What you need to know
- Judge Thomas S. Hixson has ruled Valve will have to produce at least some of the information requested by Apple in its lawsuit with Epic Games.
- Valve had previously refused a subpoena from Apple, saying it had asked for too much information.
- Valve will have to provide some data, after common ground was reached in court.
Valve, developer of the PC and macOS gaming platform Steam will have to provide some information requested by Apple in its lawsuit against Epic Games, after previously refusing to do so.
A discovery hearing on the matter took place remotely on Wednesday, as narrated by Florian Mueller. Following some audio issues, Judge Thomas S. Hixson told Valve that the definition of the relevant market in question was still up for grabs, as Valve tried to argue it didn't operate in the market at stake in Epic's lawsuit:
Magistrate Judge Hixson explains to #Valve's counsel that the definition of the relevant market (total games market if #Apple got its way) could be determined one way or the other. Counsel for Valve, however, says they understood Apple as defining the market as "#Epic". https://t.co/MDd0PPKhorMagistrate Judge Hixson explains to #Valve's counsel that the definition of the relevant market (total games market if #Apple got its way) could be determined one way or the other. Counsel for Valve, however, says they understood Apple as defining the market as "#Epic". https://t.co/MDd0PPKhor— Florian Mueller (@FOSSpatents) February 24, 2021February 24, 2021
Counsel for Valve raised concerns at the hearing over disclosing the sales data of hundreds of games on Steam and reiterated the massive burden the requested data from Apple would place on the relatively small company. Valve noted that aggregated information about historical pricing data was confidential and that it didn't want to disclose information to Epic, its direct competitor in the PC gaming sphere. Valve also spoke about how the PC gaming market was much more than just Steam, and that PC games were available elsewhere, such as on Amazon or in brick-and-mortar retails outlets like GameStop.
Speaking to the subpoenas, Judge Hixson noted Valve wasn't the only company on the receiving end. As noted by Law360, he told Valve that Apple "has salted the earth with subpoenas".
Apple responded by stating that Epic Games' own expert reports mentioned Valve and claimed that aggregate and per-title information would be useful in the case. So what is the purpose of this data? Mueller explains:
A lawyer representing Apple in the ongoing discovery hearing (Epic & class actions) told Magistrate Judge Hixson: they'd like to see whether competition from Epic's app store resulted in lower prices on Valve's Steam. Apple apparently wants to argue: look, Steam kept the 30% rateA lawyer representing Apple in the ongoing discovery hearing (Epic & class actions) told Magistrate Judge Hixson: they'd like to see whether competition from Epic's app store resulted in lower prices on Valve's Steam. Apple apparently wants to argue: look, Steam kept the 30% rate— Florian Mueller (@FOSSpatents) February 24, 2021February 24, 2021
Apple is trying to show that even after Epic Games store entered the PC gaming market, Valve did not lower its 30% rate of commission on Steam sales, a clear argument against the idea that Apple charges its 30% fee because of a lack of competition in the market.
Common ground was reached in the end, and Mueller notes Valve "will have to provide some data" for a shorter period by March 8. It will have a further 30 days to produce more in-depth information on 436 specific titles that are listed on both Steam and the Epic Games store.
As iMore first reported last week, Valve originally refused a subpoena from Apple stating: "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."
Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.
Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9
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