Sorry, Valve! Steam ordered to give up data for Apple vs. Epic Games legal battle

Steam vs Apple
(Image credit: Future/Snappa)

The Apple vs. Epic Games legal drama is getting spicier by the minute. As we mentioned last week, a new filing revealed that Apple subpoenaed Valve to release Steam data that it argues is crucial for building its case against Epic Games. 

Valve pushed back against Apple's request, claiming the Cupertino-based tech giant's demands are too laborious and overwhelming for the PC-game distributor to meet. "Aht, aht, aht!" a US magistrate judge said (I'm paraphrasing of course), "you have to give up all that juicy data or else!" (via Arstechnica).

Do you hear that? Apple just let out a taunting "ha!" to Valve. After Valve refused to give up data for the Apple vs. Epic games antitrust litigation, Judge Thomas Hixson is forcing Valve to tuck its tail between its legs and release the Apple-requested Steam information.

Valve argued, in part, that Apple has no business tapping into its data for its case against Epic Games because it is, first and foremost, a PC-game distributor and has nothing to do with the mobile-app games market. Hixson, on the other hand, disagrees with Valve's notion that its data has no relevance in the Apple vs. Epic Games case.

"[Epic Games alleges] that Apple’s 30% commission on sales through its App Store is anti-competitive and that allowing iOS apps to be sold through other stores would force Apple to reduce its commission to a more competitive level. Well, Steam is one of the largest video game stores for PCs, and it too charges a 30% commission, Hixson said in his order. "Epic Games opened its video game store for PCs in December 2018, and Epic charges a commission that is lower than 30%."

In other words, Epic Games claims Apple's market dominance plays a role in its sky-high 30% fee. According to Epic Games, if there were more stores on the market, Apple's fees would be more reasonable. As such, Hixson states that Steam's data would reveal whether the availability of other stores does, in fact, affect commissions in the way Epic Games alleges.

To give you a recap on Apple's data request, the MacBook maker gave Valve a list of 436 games that are available on the Epic Games Store and Steam. With a date range of 2015 to the present, Apple demanded that Valve offer information on the games' price changes, gross revenues, sale dates and more.  Apple is also asking for the following:

  • 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

According to the order, Valve has 30 days to reveal the information that Apple has requested. We'll definitely keep an eye on this juicy Apple vs. Epic Games legal drama and keep you updated as new information pops up.

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!