Fortnite avoids Google Play in protest of their “disproportionate” cut

Posted on August 4, 2018

Fortnite: Battle Royale is set to launch on Android devices soon, although it won’t be found on the Google Play store. The smash hit game is  already available on all other platforms including iOS where it released earlier in the year. The iOS version of the game is downloadable from the Apple store, so why has Epic Games come out and announced that they won’t be supporting Android’s native storefront?

Quite simply, it’s because they don’t have to. Similarly to the PC, Android is an open platform that doesn’t require applications to be purchased from, or run via, its native operating systems. iOS on the other hand is about as closed as closed platforms can get. Epic Games already requires PC users to launch the game through the Epic Games client rather than pre-established services such as Steam or the Windows Store. So to have them do the same on Android makes sense… kind of.

The decision by Epic Games is an interesting one because they are essentially the first development company to do this. Being visible and easily accessible on the Google Play service is essential for most games and it’s also what most gamers demand. Downloading programs from other sources is risky for mobile users and your phone will even warn against doing so when you try. It’s also become such a standard for mobile users that many gamers may be confused and unable to find or uncover how to download and play the game.

Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney made a statement to Forbes about their decision:

“On open platforms like PC, Mac, and Android, Epic’s goal is to bring its games directly to customers. We believe gamers will benefit from competition among software sources on Android.  Competition among services gives consumers lots of great choices and enables the best to succeed based on merit.”

“Avoiding the 30% “store tax” is a part of Epic’s motivation. It’s a high cost in a world where game developers’ 70% must cover all the cost of developing, operating, and supporting their games. And it’s disproportionate to the cost of the services these stores perform, such as payment processing, download bandwidth, and customer service. We’re intimately familiar with these costs from our experience operating Fortnite as a direct-to-customer service on PC and Mac.”

The decision by Epic Games is fairly logical. Avoiding platforms such as Steam or Google Play means that they as a company get a larger cut of game sales. The reason other games haven’t done this in the past is because, quite simply, they wouldn’t survive without these big platforms holders. Fortnite may be one of the only games that can generate enough word of mouth to avoid needing the publicity and visibility that Google Play provides.

The decision hasn’t made all gamers happy however. Issues of security have already arisen amongst many communities who are concerned that the downloading of external applications may lead to problematic outcomes. Android devices don’t allow downloading of external applications by default requiring you to ‘flip a switch’ to allow the process to take place. On older Android devices this is a straight toggle, meaning that once the switch is flipped the floodgates are open for all external downloads. Less tech savvy individuals may find themselves in unfortunate situations, although that is yet to be seen.