Epic Will Keep Fortnite Off Google’s Store To Make More Money

Epic Will Keep Fortnite Off Google’s Store To Make More Money

Epic Games has confirmed that when Fortnite Battle Royale releases on Android phones it won’t be sold through the Google Play store. In an email to The Verge, CEO Tim Sweeney said this was in part to avoid the 30 per cent cut Google takes on in-app purchases for games sold through its storefront.

“The 30 per cent store tax is a high cost in a world where game developers’ 70 per cent must cover all the cost of developing, operating, and supporting their games,” Sweeney told The Verge.

The CEO went on to say that he thinks this amount is disproportionate to the services Google provides on open platforms such as Android where the company that maintains the operating system is separate from the hardware manufacturer.

Sweeney said the other reason for distributing Fortnite on Android using its own installer program was to “maintain its direct relationship with consumers”. This is similar to PC, where players have to open Epic’s proprietary launcher to play the game.

The news confirms rumours that began circulating earlier in the week, but it remains to be seen how much of an encumbrance this direct distribution model will be for Android users.

Running software on an Android device that bypasses the Google Play store also means forgoing certain security and privacy protections, through Sweeney downplayed these concerns in his statements to The Verge, comparing how its installer will work to services like Blizzard’s Battle.net.

On smartphones, however, Blizzard distributes its card game Hearthstone through the Google Play and Apple stores just like any other app.

Fortnite is already available on the Apple store after launching in April. There’s still no set date for when the game will launch on Android. 


    • Guess how much Epic takes from things sold thru the Unreal Engine Store?

      If you guessed 30% you’d be right!

      • If you’re talking about the UE4 asset store, they recently lowered their cut from 30% to 12%. And they’re backpaying developers for all sales since the store launched, at the new rate.

  • The only way this will is if people bother to download Epic’s Launcher. In a world with a store front like Google Play Store, a Launcher is just not good enough.

    Also Epic trying to squeeze every penny despite already being highly profitable. If everyone else can do it, why can’t you?

  • Incoming wave of “Download Fortnite and get free v-bucks 100% legit link in the description!” malware-laden APKs to take advantage of ignorant kids.

    It’s fine if Epic don’t want to give 30% of their IAP revenue to Google, can’t really blame them for wanting to make money. I had to laugh at the rest of the nonsense he came up with for justifying this move though – this is solely about making as much money as possible, there’s no real benefit for end users at all from this. It’s probably just going to make the game more susceptible to trojan horse-style attacks, especially given a large number of mobile players are probably kids who will click on any random link promising free shit. Smartphones need to be inherently secure devices because they’re often the most important device people have these days – a popular app circumventing the checks and balances of the Google App Store, especially when it’s already absurdly profitable, seems like a good way to undermine this.

    • Those apk scams already exist, and will continue to exist whether the official app is on the play store or not. [And it’s not like the play store isn’t full of malware-laiden apps anyway].
      The weakest link in security is always the user, and a walled garden environment isn’t the solution to having people that are educated about how their devices actually work.

      I’m for them launching the app on their own, and I hope they pull it off well as I’d like to see more people follow their lead. Walled garden computing environments are horrible [and from a security perspective, only amplify a false sense of security in users].

      That said, everything I said above means absolutely nothing to Epic, and they absolutely are doing it purely for the money. The weird thing is, I’d also argue that they would probably lose more than 30% of their potential audience by not having it on the play store. Either way I’m interested to see how it all goes down.

      • The weakest link in security is always the user
        Exactly – and this doesn’t help. I don’t agree with a totally walled garden approach either, but this is a highly popular app that is going to be real easy to target for infected APK distribution. Something big like this could be on the Play Store. You’re never going to fix the security problem of the user when they can install whatever they like – and given that smartphones are more frequently becoming the device people use for most of their day to day computing (e.g. banking, emails, etc) security is a huge concern.

        Big name apps like this probably should be on the Play Store to discourage these kinds of attacks – at least users can be educated to get something only from the Play Store to minimise the risk of damage. There’s simply no way to educate people otherwise – because they’ll invariably click the first link they see that looks legit.

        • You’re never going to fix the security problem of the user when they can install whatever they like

          There’s simply no way to educate people otherwise – because they’ll invariably click the first link they see that looks legit.

          The position of sacrificing personal freedom for the sake of [pseudo]security for a minority gets applied to many aspects of society. There are few cases where I’m willing to tolerate it and computing environments is high on that list.

          I just don’t think the cross-section of users “falling for fake v-bucks apps” and “uses the device for banking” is necessarily that high.

          If I may ask, do you or have you done any PC gaming? Should all PC games be distributed through a centralised store from microsoft [or whatever OS you are using?]. Assuming your gaming on windows, it’s one of the most security-hole laden environments around yet the gaming ecosystem exists without calls for everyone to move to the microsoft store, because to most the value of an open ecosystem is worth more than any sort of security the move might bring.

          • If I may ask, do you or have you done any PC gaming? Should all PC games be distributed through a centralised store from microsoft [or whatever OS you are using?].
            I am a PC gamer and in case you’ve forgotten, Steam has practically taken over digital distribution – and it did so because people where screaming ‘No Steam, no sale!’ up until recently. As a PC gamer and a tech-literate user though I’m not blinded enough to look at things entirely from our perspective – yes, you and I wouldn’t fall for that, but we’re not 12 year old kids using dad’s phone to play Fortnite.

            The thing about an ‘open ecosystem’ is that the vast majority of end users don’t care – as evidenced by how many stay within the Play Store. The vast majority of end users couldn’t care less. All of the big advantages of an open platform are only really of interest to power users – the average smartphone user couldn’t care less. The majority of smartphone users are using their phones for simple daily tasks like doing their online banking – which is why smartphone vulnerability is such a big issue. These issues have been around for ages – the only way we combat them is to patch holes, because users don’t really change their behaviour. The weakest link in security is always the human.

          • I don’t disagree with you, I just don’t think that the play store actually provides any protection in this way.


            Here’s pages of scam apps which no doubt pop up in all sorts of advertising, which any kid using their parent’s phone can install. Regardless of whether the play store is in use or not, the user still needs to be aware of what is happening on their device. Arguably the play store makes it worse as it gives a false sense of security.

          • That’s a fault of the Play Store allowing complete trash though, not with the concept. I don’t think any of those on the Play Store are inherently malicious in that they’re hijacking anything, rather that they’re serving up ads to the gullible. Google could easily restrict these kinds of apps – Apple already did – without impacting on other freedoms (like Steam Link being permitted where Apple blocked it).

            If people honestly believe these apps can net them free V-Bucks, they’re likely to be even more susceptible to downloading an infected APK that also runs Fortnite. The thing is you can have it both ways – you can maintain an open platform to let people do what they like, but I think Epic pushing Fortnite this way is only beneficial to them, and to nobody else. It’s just a new avenue for a social engineering attack that somebody will certainly exploit.

  • While I understand Google takes a cut of in-app purchases made via Google Play Services, I was under the impression that app developers were free to use other payment systems for apps if they want (e.g. Amazon bills directly for purchases made through the Kindle app). This is one of the points of difference with Apple.

    So why wouldn’t Epic be able to distribute their free to play game via Google Play and then handle the in-app purchases themselves?

    • Yes, only difference is Apple’s environment is closed shut so they don’t have a choice, whereas every Android device has the ability to sideload APKs out of the box.

      • True. It’s funny they just eat it there then complain that it’s too much. I just can’t see a way for them to make it safe. Maybe they should roll out an ‘account manager’ app that gives you a link to a safe apk or something. Something official that points to it.

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