The arguments between Epic Games and Apple continue to reach new levels (and not just because it now spilt into the European Commission as well, as we mentioned recently).
PCGamer found a joint discovery letter brief from November 2020 to get information about Valve‘s revenues and games sold on its digital store Steam, to counter Epic Games’ allegations that it had engaged in monopolistic behaviour with its App Store policies. (Which is what Tim Sweeney‘s company also claims of Steam.)
Apple’s and Valve’s counsels have met, but no agreement was reached. Apple argues that Valve (whose Steam is a dominant digital game distributor and a direct competitor to the Epic Game Store) has information that is highly relevant to the case against Sweeney’s company, but Gabe Newell‘s company retaliated by saying the request is overbroad and that Apple has not shown „substantial need” for the information it seeks. Apple wants to know Valve’s total yearly sales of apps and in-app products, as well as annual advertising revenues, sales of external products, annual revenues, and annual earnings (gross or net) from Steam. They are also requesting documents sufficient to show the name of each app on Steam, the date range they were available, and the price of any app and in-app product on Steam. That’s a heavy burden.
However, Apple argues this information is relevant to its case and not reasonably obtainable elsewhere. This is referring to a previous court order that requested third-party Samsung produce „almost identical information,” including revenue from apps, in-app products, and in-app advertising. „As this Court recognized concerning Samsung, this information is „relevant to showing the extent of competition” among digital distribution platforms available to distribute Fortnite, including the Apple App Store,” Apple argues.
But Valve rebutted, saying it already granted Apple documents regarding its revenue share, competition with Epic, and other relevant documents, but the other party wasn’t satisfied, as the company with the apple in its logo was demanding Valve to produce six years’ worth of game and sales information, as well as „confidential information” about the games and Valve’s revenues. It involves documents about 436 games available on both Steam and the Epic Game Store from materials that Valve „does not create or keep in the ordinary course of business.” Apple, according to Valve, doesn’t show a substantial need for this information, adding that Valve is not competing in the mobile market, plus the requested sales information is „only about a subset of games sold on both Steam and the Epic Games Store.” „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,” Valve said.
So the unexpected partner is not willing to help either party. And Valve is right: the case started over Fortnite’s mobile versions.