The Decentralists

Hot Topix: Store Wars

August 27, 2020 Mike Cholod, Henry Karpus & Chris Trottier
Hot Topix: Store Wars
The Decentralists
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The Decentralists
Hot Topix: Store Wars
Aug 27, 2020
Mike Cholod, Henry Karpus & Chris Trottier

On this episode of The Decentralists, we are talking about a literal Epic—as in, Epic Games’ antitrust battle against Apple and Google. 

Last week, both Apple and Google decided to ban Epic’s multiplatform hit game Fortnite from their respective App and Play Stores. Immediately, Epic followed these bans with an antitrust lawsuit. Michael, Henry, and Chris answer the following questions:

Is it fair that Apple demands 30% of all transactions made through the App Store? Are Apple and Google using their market position to demand unfair rates from developers? Is Apple right to ban Fortnite from the App Store?

We also discuss Peer Social’s unexpected suspension from Twitter and the circumstances behind it. We’re still suspended so more to come next week on another PeerFriday edition of The Decentralists.

Show Notes Transcript

On this episode of The Decentralists, we are talking about a literal Epic—as in, Epic Games’ antitrust battle against Apple and Google. 

Last week, both Apple and Google decided to ban Epic’s multiplatform hit game Fortnite from their respective App and Play Stores. Immediately, Epic followed these bans with an antitrust lawsuit. Michael, Henry, and Chris answer the following questions:

Is it fair that Apple demands 30% of all transactions made through the App Store? Are Apple and Google using their market position to demand unfair rates from developers? Is Apple right to ban Fortnite from the App Store?

We also discuss Peer Social’s unexpected suspension from Twitter and the circumstances behind it. We’re still suspended so more to come next week on another PeerFriday edition of The Decentralists.

Henry : Hey everyone, it's Henry, Mike, and Chris of The Decentralists, it's Hot Topix time, this time we're going to be talking about Fortnite and the antitrust battle with Google and Apple, an explosive topic to be sure. But this is going to be a bit different because we're also going to incorporate this week's Peer Friday chat on Twitter, normally hosted at this time by Mike and Chris; seems like the boys went and got themselves suspended from Twitter yesterday, so yeah, no Peer Friday today. I'm confused, gentlemen, what's going on?

Mike : Well, Henry, I woke up yesterday morning, Thursday morning typically Chris and I would be preparing for a 10 question Q&A on Twitter at 10:00 AM on Friday and I found out that my Twitter account has been suspended. Seriously, this is something that we've been talking about for about a year and a half, kind of the risks of decentralized platforms and building kind of influence and community on a platform that you don't own and this is literally a serving of our own dog food, Twitter has suspended my account, The Decentralists,

Henry : Why? What have we done wrong? I can't imagine, we're just talking about technology for goodness sake.

Mike : Yeah, we didn't do anything wrong, I can't understand what we did wrong.

Chris : Nothing wrong, we never violated the terms of service whatsoever.

Mike : Chris, tell us why, I have no idea.

Chris : So, the fact is that I'm a social media professional, I've been a social media professional for 12 years and part of my job is to create accounts and operate accounts on behalf of clients. What Twitter decided to do yesterday is that they decided to essentially ban every account I have created and operated over a four-year period.

Mike : I wonder why?

Chris : No exceptions. So even accounts that have not been in use for four years, even accounts that have sent a collective amount of two tweets, were banned. I do social media and help Mike with his account, Mike's account was banned,'s account was banned, The Decentralists account was banned, Twitter decided to be very scattershot in their approach.

Mike : Yeah, this sounds like carpet bombing, this isn't tactical, this is strategic; they clearly figured out that you have more than one account and that's what tweet [Cross-Talking].

Chris : But the problem is, and I've looked through their terms of service; I've worked for Hootsuite and Hootsuite's whole value prop is, Hey, it's a service that allows people to manage multiple accounts. Managing multiple accounts is not against Twitter's terms of service, they clearly say that if you're managing a corporate account, which I do, that's what is, that's not against the terms of service. They say that if it's a hobbyist account, which I've done, that's not against terms of service, they say that if each account has its own unique identity and is linked to an actual person that it's not against the terms of service. Mike , are you a real person?

Mike : Yes, I am, Chris.

Chris : Well, there you go, and is The Decentralists a real podcast?

Mike : I think that it is.

Chris : So, essentially and I'm going to give you an analogy here; what's been going on is that Twitter sent me to jail, but they sent all of my friends to jail in the process too. Now, after an hour of being banned Twitter let me out, so my personal account, Atomic Poet is no longer banned but Michael  is still banned and is still banned. So, essentially what's going on here is that I'm supposedly the perpetrator, but I've been let out but all of my friends are still stuck in jail.

Henry : Yeah, that's not so good.

Mike : Well, so I'm fired up about this, Chris is clearly fired up about this and I think that this is a topic for greater attention next week, you know what I mean. I think that we'll be recording a Hot Topix on this banning next week but this week we have something more important to talk about for Peer Friday.

Henry : Exactly, okay, guys, now that we have that out of the way, let's move on to the topic of Fortnite and their store wars.

Mike : I love that one.

Henry : I know, that's a great one, now before we get into the Q&A how about a bit of background? Now, I'm not Mr. Computer Games, especially the ones that are across the internet, but what exactly is Fortnite, and what have they done to piss off Apple and Google?

Mike : Well, I'll take a bit of a setup and then we'll let Chris give you some details, but Henry, last week I believe that it was the 13th of August, Fortnite, so Fortnite is a big multi-player shoot 'em up, beat 'em up video game; that's basically what it is, it's a huge multi-player universe.

Henry : Do they call it a first-person shooter?

Mike : Kind of, it's a first-person shooter, it's basically, you see these games where you run around and you Kung Fu people and you Judo Chop them, or you shoot them or you magic sword them or whatever. And so, basically, normally you would buy these games and they would be Call of Duty or some other name, and you would load it onto your computer or your PlayStation and you'd play this thing with a couple of buddies. 

Well, Epic Games built a PC and Mac version of one of these big games and created this huge world, universe, if you will, online; where anybody can join up and they basically go into this game and they start off and the idea with Fortnite is that it's fun. So, the idea is that you go in and you're walking around this world and you're finding people to beat up and shoot, or whatever and then what you do is that you win little things, maybe new uniforms or you can buy little things, so you could buy yourself like the Sword of Cluthu and stuff like this.

Henry : Oh, you have to pay for it.

Chris : So, the way that it works, Henry is that it's free to play but there are little bonuses which you can pay for.

Mike : And so, the idea is that these bonuses and these things are basically things that you buy while you're in the game, and so on a PC and a Mac, that's no problem Epic has a store, they've been doing this for years; you go to their store online, you buy the game, you download it for your Mac or your PC, and then you go and play. And if you want to buy the Sword of Cluthu, you can buy some tokens or give them some money, and they'll give you a Sword of Cluthu for your digital character, so what happened is that this, but this has completely upturned in the mobile device world. 

So, in the mobile device world, you cannot load anything onto a mobile device that's owned by Apple and to a lesser extent, one that is running the Android operating system by Google, without passing a 30% charge. So, if you charge a dollar you have to give 30 cents to Apple for facilitating the transaction, so somebody can download the game and off they go.

Henry : Then the game is free, but you're talking about in-app purchases.

Mike : And so, what happened is, to make this short story long is that Fortnite came out on the 13th with an upgrade that allowed players in the mobile version of Fortnite to purchase in-app upgrades by circumventing the Apple app store and they were cheaper. So, rather than a 30% margin, those upgrades had a 12% margin, so instead of costing you say 75 cents, the Sword of Cluthu costs you 65 cents.

Henry : So, a discount, why would anybody buy and pay more expensive.

Mike : And so, immediately slap down, Apple bans them, violating terms of service banned and within like an hour Fortnite has an antitrust suit filed against them in court. So, and then literally an hour later, Google did the same thing, banned them, so let's get into it.

Henry : Yeah, because right now we have about 10 questions here and the first one we're just leading right into; as you said, Apple demands 30% of all transactions, the money goes to them through the app store. Is this fair?

Mike : Chris, why don't you take the first shot at this one?

Chris : My answer to that is plainly I don't know, I think that Apple should get a cut because they have to validate the apps, make sure that there are no viruses on them, make sure that they're secure, make sure that they're quality enough to be hosted on the app store and they also host the apps themselves.

Henry : And they maintain the store too.

Chris : That's right, so there's value in that, now is that worth 30%, being a hardcore capitalist that most people in business are, the market is the market; the market is about sustainability, it's whatever the price that you ask if the market allows for that then that's the price. Except, and there's a caveat here, except if the market price is enforced by a monopoly, so for example, if you are the only service in town and there's no competition, nobody else to say, Hey, we're offering this service, but at another rate, at a variable rate, well, then it's not fair because the game now is rigged.

Henry : In Apple's defence, if one wants to defend them, their entire history is being a closed technology system where they do everything, hardware, software, whatever and if you want to play with them, you pay and you get good quality products.

Mike : Okay, I'm going to take exception. So, gentlemen, I kind of agree with you, but I actually think that the 30 per percent that Apple takes is bullshit, no, I really do and I'll tell you why. The first simple reason is that I paid for my iPhone, I paid over a thousand dollars for my iPhone, which means that I bought the hardware and the OS and you could argue that I pay a hundred bucks a month for the service to access the app store and the internet and everything. 

I could go out and spend that same thousand dollars on a PC from Dell, running an operating system from Microsoft and the moment that I take it out of the store, those guys don't make any money and cannot control what I load on the device.

Henry : And it's a lot less than a thousand dollars.

Mike : Well, but this is my point, the fact that you've purchased the hardware and the operating system means that you should be able to do whatever you want, plain and simple. So, the fact that they have this monopoly, to me from Apple's perspective and you alluded to it, Henry is Apple for years and years and years was a closed ecosystem like really closed where only Apple programmed stuff for their own devices. And then as Apple grew, they had to invite in other developers and as they invite in third-party developers, but they want to maintain a closed ecosystem, they slapped this wall up in front of people. 

And the problem is that you can't allow people to run their own business and then tell them that they're the sheriff and the judge and the jury, that's the problem here.

Henry : And you were alluding to the fact that here's a question too, for you, Apple by nature positions itself as the arbiter of trust because it verifies the safety of every app on its platform. So, Mike, shouldn't they get a cut of every transaction, I would think that they should, but maybe 30% is too much.

Mike : Well, I think that you could argue the steps that they take to make the application safe because there have been applications that people have loaded onto their phones that have been used to say, take their data, personal data and use it to influence elections; it wasn't like the Cambridge Analytica thing, and Facebook didn't run on an iPhone. So, that's the first thing, is that there are clearly different gates being applied and I'm betting that Apple, all that they're looking for is technical fit, not necessarily what is behind the operations. 

And the second piece that I think about this arbiter of trust is that trust is something that is inherent to the person operating the device and different people have different layers of trust. And this is the same; to me Apple arguing that they should be the arbiter of trust in the app store is the same as Facebook arguing that they should be the arbiter of trust of what you see on your newsfeed, this is the same type of argument from my perspective.

Chris : So, I also want to say here that I don't think that Apple should get a cut of every transaction through its platform, definitely some transactions they should get a cut of; they should get a cut if they're approving apps, definitely, they should get a cut if the transaction is through their storefront. But if the transaction is not through their storefront and they didn't make any or do any of the work to make that transaction happen, do they get a cut?

Henry : Oh, you mean like the in-app purchase?

Chris : Exactly, so I don't think that if somebody has come along and created another storefront in their app, I don't think that Apple should necessarily get a cut. And to give you an analogy, imagine if I opened up a hardware store app on the app store, should Apple get a cut of every sale?

Mike : Well, they would, according to Apple.

Chris : Well, Apple might think that they deserve it, but I don't think that Apple made any efforts to facilitate that sale.

Henry : Yeah, no, good point. Question three; developers believe that Apple behaves like a monopoly over app developers and that they use their platform to make unreasonable demands of them. Is this a valid concern? Can we take the perspective as a developer, what do you think guys?

Mike : I kind of feel like the idea of developing software is that you should be able to develop an application to do something, so Chris' point, I want to sell hardware and I want to use it through an app; an app is something that just facilitates some kind of exchange of information or transaction between two people. What the app store does is facilitate the app that facilitates the transaction, and so I believe that putting restraints on developers on how that they, I could build the best app-based hardware store, but if Apple will not let me list it for some reason, nobody that runs an iPhone or uses an iPhone will ever be able to buy hardware off of my online hardware store. 

And if my online hardware store is the best online hardware store on the planet, those people do not get to benefit from it, and I think that's an unfair advantage that Apple has over businesses and like over an entire ecosystem, app development. I don't think that anybody should have that kind of control and they almost broke Microsoft up in the nineties for having that type of control over operating systems and browsers and search engines and everything and this is the same thing, it's just that it points at mobile.

Chris : I think that Apple definitely acts as a monopoly and the proof is that, well, first off, if you're an app developer, you can't make an app that is similar to an app that Apple makes.

Mike : Or better.

Chris : Or better, they will not allow apps that duplicate apps that Apple has already created for iOS, with certain exceptions, so certainly Apple will Microsoft Office because Microsoft Office is Microsoft Office but good luck putting in a flashlight app onto the app store nowadays. The other reason why I think that Apple behaves as a monopoly is, think about how many companies they've put out of business because Apple has decided, Hey, I like that app, I'm going to create my own version of that app and they do, and now that company can no longer operate, at least on iOS.

Mike : And you hear that all the time from the antitrust regulators, that argument there is one that I hear quite a bit. You hear app store developers who develop something and they put it in the app store, it's approved it's in and then another upgrade of iOS later that app is banned and the functionality is part of iOS.

Henry : It happens.

Mike : Like a monopoly position for sure.

Henry : Yeah, absolutely, okay, question four; last week Epic Games decided to uncouple their hit game Fortnite's in-app transactions from the Apple and the Google ecosystem. Why would Epic do this?

Mike : Do you want my opinion?

Henry : Absolutely, I know that you have one.

Mike : Of course, to provoke this fight and I love them for it, I think that what Fortnite has done is, one of the articles that I read early on, Gizmodo was one of the first ones to break this story last week on the 13th and what they mentioned, they alluded to it being a trap that was set for Apple and Google. And I agree with them because what Fortnite is indicating is a behaviour by Apple and Google, and this is complete evidence of monopolistic behaviour. And so, if the antitrust regulators in Europe and North America have been literally drooling for some kind of an airtight case against Apple and Google, Fortnite just gave it to them, mark my words.

Chris : And on that point, Mike this is a fight that Epic can fight, unlike other developers on iOS, Epic doesn't make the bulk of their money from mobile games.

Henry : Hmm, okay.

Chris : Certainly they make a nice chunk of it, Hey, I would like to make the money that they make off iOS, but Epic makes their games through something called the Unreal Engine, which they sell to other app developers. So, the graphics that you see in other mobile games and PC games and console games, Epic makes that.

Henry : Oh, really?

Chris : Yeah, that's Epic's main source of revenue, is the Unreal Engine.

Henry : So, they have money.

Chris : Oh, they have lots of money, Epic is one of the most successful game developers in the world. Upon talking about Fortnite; Fortnite's big success isn't on mobile, it's on PC and console, most people who play Fortnite, would rather play Fortnite on PC or console, the mobile aspect of Fortnite is just a nice bonus. It's not even that much of a fun experience to play on iOS.

Henry : And it's a small screen too.

Chris : It's a small screen, if you want to have the nice Fortnite experience, get yourself a nice PC tower with a keyboard and mouse and go at it. So, this is a fight that Epic is able to do because they can afford to do it.

Henry : Okay, so as a consequence of uncoupling, Apple turned around and removed Epic from their app store, so were they right to do this?

Mike : If I'm Apple, sure, If I'm Apple I'm like, I have a right to do anything that I want and I think that this is part of Apple's problem and I'm an Apple guy, I wasn't forever but I've been an Apple guy for probably the last 10 years because I like the hardware and all of this, but what I don't like is this attitude. I don't like Apple having an attitude that they own control, manage everything, all of the devices that they make, I don't like the liberties that they take with me as somebody who's purchased their hardware. 

And so, if I'm Apple, I'm like, okay, I'm going to kick them out of my app store because they're violating this protective umbrella ecosystem, which is what they try to sell all Apple people. But the problem is that the protective ecosystem also leads to each of us buying 17 new dongles every time that we buy a laptop or a phone, things like this, so the idea is this, are they in the business of selling phones and operating systems. Or are they in the business of facilitating the delivery of software and content to phones and operating systems? They can't be both and that's why we're in this problem.

Henry : Well, but they have evolved to be both and of course, litigation and rules never keep up to the speed of technology, so not much we can do about that.

Chris : Henry just again with question five was Apple right to do this; from Apple's perspective, they can't show favoritism to any app developers and if they allowed Epic to do this would start a chain reaction of every Tom, Dick, and Harry with an app trying to do this. Even worse because it's a virtual currency that Epic is dealing with here, this might open the door to blockchain transactions, which is a whole world that Apple can't control whatsoever. From Apple's perspective, sure they're right but from an antitrust perspective, were they right? I don't think so at all and further to that, to echo Mike's point, Apple has to decide what kind of company they are. Are they a consumer hardware company or are they all about services?

Henry : Good point, so question six; within hours of Apple removing Fortnite from the app store, Epic sued Apple and Google for antitrust behaviour. Now, do they even have a chance of winning? It's not just one company they're trying to sue two companies.

Mike : Well, Henry, from my perspective, I think that they have a very, very good chance of winning against Apple because Apple is a closed ecosystem where Apple exercises undeniable, and they don't even take a lot of effort to deny it, monopolistic behaviour. And their attitude is we've told you upfront, so why are you surprised? Whereas with Google, they're a little bit different, they programmed their operating system to try to give other handset manufacturers a fighting chance against the iPhone back in the days when it was first released.

Henry : Yeah and as a result aren't most of the phones out there android.

Mike : That's right, and so as a result now, all the phones, well, the majority of the phones are Android, at least the affordable ones, so especially in kind of parts of the third world and the second world, in places like this, where it's more about the affordability of the handset. So, you could argue that Android has a wider reach, but Google, by virtue of it being open-source, the operating system has less control over how apps get onto the devices than Apple. So, I think that they have a chance of not necessarily, I think that Epic could lose against Google is my point, there will beat Apple for sure.

Henry : Chris, what do you think?

Chris : I have the opposite opinion; I think that Apple has a good chance to succeed against Epic because they're not a monopoly when it comes to the handset market. Most people, if they don't like Apple, can go use Android instead, Android on the other hand is the majority of the market, now as Mike said, Apple is a closed platform and they make no bones about it. Now, on the other hand, Google pretends that it's an open platform, but in practice, it's also a closed platform.

Henry : Really?

Chris : Yep, so Fortnite tried to create an Android version of a Fortnite that was not on Google Play, in fact, they resisted Google Play until April 2020, so for two years, the only way to get Fortnite for Android was to go use an alternative app store on Android. But unfortunately, Epic learned that if you're not on the official Google Play Store, you're invisible, so Google won that battle with Apple; Epic was forced to go use their official app store, and here we are. So, unfortunately, when it comes to quote-unquote openness, I think that Google's much more of a monopoly than Apple.

Mike : Interesting.

Henry : Gee, I had no idea, okay, that's good. Question seven; since Fortnite's release on iOS, Apple has made something like 360 million dollars from in-app transactions, is that excessive? Heck, it's nothing for Apple but no, really, is it excessive?

Mike : Totally, it's nothing for Apple, but hells yes it is, and I'll tell you why. My biggest beef with this Fortnite, Apple; Fortnite, Google, taking a margin thing on this is that you can download Fortnite for free, and you could start this game for free, like a lot of the apps on the app store. And heck as an app developer, it's always a question, running a startup as we are doing, what are you going to charge for the app? Everybody expects the apps to be free, you know what I mean, we've talked about this, and this is what leads to kind of irresponsible behaviour and things like this with apps. 

But what it means is that Apples going out and Google are going out and they're allowing Fortnite and other app developers to list the app on the store for free, so what do Apple and Google make on that transaction to get Fortnite onto my handset, zero. And they acknowledge that by allowing me to list for free, so getting it into my phone doesn't cost anything except the $200 Apple developer certificate or whatever it is. 

Yet once it's on my phone and the value that has been created for me by the Epic Games guys and Fortnite makes me want to go and buy a new pair of funky yellow shoes for my character, or the Sword of Cluthu, I now have to pay a margin to Apple on that. And that to me is the rub, if they're saying that they need to make the ecosystem safe and they have to make money in order to do that and all of this, then why are they allowing people to list apps for free in the first place, that's my point?

Henry : Chris, what do you think?

Chris : I think that it all comes down to how much work has Apple done to make these in-app transactions happen, so I'm not saying that Apple does not deserve a cut. But as Mike said, since people have already downloaded the app and after they download the app Apple does little work to make those in-app transactions happen; I personally just don't think that it's worth 30%, I absolutely do think that it's excessive.

Henry : Fair enough.

Mike : It's a little bit of both.

Henry : Okay, no, good point. Question eight; unlike other developers, Epic Games owns its own digital store, I think that you had mentioned that earlier just like Apple and Google, and they actually earn commission from each sale. So, is epic behaving like a hypocrite?

Mike : I don't think so, I think that Epic is behaving like a business, they're programming games and the reason why we're in this thing is that they programmed a game that has a different monetization strategy than most games do. Up until these guys like Fortnite, or you could argue what was the one before, Second Life and things like this, before these things, you bought a game, you spent 30 bucks, you put it on your Atari or your PlayStation and you played it. 

Whereas now, you get these games for free, and then you're doing all these things to get little upgrades and things on the inside, to me, that's a creative way of doing business and I don't think that Epic programming a game called Fortnite, hosting it in their own store and selling their own upgrades just sounds like smart business to me.

Henry : Chris, do you agree?

Chris : Yes, but I think that I should explain a little bit more about their digital store. So, Epic has a digital storefront, The Epic Game Store that they release for PC and Mac, it's a little form of digital rights management, DRM, if you are, for example, Capcom the makers of Street Fighter or Sega, you can go ahead and sell Capcom and Sega games there and Epic will take a cut from the sale. 

Now, the margin isn't 30%, the margin that they take I believe is somewhere in between 8 to 12%, nowhere near as excessive as Apple and one of the reasons why Epic is in the position that they're in is that they can say, Hey, not only do we operate a successful digital storefront, just like Apple and Google but we're able to have success with substantially fewer margins. Epic is so successful now, that a number of game developers will only sell their games on the Epic Game Store, the previous leader, actually, still current leader was Valve's Steam, which is also on PC and Mac and they charge 30% revenue just like Apple does. 

And I should say that Epic's game store is actually very controversial amongst PC gamers because PC gamers don't like the fact that they have to go to Epic exclusively to get these games. And some might even accuse Epic of abusing its market position by being able to attract all these game developers to exclusively sell their games on their app store.

Henry : Wow I had no idea.

Chris : But at the same time, are they being a hypocrite? No, I don't think that they're being a hypocrite, their margin is 8 to 12%, Apple's margin is 30%.

Henry : Got it, so let's move on to question nine, second to the last question but you touched on it already, Chris. What's the difference between Epic's digital store and the Apple and Google stores?

Mike : Well, if I can jump in on this one, I think that there's a clear difference, the difference between the two of them is, and don't get me wrong, I think that there are some similarities in the fact that Epic will say, if you want to buy Fortnite for PC or Mac, you have to come to my store to buy it, which is fine. Now, the difference is that it's the platform itself, like this is Epic's Fortnite game, if you're not a gamer and you don't know anything about Fortnite or whatever, you can still use your phone, you can still load apps, you can still access things, you know what I mean. 

Whereas, like Apple and Google can at any time like, look at this is kind of also, there are parallels in this whole Fortnite scenario to the scenario that's happening right now with the weaponization of social media at TikTok getting banned. Because now you have up to something crazy, like 2 billion people or something like this, have Apple handsets, and now none of them can use Fortnite ever and the same thing with Google to a certain extent, to a lesser extent for Google Play and this is completely ridiculous.

Chris : Yeah, the other difference is that when you're using an app on an iPhone, it surely comes from the Apple app store and same with Google, it most probably comes from the Play Store as well; when you use a PC or a Mac, your software can come from a myriad of different places. Sure you could be getting it from Apple's app store if you're using a Mac, but you could also download and install it from the software developer's website if you so choose. And if you so choose, you can buy your software from a big box brick and mortar store and if you so choose, you can install somebody else's digital storefront, which is what Epic's game store is. 

Epic's game store does not come from your PC, it does not come with your Mac, you have to go out of your way to install it and if you don't want to use the Epic Game Store, you could use Xbox Game Pass, or you could use Steam, or you could use EA's version or Ubisoft's version of the game store. There are a myriad of options, there are no options if you are an iPhone user or an Android user.

Mike : Correct. One of them; the Epic store is theoretically locking you to a game or like an app, which an app developer can choose to do, and the other ones, Apple and Google play are locking you to a platform, an ecosystem, and that to me is completely different.

Henry : Fair enough guys, last question, question 10; again, we touched on this, but we have a bigger perspective this time. The US government has been putting Apple and Google under antitrust's scrutiny, is this Epic situation, the lawsuit, is it the smoking gun that they've been looking for?

Mike : I've already said it, absolutely, I do not see with the facts of this case because one other wrinkle that I'll add that happened, I think two days ago is Apple upped the ante and threatened to kick Epic out of the Apple developer program.

Henry : Oh, really?

Mike : Which now, I believe means that they cannot legitimately offer Fortnite on the Mac OS as well as iOS.

Chris : It also threatens Epic's middleware business because remember all of these app developers, they depend on Epic.

Mike : Yes, and this Unreal Engine, that's another thing, is Chris' point about the Unreal Engine, Apple banning Epic will also ban any game that uses the Unreal Graphics Engine from working as well, or from getting any upgrades. So they're literally banning an ecosystem, these guys are so finished, it's done, like, this is a smoking gun as I said, I think at the end of the blog that we did this week, Epic gave Apple and Google the smoking gun and they chose to use it.

Henry : Fascinating.

Chris : I'll just also say this that if they managed to ban the Unreal Engine, Apple is so screwed when it comes to gaming on any of their platforms because if you want to play triple-A, top of the line gaming titles, you need the Unreal Engine. Sad to say that you do because they're one of the best, there's a reason why game developers pay a premium for the Unreal Engine and they don't depend on free platforms such as Unity.

Henry : Fair enough, guys, I have to tell you that I learned a huge amount today and I like the way when we answer these questions, we go in a whole bunch of different directions that I don't expect, so I really thank you for that.

Mike : Thank you, Henry.

Henry : I say I'm looking forward to talking about this more in the future.

Mike : Oh, I'm sure that there'll be a store wars part two, don't you worry.

Henry : Oh, I hope so, that's it for store wars for this Hot Topix, thank you, Mike, and thank you, Chris.

Mike : Thank you, Henry.

Chris : Thank you, Henry.