, and as such, is not subject to the same investor-focused regulatory filing requirements that a public firm would be. It's not too hard to believe that it doesn't normally retain the documents Apple requests; at least, not in an easily-accessible format.

While we're not taking a specific side here, it does seem like Apple's demands are a bit much, particularly if you consider the fact that Valve has nothing to do with Apple or the iOS app market.

All we can do now is wait and see how the court feels about the situation. Whatever happens, we'll be sure to keep you in the loop, so stay tuned.

Permalink to story.

 

MSIGamer

Posts: 45   +61
"Somehow, in a dispute over mobile apps, a maker of PC games that does not compete in the
mobile market or sell “apps” is being portrayed as a key figure. It’s not. The extensive and
highly confidential information Apple demands about a subset of the PC games available on
Steam does not show the size or parameters of the relevant market and would be massively
burdensome to pull together. Apple’s demands for further production should be rejected."

Totally agree with Valve here. Apple is resorting to increasingly ridiculous measures and excuses as to why they are being treated unfairly, while at the same time they don't provide Valve or any other company any compensation for the huge inconvenience they cause them by dragging them into this crap.
Great tactic Apple, that'll really strengthen your case. Makes you look really good too. /facepalm
 

Uncle Al

Posts: 8,014   +6,783
Actually, in contract law anyone that is relying upon the accurate accounting to determine money or shares owed has a perfectly legal right to ask for / demand an independent accounting to verify that all funds owed have been paid. There have been multiple of "contracts" nullified for failure to provide this accounting as is often seen in any kind of "royality" agreement between performing artists and publishers / producers, etc. I'm afraid that Steam will loose this one if it makes it into the court room.
 

Theinsanegamer

Posts: 2,446   +3,596
Actually, in contract law anyone that is relying upon the accurate accounting to determine money or shares owed has a perfectly legal right to ask for / demand an independent accounting to verify that all funds owed have been paid. There have been multiple of "contracts" nullified for failure to provide this accounting as is often seen in any kind of "royality" agreement between performing artists and publishers / producers, etc. I'm afraid that Steam will loose this one if it makes it into the court room.
Valve has no "contract" with apple though, and has nothing to do with this silly lawsuit. They are well within their rights to tell apple to stuff it.
 

MSIGamer

Posts: 45   +61
People will be fed up with these distraction tactics and finger pointing in the end. They can stretch it as long as they want, they can throw around confusion for years, get in the victim role hard, cry much and scream very loud, but in the end they'll go down just like Trump.
I'm so fed up with people and companies like this. It's time they get pulled off of their high horses and stop leeching off of the general public and small developers and that they get cured from their addiction to money.
 

Dimitriid

Posts: 541   +918
Valve says the amount of effort that would be required to produce the documents Apple requests would be "overwhelming." For every single product (and product variant) the phonemaker wants information on, Valve would need to access multiple databases to collect and collate sales data. Since Valve does not create or keep this information as part of its "ordinary course of business," the company argues that it's an overly-burdensome request.

On an unrelated side note, I find that hard to believe but if that's the case, I kinda want to contact Gabe and offer consultant services to implement some Data Warehousing because a company their size and on their business absolutely should have that data available, indexed and properly presented: Valve needs a BI department it seems.
 

candle_86

Posts: 729   +730
Actually, in contract law anyone that is relying upon the accurate accounting to determine money or shares owed has a perfectly legal right to ask for / demand an independent accounting to verify that all funds owed have been paid. There have been multiple of "contracts" nullified for failure to provide this accounting as is often seen in any kind of "royality" agreement between performing artists and publishers / producers, etc. I'm afraid that Steam will loose this one if it makes it into the court room.

Not relevant here, steam sales has nothing to do with apple at all. If I was valve I'd tell apple to go fork themselves and for good measure Gabe can throw their attorney into the half life 3 dev room, nothing ever gets out of there
 

NeoMorpheus

Posts: 514   +977
Oh the irony.

Valve was one of the first victims of apple bs and draconian, anti consumer cr@ppy rules.

They forced Valve to cripple their Steam offerings in ios.

I really hope that apple loses this and is forced to open up their ios devices, at the very least, force then to allow sideloading apps.
 

terzaerian

Posts: 904   +1,293
Oh the irony.

Valve was one of the first victims of apple bs and draconian, anti consumer cr@ppy rules.

They forced Valve to cripple their Steam offerings in ios.

I really hope that apple loses this and is forced to open up their ios devices, at the very least, force then to allow sideloading apps.
I just wish there was a way for both the defendant and the complainant to lose a lawsuit, personally.

I guess having it go on long enough that any potential gain just gets snapped up by the lawyers?
 

Puiu

Posts: 4,587   +3,407
TechSpot Elite
On an unrelated side note, I find that hard to believe but if that's the case, I kinda want to contact Gabe and offer consultant services to implement some Data Warehousing because a company their size and on their business absolutely should have that data available, indexed and properly presented: Valve needs a BI department it seems.
The volume of data Apple is asking for is way beyond the scope of what Valve should keep readily available, especially not data for the last 5-6 years like Apple is asking. It would prolly take weeks or months of time to put together, time that Apple isn't going to pay for and time that would be lost for a stupid thing.
 

Fearghast

Posts: 349   +248
Oh, this is nice.
I am pretty sure Valve has pretty detailed statistics on pretty much everything that is going on in Steam world, but them not sharing with the likes of Apple made me warm inside :D

I really wonder what is Apple point here, because it sounds pretty nonsensical, at least based on this article.
 

tancabean

Posts: 24   +31
Apple’s request is really bizarre. They’re trying to make the case that Epic has alternative options for distributing Fortnite but Valve is not a relevant option in this case.

A desktop PC is not a substitute gaming platform to an iPhone. It’s a fundamentally ridiculous position to take. They’ve already successfully subpoenaed the same information from Samsung which makes sense since Android phones are actually substitutes and Samsung represents a large swath of that market. You can also argue that iOS is a world into itself and there are no substitutes.
 

bexwhitt

Posts: 534   +218
The difference between Steam and Apple's closed walled garden means this is just an obfuscation tactic. Are some PC games only available on steam sure but that's the publishers choice.
 

Shadowboxer

Posts: 1,490   +1,087
I find this curious. Why is valve so protective of the data? If they want to stay out of all of this why aren’t they just cooperating, it’s a legal matter after all. No one is asking Valve to make anything public.

I feel there may be more to this story than what’s written here.
 

Dimitriid

Posts: 541   +918
The volume of data Apple is asking for is way beyond the scope of what Valve should keep readily available, especially not data for the last 5-6 years like Apple is asking. It would prolly take weeks or months of time to put together, time that Apple isn't going to pay for and time that would be lost for a stupid thing.

Oh let me get this clear: In regards to the lawsuit itself I do not contest that: Volume is unreasonable and the request of an uninvolved third party makes it twice as unreasonable you're absolutely right.

And it would take months to years to develop a solution indeed. I am just saying that Valve could just oppose this on the basis of only "It's not our data and it's not even our case we should not have to give it to you" because most big companies like Valve (But perhaps not Valve themselves, they're notoriously disorganized) actually do have the information or are in the process of organizing and implementing a Data Warehouse to develop internal reports and use that to make strategic decisions. It's valuable to not just be guessing how games and genres did, what times of the years, performance year to year, how sales did vs last sale or vs last year's sale at the same timeframe. This kinds of questions most Management really want to know and they don't want estimates or guess work.

The volume of data is tremendous yes, but that's why Data Warehousing procedures and cloud based computing are popular as you are capable of handling even such data sets nowadays. Not saying is reasonable for Apple to ask or that they have any legal basis to do so but I am saying that it is feasible to assume a valuable corporation like Valve would otherwise have this data for internal, private use.
 

Uncle Al

Posts: 8,014   +6,783
Valve has no "contract" with apple though, and has nothing to do with this silly lawsuit. They are well within their rights to tell apple to stuff it.

That would be true if none of their sales were impacted; that has not yet been established.
 

Uncle Al

Posts: 8,014   +6,783
Not relevant here, steam sales has nothing to do with apple at all. If I was valve I'd tell apple to go fork themselves and for good measure Gabe can throw their attorney into the half life 3 dev room, nothing ever gets out of there

That would be true if none of their sales were impacted; that has not yet been established.

 

candle_86

Posts: 729   +730
That would be true if none of their sales were impacted; that has not yet been established.

That's not relevant steam does not compete with apple, they are not in the same market. One sells computer games, the other sells mobile. Apple can't lose a sale if somebody wanted a pc game, Apple never had the sale to begin with. An Apple has absolutely no business asking for the sales data on steam, Apple has absolutely no business knowing what the rest of us pie because they think they're entitled to it.
 

candle_86

Posts: 729   +730
I find this curious. Why is valve so protective of the data? If they want to stay out of all of this why aren’t they just cooperating, it’s a legal matter after all. No one is asking Valve to make anything public.

I feel there may be more to this story than what’s written here.

Because it's none of apples business. Apple would likely use this as a way to charge valve later, saying you have an app and we want our 30% even though it wasn't bought on an iphone. Apple is shady like that, if they found a way they'd for sure insist on apple users paying them 30% of their homes value for the ability to have an apple account.