In the latest chapter in the ongoing saga between Apple and Epic Games, Apple has officially subpoenaed Epic’s long-time rival Steam and its parent company Valve for information it claims will help bring its ongoing legal battle with Epic to a close. The suit is scheduled to go to trial in May of this year, but as of yet, negotiations between the two companies haven’t led to any agreements or compromises.
The trouble famously began in August of last year when Epic, in a bid to undercut mobile providers Apple and Google, began offering a discount on Fortnite‘s in-game currency, V-bucks, with the caveat that they could only be purchased via the Epic Direct service rather than the iOS App or Google Play store. This meant that Google and Apple would no longer be getting a cut of the profits from consumer purchasing of in-game currency. Apple, who will never be the first to be cut out of potential profits without a fight, promptly removed Fortnite from the app store, with Google following shortly thereafter. With 116 millions players suddenly out of the game, Epic swiftly filed suit against Apple, alleging anti-competitive conduct and monopolization.
Apple upped the ante by removing Epic Games entirely from the app store, and subsequently subpoenaed Epic’s rival, Valve, for information pertaining to sales, distribution figures, and revenue, in order to establish comparative “economic substitutes” for Epic. Valve, as a direct competitor to Epic, would have business information “crucial for calculating the total size of the market for Epic’s available digital distribution channels,” Apple alleges in its subpoena — information that could dispel Epic’s accusations against Apple of monopolization. Valve, however, has fired back that it isn’t a suitable substitute for Epic, according to Games Radar, that it has already shared what it feels is a suitable amount of information that it had readily available, and doesn’t feel compelled to share more. As a result, both companies have submitted a formal response to the subpoena indicating that all efforts to come to a reasonable agreement to the benefit of both parties have failed.
It’s fair to say that Apple doesn’t have much of a reason to drag Valve into its legal dispute with Epic, considering that the only similarity between the two companies from a business perspective is that they both operate as streaming services. But regardless of the reasoning, a judge will now decide exactly how much information Valve will be compelled to share with Apple in order to move the case forward before it goes to trial in May. Valve has already balked at the subpoena as an unfair burden on both its staff and its business as a whole, and it wouldn’t be surprising if Valve initiated legal action against Apple once the Epic Games trial comes to pass.
So Fortnite players who were hoping for a speedy resolution between Apple and Epic Games are fresh out of luck, and that Fortnite ban on iOS is most likely going to last longer than the promised year. Between now and the trial in May, there are likely more legal hurdles for all parties involved to jump through before any sort of resolution between the three warring companies can be reached. And as far as Valve and Apple is concerned, Apple has already shown that it doesn’t back down from a legal challenge, so it’s doubtful that the situation will be resolved without a court date either.
Source: Games Radar