Apple wants to drag Steam into its Fortnite legal drama — and Valve isn't having it

Steam vs Apple
(Image credit: Future/Snappa)

The Apple vs. Epic Games legal battle — ignited by Epic Games' attempt to circumvent Apple's App Store fees — is continuing to heat up. Now, Apple is trying to wrangle Steam into the highly publicized dispute. Valve, Steam's parent company, is pushing back.

PCGamer got its hands on a juicy new filing that reveals that the iPhone maker subpoenaed Valve last November, demanding massive amounts of data that will benefit Apple's case against Epic Games. Valve, however, is refusing to give up this information, claiming Apple's request is overkill.

Valve snubs Apple request for massive amounts of data

To recap, the Apple vs. Epic Games saga began last year on August 13. Epic Games updated Fortnite on iOS and Android devices. The upgrade allowed players to purchase V-Bucks directly from Epic Games' platform, helping Epic Games dodge Apple and Google's app-store fees (both charge a 30% transaction fee).

In a petty game of tit-for-tat, Apple removed Fortnite from the Apple Store (and Google quickly followed suit). Epic Games fought back by slapping Apple with a lawsuit, claiming the Cupertino-based tech giant is violating antitrust law.


Fornite (Image credit: nikkimeel/Shutterstock)

In November, Apple subpoenaed Valve to acquire data that would be essential in building its case against Epic, which is all about proving that it does not limit competition via market dominance. As The Verge mentioned, Valve's data is "immensely valuable in assessing the marketplace for games and apps — a space in which Apple’s iOS App Store continues to compete with Valve’s Steam marketplace."

However, Valve has no desire to relinquish this information because, according to the gaming juggernaut, the data that Apple is demanding is too overwhelming. 

Here are some of Apple's data requests:

  • Steam's total annual sales of apps and in-app products
  • Steam's annual advertising revenue
  • Steam's annual sales of external products 
  • yearly revenues from Steam
  • annual earnings (gross or net) from Steam

In addition, Apple supplied Valve with a list of 436 games that are available on the Epic Game Store and Steam. With a date range of 2015 to present, Apple demanded that Valve offer information on the games' price changes, gross revenues, sale dates and more. Valve argues that Apple's data request requires too much damn work.

The filing noted that Apple initially requested data on 30,000+ games over a span of a decade, but the Cupertino-based tech giant reduced that number to 436 games with a six-year range instead. However, Valve still contends that the data it'd have to procure for Apple is too exhaustive. On top of that, Valve believes Apple could get the information it needs from third-party developers, but it's taking a shortcut by depending on Valve.

Apple isn't buying Valve's argument, though. "Valve has admitted to Apple’s counsel that the information requested exists in the normal course of business, but Valve simply refuses to produce it in any of the formats Apple suggested," Apple's legal team said.

As if to say, "What more do you want from me?", Valve said that it has already offered information regarding its revenue share, competition with Epic Games, distribution contracts and more. Secondly, Valve can't understand why Apple is seeking information from Steam — it has nothing to do with the mobile-app space.

"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," Valve's legal counsel argued.

We have no idea how this legal tussle will end, but this dispute is admittedly juicy. We'll be sitting here with popcorn watching it all go down.

Kimberly Gedeon

Kimberly Gedeon, holding a Master's degree in International Journalism, launched her career as a journalist for MadameNoire's business beat in 2013. She loved translating stuffy stories about the economy, personal finance and investing into digestible, easy-to-understand, entertaining stories for young women of color. During her time on the business beat, she discovered her passion for tech as she dove into articles about tech entrepreneurship, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and the latest tablets. After eight years of freelancing, dabbling in a myriad of beats, she's finally found a home at Laptop Mag that accepts her as the crypto-addicted, virtual reality-loving, investing-focused, tech-fascinated nerd she is. Woot!