Epic v. 30%

I know there are two camps to be in when it comes to the whole Epic versus “the thirty percent” ordeal, but I find it difficult to base myself in either one.

On one hand, yes, Apple is making a huge pile of money off of the apps in the App Store. Thirty percent has been the industry standard for a facilitator’s take for quite awhile now and it’s not as if they’ve made that decision out of the pure intentions of spinning up an entire ecosystem for developers to cash in on.

However, it’s hard to dismiss that Apple own the entire ecosystem and that one can‘t simply have the government force Apple’s hand to do anything that’s not already considered under the law.

Ultimately, if you want to game on your mobile device and you would prefer to install whatever games you want, you’re not using an iOS device, anyway. If you are, you’re probably jailbreaking it, in which case keeping an App Store-based game up-to-date is more of a pain than a plus. And besides, with a jailbroken iOS device, you have access to the entirety of what emulation can bring you, and that’s a vast library of good ol’ games you can spend hours upon hours with and not spend a dime.

If you really cared about what you were putting on your phone to the point that you want to buck the official repositories for applications and run your own mix of software, you’re already on Android. And you have your own launcher. And you’ve probably rooted your handset already.

The suit that Epic is threatening Apple and Google with is about forcing these two tech giants to bow to another rising tech giant’s dream of becoming even bigger. Not to mention this only raises the platform of a slightly declining Fortnite, which maintains its status as the top tier battle royale in the industry.

Notably absent are the reactions of MSFT, Nintendo, and Sony. I wonder what they think about having their revenues cut back from Epic‘s crusade.

Epic’s spending with relation to esports has never matched up to its care for the integrity of its competition, but you can’t deny that the company has been itching for a real fight to prove itself beyond the gaming industry—especially as it begins furnishing its Unreal technology into more niches. While some might point at its Chinese backing with disdain, it’s still a majority American-held entity. I imagine that its Chinese minority holders don’t care for being shut out of a potential windfall that such an injunction could provide, but in such a politically charged climate regarding outside investment into what could be considered American institutions, I would have to wonder if they’re a little hesitant with Sweeney’s gambit.

In conclusion, the Epic fight is a dumb move to open up Apple’s walled garden in order to grow the slice of its pie.

On Twitch becoming an Amazon property.

Who’d have thought that Monday would see so much Twitch acquisition news? And in that case, an announcement of an acquisition?

For nearly a billion USD, Amazon has picked up one of the highest trafficked sites on the Internet. It seems like a discount for service that serves a video to millions of users every day.1 The proposition’s value compounds considering the high audience events shown on a near-daily basis. With the ever-increasing number of ongoing events such as Riot’s LCS drawing hundreds of thousands of viewers per broadcast, it makes sense that Amazon would want a part in this.

Then there’s the news that Amazon’s new ad service would be pricing its ads on metrics like impressions instead of clicks. Most social networks use the impressions metric when it comes to displaying ads to their users.2

Later in the day of the announcement executives from Amazon and Twitch went on to a live town hall to explain the acquisition in detail. While Twitch’s CEO stayed on message, the Amazon executive shared why the company moved forward with the bid.3

To me, there are two major points that stand out about this acquisition.

The first is that this decision seems to be a business-minded decision on Twitch’s side. Any sort of acquisition—as long as it was in cash—would allow Twitch’s to continue with its current plans. I don’t think that Twitch had financial issues prompting it to find a buyer. I think part of their long-term plan included an acquisition or a large cash infusion. I also think that going public would not have been the right move for Twitch. Due to the current economic climate, the stock market would’ve more than likely eaten Twitch alive.

The second point is that I think expanding the customer base for the ad service was a goal. With Amazon as the parent company along with their new ad service, the acquisition becomes more of a perfect union of sorts. Amazon is looking to plant its new ad service into uncharted territory and Twitch is looking for more ad buyers. The acquisition will give Amazon practical data for their ad service. Before this acquisition, they’ve been allowing users to use Google’s AdSense service. Rest assured, that won’t be the case in the future.

My main reservation? Amazon’s hamstringing of Comixology after acquisition.

Before the announcement, I joked that if the Amazon deal went through that it would mean the end of support for Twitch’s apps. These apps, which are on consoles and platforms like the Xbox 360, the Xbox One, and iOS, are solid performers. Under Amazon leadership, Comixology, a widely heralded comics storefront for mobile devices, notably deviated from native iOS purchasing after being acquired earlier this year, upsetting a lot of users by complicating the purchase process.4

Nowhere in the statements released regarding that purchase mentioned anything about Comixology maintaining independence, though. As for Twitch, Amazon Games VP Michael Frazzini said that Twitch will remain independent in a town hall broadcast the day of the announcement. Regardless, I still think that support for apps on platforms like Apple’s iOS and Microsoft’s Xbox is vulnerable. At the same time, I think customers that use Android-based devices like the Kindle Fire have nothing to fear.

It’s too early to forecast the success of the deal, but I believe within the next year there will be results with which to reach a conclusion. If Amazon reports revenues from its ad service as part of quarterly reports it may be a little bit easier to infer success. If not, observers can only rely on the circlejerk of personalities and salespeople to gauge reaction… and those folks aren’t always reliable.

Twitch had to do it… for some reason.

Ars Technica’s Ron Amadeo made a post two days ago concluding what I just realized last night about the latest Twitch controversy. His post explains the entirety of the situation that Twitch is now in, but this block of speculation at the end feels like it has some weight to it. 1

I don’t see a company prepping for a Google takeover, I see panic. Panic and a lack of understanding of what it should be doing. I think Google would want to keep all the old data instead of deleting it and enforce the DMCA on existing videos by processing takedown requests as they come in, which is all the law requires.

Why is Twitch doing this? Who the hell thinks any of this is a good idea? I think if Google was behind these changes you would see a much more organised and experienced transition. Part of me thinks the Google deal fell through or something and this is Twitch’s attempt to tighten down costs and try to stand on its own.

It’s just weird that all of a sudden there are all these changes over at Twitch and all of them seem to be misguided, harmful to the service, and don’t really solve any of Twitch’s problems.

I would imagine that the PR folks over at Twitch have been on crisis mode for a few days now.

I just don’t understand why they would proceed with a filtering system now. Why not just wait until the Google acquisition goes through? Does Twitch’s value increase by adding a copyright-abuse sniffer system? It doesn’t make sense.