A US magistrate judge ordered Valve to provide sales data to Apple in response to a subpoena issued amid Apple’s ongoing legal fight with Epic Games.
In addition to some aggregated sales data for the entirety of Steam, Valve will only need to provide specific pricing and sales data by title for “436 specific apps that are available on both Steam and the Epic Games Store,” depending on the order. . That’s a significant decrease from the more than 30,000 Apple titles for which Apple originally requested data.
In resisting the subpoena, Valve argued that its Steam sales data was irrelevant to the questions about the purely mobile app markets at issue in the case. Refocusing the request only on games available on both Steam and the Epic Games Store makes it more directly relevant to the mobile competition questions in the case, writes Judge Thomas Hixson in his order.
“Remember that in these related cases, [Epic] allege that Apple’s 30% commission on sales through its App Store is anti-competitive and that allowing iOS applications to be sold through other stores would force Apple to reduce its commission to a more competitive level, “writes Hixson. in to the Order”. … in 436 specific games sold on both Steam and the Epic store, Apple is looking to find out if availability from other stores does indeed affect commissions down the road [Epic] plead.”
Just hand it over
Valve’s attorney, Gavin Skok, also argued that responding to the subpoena would be too onerous for the company, as it would require multiple full-time employees to work hours to collect data from multiple sources for each game (as reported by Law360 ). In his order, Judge Hixson said the data collection “did not seem so burdensome.” That said, Hixson agreed to limit the response to data starting in 2017 (instead of 2015, as Apple requested) because the Epic Games Store didn’t exist until 2018.
Hixson also rejected arguments that Apple should subpoena individual developers for their pricing and sales data, saying the potential effort would pose an “undue burden” on Apple. The judge added that this sales information is not confidential to the developers involved and that “Valve has a store and how much it sells of what is its own information.”
In 2018, Valve decided to effectively block services like Steam Spy or Ars’ own Steam Gauge from creating public estimates of Steam game sales based on data samples from individual public user accounts. Valve said in July 2018 that it was working on a “more accurate” replacement for the Steam Spy data, but has only released sporadic and incomplete summaries of the Steam market in subsequent years.
“Valve’s decision to remain private means that it avoids the public company’s disclosure and reporting requirements, but does not immunize the company against [legal] discovery, “Hixson continued.” The protective orders in these actions allow Valve to designate your documents as confidential or highly confidential to address competition concerns, and that protection is sufficient. “
Valve will have 30 days to provide the requested data to Apple.